Desert Water Keepers
Science, Art, and Language Arts
Grade Level: Third - April
Teacher of Lesson: Stacey Perri
Approximate Time: Thirty Minutes, Several Days
- Students will identify ways that cactus plants survive in the desert.
- Students will discuss and make a chart listing adaptations of cacti in two categories: Water Acquisition and Water Conservation.
- The students will apply the knowledge that they have acquired about plant adaptations by creating their own plant that would survive in a desert climate.
- The students will demonstrate a knowledge of a desert environment by creating a living thing with adaptations suitable for this hot environment.
- Various art materials, such as paper mache (newspaper, flour, and water), dough recipe, packing materials, paper, paint, and markers.
- Clay, a small amount for the base of the plant (Or cups with sand in them)
- Student Journals
- Cactus in the Desert by Phyllis Busch
- Ask the students if they can name some ways in which a plant is adapted to survive in the desert. Record these on the board.
- Before reading the book, ask the students to listen for ways that cactus plants survive in the desert. Then, read Cactus in the Desert by Phyllis Busch.
- Make a chart labeled Water Acquisition and Water Conservation. Discuss the adaptations of the cacti in the book, categorizing each adaptation. (acquisition: a large shallow root system, ability to soak up large quantities of water quickly, and a pleated shape that expands and holds water) (conservation: a waxy external covering to prevent water loss, slow growth, a shape that exposes a small amount of the surface to the air, and thorns to keep animals from nibbling stem).
- Inform students that they will be inventing their own plant that they believe would survive in the desert. The criteria are:
- a plant that can store water
- a plant that can compete with other plants for water
- a plant that can withstand the hot desert sun
- any other adaptations suitable for these conditions
- The students will sketch the plant that they are going to create in their journals, identifying how they are going to meet the criteria, as well as recording the process of building their plant.
- After reviewing the notes that they took in their journals, the students will collect materials and construct their plants.
- The students will present the plants that they have created to the class over a number of days. The class will be allowed to challenge any invention that they do not believe meet the criteria.
- The students will name their completed plants.
Reteaching Strategies and Follow-Up:
- Would the student's plant survive in the desert?
- What adaptations did they use for their plants? Did they miss any important concepts concerning desert survival, such as water retention?
- If time does not permit presentation of the plants, the plants will simply be on display along the back counter of the classroom underneath the bulletin board, "What We Know About the Desert".
- If a student is unsure of what desert adaptations they can use, or unsure of what plant to make, provide many resource materials on the cactus and desert environment.
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