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Lesson Plan

Biomes

Summary: 
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 (2016 curriculum): 
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Food Webs, Ecosystems, Biomes (3, 4)
Procedure: 

Display a world map of major biomes. Try these links for simplified biome maps with logical colour coding: https://sites.google.com/site/5majorbiomesoftheworld1/home and https://askabiologist.asu.edu/explore/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.
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.

We’ll start with an activity to show one way that the sun affects 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.

While 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 and wood bugs from our temperate forest biome.
Students can use magnifiers to look at the animals more closely (at their colour, shape, how they move, find the wood bugs' eyes).

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.

Eating adaptations activity
You looked at a barnacle, that sweeps food out of the water. It works like this sieve separating the popcorn pieces from water (demonstrate). Other animals that live in water biomes, even some large whales, like the humpback whale, sieve out their food with baleen.
The 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. Which “foods” can you pick up with each tool? Also check out the animal pictures - which eat by sieving, grabbing, stabbing or sucking?
Discussion: Sieving is only possible in water biomes. Which animals eat in this way? On land and also in water, animals grab, suck and stab. Which biomes do each of the pictured animals live in?

Grades taught: 
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Teaching Site: 
Gordon Elementary