In this desert unit study, your child will learn how deserts are alive with activity. And if a desert has a unique combination of factors like rain and temperature, it can showcase the most splendid spectacle of color for wildflowers that would rival any fall display. A desert unit study is a fascinating topic to study in spring when everything is awakening.
About My Desert Unit Study
In this unit study, we learned about deserts in general, but we honed in on the Sonoran Desert so that we could learn some specific facts. Focusing on the Sonoran Desert, which is teeming with animal life and studying about the fascinating giant water tank, the saguaro cactus, the topics can keep children learning for several weeks or a month.
This desert unit study was created with the middle school kid in mind, but there are ideas to include younger siblings. Also, when I create unit studies, we use them for enrichment to add to our daily learning. This means I like easy lapbooks that don’t turn into a semester long research paper. Unless, I want it to.
This desert unit study can easily be adapted to suit your needs whether you want to cover it lightly or in more depth. Use these links to learn about the desert along with downloading the free lapbook, which can be downloaded at the bottom.
Media and Background Information
- YouTube Desert Flowers. Stunning photographs of desert flowers. Run time.5:46
- YouTube. The Sonoran Desert Ecosystem. Displays plants and animals of the northern Sonoran Desert. The ecology of the desert and indigenous peoples are explained. Run time. 8:47
- Blue Planet Biomes – Sonoran Desert. This website has helpful background information on the Sonoran Desert and about plants and animals.
Free World Geography Game – Deserts. Quick! Can you name all the deserts in the world? This fun and interactive free geography game will have you exploring where deserts are located.
Hands-on Desert Ideas
- Make a hygrometer.
- Exploring edible cactus.
- Discuss the importance of a compass in a desert and make an easy compass.
- Discuss the rocks of the desert and make edible metamorphic rocks.
- Discuss how winds affect the desert and do an extreme winds activity.
Desert Arts and Crafts Activities
- Draw a desert sunset.
- Desert sand art.
- Make an origami cactus.
- Make an origami owl with a how-to video.
- Make an easy cardboard cactus.
- DIY colorful paper mache cacti with toothpicks and glue. Downloadable pdf instructions included.
- Make a solar oven and bake cookies.
- Make a desert diorama.
- Make an easy edible desert diorama for younger kids.
- Download this free art magazine from the American Society of Botanical Artists. This sample copy, which has 17 pages has some fascinating tips and articles on color, wildflowers and pollination. Great tips for drawing too.
Language Arts About Deserts
- How to write about a desert.
- A Walk in the Desert. A read aloud for younger children.
- Wildflower poetry. A poetry lesson plan here for all ages. Also, at this wildflower teacher resource site there are numerous other wonderful lesson plan ideas like wildflower conservation, bees as pollinators, wildflower classification and wildflower parts to name a few.
Desert Coloring Pages
These free printable coloring pages make beautiful covers for lapbooks or notebooks. These are top-notch coloring pages with beautiful images that your middle school kid won’t find babyish.
- Gila Ben’s Arizona Coloring Book. Download (click on the image) the coloring book and look at the beautiful saguaro cactus, the wren in the cactus and the ridge-nosed rattlesnake pages.
- Roxie Munroe, Artist. Scroll down close to the bottom and download the page Sonoran Day to color animals of the Sonoran Desert. There are two other desert coloring pages too.
Learning how the desert can be a fragile habitat, which can be transformed into beauty inspired us to want to know more about it. And though we don’t live real close to a desert, this spring unit study has us hankering for another field trip.