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Archive for January, 2014

Desert plants

There are some interesting plants that live in the desert. They have some adaptations to help them survive. 

Barrel cactus

Why does this plant have spikes instead of leaves?  Is this cactus part of a food web?

Brittle bush

hedgehog cactus

Joshua tree

prickly pear cactus

The prickly pear can be eaten.  Would your students want to eat one?  How are they harvested?

Saguaro Cactus

Why does the this cactus grow so slowly?

Here is an animal that lives inside the cactus.  The pygmy owl

What advantage does this owl have when it makes a nest in a cactus?

How does this animal contribute to the food chain?

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Desert Spiders and other creepy critters

     I know some of my boys will love learning spiders. The creepier the better.  Here are some pictures of desert spiders

Desert Tarantula

Photo © by Bob Kolbert

wolf spider

a wolf spider, Arctosa, from the Sonoran Desert photo © by Mike Plagens

crab spider

Photo © by Mike Plagens

jumping spider

Phidippus californicus photo © by Laurie Nessel

 

Let’s not forget the scorpions

Photo © by Marc Borom

Photo © by Mike Plagens

Photo © by Marcus Watson

This site has the pictures and more information about the various critters shown above. http://www.arizonensis.org/sonoran/fieldguide/arthropoda/arachnida.html

Some questions that you could ask students are;

-how are the spiders and scorpions the same/different?

-What adaptations do they have in order to live in a desert environment?

-Are all of these harmful to humans?

-What animals prey on these spiders.  What do these spiders prey on?

-If one of these spiders or scorpions were in danger of becoming extinct is it worth saving?  Why or why not?

 

 

 

 

Desert animals

There are lots of different desert animals to learn about.  I am not sure where to start.  Here is a website that has information about desert animals.

http://www.desertanimals.net/

http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/meerkat/

http://kids.sandiegozoo.org/animals/mammals/meerkat

Meercats are fun to watch.  There is even a show about them.

This site has a cute meercat craft.  http://www.daniellesplace.com/html/meerkat-crafts-for%20kids.html

 

Other activities

-Measure the temperature above ground.  Then dig a hole in the ground and take a temperature below ground. (not an activity to be done in the dead of winter)  Ask students what the differences were between the temperatures.  What other purpose is there for digging a hole to live in?  Why not live in a tree?

-What adaptations do the Meercats have to help them live in a harsh environment?  Some examples are frequent litters of pups, the can eat scorpions because they are immune to their venom, live in large family groups, use communication to alert danger.

Spotted Hyenas

-How are hyenas like dogs?  How are they different?

-What relationship do hyenas have with lions?

-Are hyenas predators or scavengers?

Texas horned lizard

-What class is this animal in?  Mammal, reptile or amphibian?

-Why does this animal have horns on it?

Lappet faced vulture

-Is this animal a predator or scavenger?

-Why is the birds beak shaped like it is?

-Where in the desert does this bird live?

Fennec Fox

-How has this fox adapted to live in a hot environment? Why does it have such big ears?

Experiment that demonstrates how ears keep animal cool.

http://www.education.com/science-fair/article/hot-desert-animals/?page=2

Dromedary Camel

-make a list of what students know about camels.  Read about camels on various sites and see what is true and what is false. (for example the hump is not made of water)

Handprint Camel Craft Project – Have the kids learn about desert animals, make the animal with finger paint, and use the animal as the middle of a web.  Write interesting facts they've learned about their animal around it.

Caracal

-How does this animal resemble other animals the students are familiar with?

-Is this animal closer to the size of a mountain lion or a house cat?  Why do you think it is this size?

-Have students make a desert scene showing where animals live in the desert.  Have them sh0w some animals that make burrows underground, in a cactus and under rocks.  What colors do you see in a desert?  Why are desert animals this color?

-On a world map mark where some of these animals are found.

http://teachingmama.org/desert-animal-printables/

I like the vocabulary cards on this site

http://owensfamily-gwyn.blogspot.com/2013/03/desert-animals-printable.html

Sort desert animals by class, location, color, size, diet…..

Desert Animal tube

Desert Diorama using Toob "Desert" animals

 

Another good site with information about desert animals.

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/gobi-desert-animals.html