Interrelatedness of Desert Plants and Animals

Teacher of Lesson: Teresa Moore
Grade Level: 2/3




  1. Tape the large plant/animal cards in a circle on the chalkboard and label it "Sonoran Desert Life". Hand each child a half sheet of paper with questions to go with their card. (Each child will have a different information card.) Ask the children to first read through their card. If they need help with some words, ask for help at their table. Then, try to answer the three questions on your sheet. I will come around for more help.
  2. After everyone is finished, call an animal or plant up to the board to point to the organism's large card and to read their information card. "As (s)he reads the card, listen for your plant or animal's name. As your name is read from the card, raise your hand." When the student finishes reading, call up the students with raised hands to draw a line on the board connecting their plant/animal to the reader's plant/animal.
  3. When everyone is seated, call the next person to read. Follow the same procedure for all. (As we go further, have the people with raised hands look to see if a line is already drawn between the animals, before going to the board.)
  4. When all have read, ask them what they think the picture looks like. (bonus, if they guess web... but my point is not to go deeply into the web of life-- a little above their level) Is there anything you would like to comment on regarding the board, before I change it a little? Listen and discuss any comments they may have. (We often get surprisingly insightful comments from open student comments.)
  5. Take away the Saguaro Cactus. "If I take away the Prickly Pear Cactus (start erasing the line to the Kangaroo Rat), how might this affect the Kangaroo Rat? What else might it affect? How? (erase that line) What are others that would be affected? (erase all lines that led to the Prickly Pear) Now, if the Kangaroo Rat relied heavily on the Prickly Pear for survival, what might happen to the population of Kangaroo Rats? What items are related to the Kangaroo Rat? How would these be affected? So, if we were to destroy all the Prickly Pear in the Sonoran Desert, what would happen to the other life in the habitat?"
  6. "Let's pretend each of you represent the whole desert plant or animal population of the card you are holding. Everyone stand behind your chair. Let's start with the Desert Grasses. Desert Grasses, turn in your card to me... you no longer exist in the desert. Have a seat at your desk. Everyone who is related to the desert grasses, turn in your card as well, because of the lack of grasses to feed on, your population became extinct." (Read off the newly collected cards, slowly.) "If you are related to any of these plants or animals, turn in your cards as well and have a seat."
  7. When no one is remaining standing, say, "Now, I don't want an answer from any one. Think quietly about this for a minute: How important is it to protect species in danger of being wiped out (endangered species)? Just think." After a minute, ask them to turn over their question page and write down the most important thing they learned in this lesson. Turn in the sheet to me, then work on unfinished work.


  1. Collect the question sheets and check for accurate completion.
  2. Did all the children take part in drawing the web lines? Look at the board to see if the lines between plants and animals form a web pattern on the board.
  3. Check the comments written on the back of the question sheet. Did they write about the importance of individual animals on the survival of others or write about all plants and animals being connected in some way?

Extensions/ Reteaching Strategies:

Give the students photocopied pages of all the animals. Cut them apart and glue on a large piece of paper. Draw a desert scene in the background. Draw lines connecting all the organisms together according to a list of information about the plants and animals (also photocopied).
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