For science this school year, we have been learning about different biomes of the countries we are studying in our Around the World units. For every continent we are learning about one biome, spread out over the course of 6 weeks. We first began with the Mountain (Alpine) biome as we studied countries throughout Asia. Check out all the fun things we did HERE.

We recently finished our studies in Africa and learned all about the desert, specifically the Sahara Desert at the same time. You can see our studies on Egypt HERE. I highly recommend doing some of the activities we did for Egypt for a desert biome study as well, such as the Pryamids of Giza, and camel activities. These were a lot of fun and were great to add to our studies of the desert.

Books:

We read many great books about the Desert. I definitely recommend Deserts by Gail Gibbons. We read this book as a whole to start our desert unit and then referred back to it often throughout our studies. Cactus Hotel by Brenda Z. Guiberson, Dig Wait Listen by April Pulley Savre, and A Desert Scrapbook by Viringia Wright-Frierson are really good books (our favorites) about the wildlife in the desert.

Additional books you can read that are not pictured: Desert Night Desert Day by Anthony Fredricks, Cactus Cafe by Kathleen Zoehfeld, and Desert Giant by Barbara Bash.

Hands-On Experiments:

I love bringing learning to life with fun hands-on experiments and we did some fun ones with this biome.

First, we did a simple experiment to study how sand dunes were formed. Flour in a baking dish and blow it with a straw. This showed the different grooves and patterns that are formed in the sand by the wind. Then we placed a small pom pom to represent a small shrub bush and blew the flour some more. The sand would pile up, creating a dune, because the shrub bush is in the way. (*Just a heads up this can get messy and flour will fly everywhere! Haha)

Next, we learned all about cacti and how they store water. I cut a sponge in the shape of a cactus for each of the kids. They observed and recorded the sponge in their notebook by simply drawing a picture and writing how it felt. We then added it to a small glass of water and watched as the sponge started to soak up the water. This showed them how the cactus and its long roots soak up as much rainwater as possible to store it for the many months ahead without rain. We left it for a few hours and then they recorded the sponge again in their notebooks. The sponge was almost completely wet to the top!

We didn’t get to this experiment, but THIS is a great one all about creating and learning about a desert oasis.

Don’t forget about fun snacks too! These cactus pretzel rods are super simple to make and so cute! Find the instructions HERE!

Art:

Since we were learning about cacti, I wanted to try this black glue art I found from this post. We used a free cactus template I found on Google images and traced it onto watercolor paper. We mixed a bottle of white glue (about 75% full) with some black acrylic paint. Shake it up to mix or stir with a long skewer. I traced their pencil drawings with the black glue and let it dry. Then they used watercolor paint to paint their cactus. We used small crumbled up pieces of red crate paper (or you can use tissue paper) for the blossoms. The black glue gives the art a glass window type effect. I love how these turned out!

Notebooking:

In our notebooks, I had my kids draw a picture and write the definition of a desert from the book Geography From A-Z.

We looked up and read about different types of cactus in DK Trees Leaves Flowers and Seeds. I told my kids they could pick any three cacti to draw and label in their notebook. We also did THIS simple color by number just for fun.

We grabbed a small cactus from the grocery store to explore and observe throughout our studies. You can find a small one from a local nursery or Home Depot too. I really wanted to cut it open and observe the inside, but my kids insisted we keep it and take care of it. 😊

Here is another fun coloring page we did together while listening to an audio book over one weekend. 😊 FREE Coloring Page.

We also completed the desert section on our biome accordion book. We are adding to this all throughout the year as we finish each biome. They locate and label where main deserts are on the world map and then fill in the boxes for characteristics of each biome.

Here is a FREE Desert Learning Pack that would be fun to add into your other subjects as you learn about the desert.

We didn’t get the chance to do THIS lizard activity, but it would be an easy craft/activity to add.

HERE is a great craft project too to create your own mini cactus garden out of rocks!

Diorama:

Our final project for each biome is creating a diorama. We are re-using the same box for each unit and my kids make one diorama together. (It explains how I made the box in our Mountain Biome blog post.) My goal for these dioramas is to give my kids all the supplies, a few ideas to start, and then let them do it all themselves. I love to see what they create from what they learned throughout our unit together.

For our desert diorama, my son painted a large sunset on card stock paper. We cut out some sand dunes on cardboard and they glued sand to it from our backyard. They added kinetic sand to the bottom, added desert Toob animals, and made different types of cacti from green popsicle sticks and pom poms.

After they complete their diorama, they always present it that evening to the whole family, as well as all the fun things they learned or did throughout the whole unit.


We loved learning all about the desert throughout our studies in Africa. After our Christmas break we will be studying Antartica and doing a short study on polar biomes. Future blog post on all of those to come!

I hope this post finds you well and gives you some fun ideas! Enjoy the rest of your week!

4 Replies to “Desert Biome Unit Study”

  1. I absolutely love your in depth blog posts and updates!! I’m not on Instagram so it’s super nice to be able to check your posts here and stay inspired! Thank you!

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