Lesson plan


Activities relating to regional weather and animal adaptations.
Find out how the sun affects the temperature of water and land biomes differently. Look at animals from different biomes. Model how animals eat in different biomes.
Science content
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Food Webs, Ecosystems, Biomes (3, 4)

Display a world map of major biomes. Try these links for simplified biome maps with logical colour coding: https://askabiologist.asu.edu/sites/default/files/resources/articles/bi… (from this article - https://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/biomes) or https://cdn.britannica.com/38/102938-050-6B5388D9/distribution-biomes.j… for terrestrial (Earth, not water) biomes.
Our planet has distinct regions that have their own weather, amount of sunlight, and temperatures. Because they are different, the living things that can survive there are different. "Climate is what you expect Weather is what you get"
Oceans and rivers are two of the biomes - in blue. Animals that live there are adapted to live and eat in the water.
The other biomes are all land. Some are cold (nearer the poles) like the tundra and taiga (we call it boreal forest) of Northern Canada. Some are hot (near the equator) like the deserts. Forests are tropical at the equator or temperate (cooler and more seasonal, like ours). Also grassland.
Animals, plants and other living things are adapted to live in each of these places.
List of biomes: Freshwater, Marine water, Ice, Tundra, Boreal forest (Taiga), Temperate forest, Tropical forest, Grassland, Desert.

More info placing biomes in the context of ecosystems and habitats:

Choose two or three of the activities for a lesson.

Show that the equator gets more direct sun than the poles: sun's angle on earth activity.

Show that the sun heats water and land biomes differently:
Show students set up of heating land and water and explain that they will be reading the temperature of the sand and water over time.
Before starting, practice reading thermometers.
Teacher adds starting temperatures of sand and water to a graph. Then turn on the "sun" (the lights) and start a timer.

Show the ocean currents that flow around the Earth, moving warm water and moderating the climate of biomes: https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/10841 or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEe1bVjORN4 (NASA Perpetual Ocean video)

Other activities can be run during the heating activity while student groups are not graphing - students can look at two animals that are related to each other (both crustaceans), but are found in different biomes. barnacles from the marine biome (consumers and sometimes decomposers), and wood bugs from our temperate forest biome (decomposers and consumers).
Students can use magnifiers to look at the animals more closely (at their colour, shape, how they move, find the wood bugs' eyes).
Discussion together summarizing the features that help them survive in their biome.

Return to the sand and water heating graph.
The same sun shines on land and water, but they heat up very differently. Water temperatures do not change much, whereas land temperatures, especially desert sand, changes fast and so can get very hot and also very cold.
Living things must be adapted for these greater temperature variations on land.
Can you name some animals that live in a desert biome? They are able to hold their water, and carefully collect the little water there is (cacti and lizard). They might hide underground from the heat except in the morning or evening. Big ears to lose heat.

Drip tips, waxy coatings and flexible stems on plants as adaptations to our temperate rainforest biome to our rainy and snowy winters.

Eating adaptations activity
A barnacle sweeps food out of the water. It works like a sieve. Other animals that live in water biomes, even some large whales, sieve out their food with baleen.
Wood bugs, which live in shady forest biomes, have tiny jaws for chewing up plants and rotting vegetation. They work like this clothes peg (demonstrate).
You’ll try these two tools, as well as two others, a skewer and a pipette. The tools model how different animals eat by sieving, grabbing, stabbing and sucking.
Discussion: Sieving is only possible in water biomes. On land and also in water, animals grab, suck and stab.


One activity format:
Biome maps and discussion on biomes-ecosystems-habitats. Eating adaptations activity.View and discuss wood bugs and barnacles.

Activity format for a long lesson:
Biome maps. Heating sand and water, with wood bug and/or barnacle observation and drawings when not taking thermometer readings. End with eating adaptations activity.

Grades taught
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5