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Discovery of the Earth’s Biomes Lesson Plan

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Lesson Plan #: AELP-ECL0209
Submitted by: Nissa Johnson-Snyder and Josh Altmiller
Email: happynyss@hotmail.com, joshaltmiller@hotmail.com
School/University/Affiliation: University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Endorsed by: Dr. Lisa Blank
             University of Montana, Missoula, MT
Date: December 10, 2002

Grade Level: 4, 5, 6


  • Science/Ecology

Duration: 1-2 class sessions

Description: Using inquiry science, students will work in cooperative groups to research and present information about six of Earth’s biomes. The biomes introduced are tundra, taiga, deciduous forest, grasslands, tropical rain forest, and desert. Through discussing the various biomes, students will discover which biome they live in.

Goals: National Science Education Standards (NSES) :
Life Science Content Standard C:
As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of

  • Structure and function in living systems
  • Reproduction and heredity
  • Regulation and behavior
  • Populations and ecosystems
  • Diversity and adaptations of organisms


  • Students will be able to name six biomes found on Earth (tundra, taiga, deciduous forest, grasslands, tropical rain forest, and desert).
  • Students will be able to list at least one plant, animal, location, and the climate of each biome.
  • Materials:

    • computers with Internet access
    • world map
    • students’ science textbooks and other books about biomes (from school library)
    • pencils
    • biome puzzles (teacher-created)
    • posterboard
    • glue
    • markers
    • What I Think
    • Fact Sheet
    • What I Know
    • Handouts in .pdf format; requires free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

      Click the icon to obtain the free Reader.


    Focus Phase:
    Students complete the worksheet entitled, What I Think. Students predict the animals, plants, and location of six biomes (desert, grassland, tundra, taiga, tropical rain forest, and deciduous forest).

    Challenge Phase:
    Divide students into six groups. Each group receives a biome puzzle along with an index card containing facts for the biome (the index cards need to be created by the teacher). The biome puzzle is an 8 ½ x 11 color photo of a biome cut into puzzle pieces. Have students put their puzzle together. Then the completed puzzle is glued to a piece of posterboard. Students should discuss the characteristics listed on the index card. 

    Concept Introduction Phase:
    Once the puzzles are glued together and students have thought about their biome habitat, the teacher reads a description of each biome out loud to the class. Students must determine which biome their group has. This will give students the official title of their biome so that they can research the climate, location, plants, and animals that inhabit their biome (using books or Internet sites below). After conducting their research, students will write their information on the posterboard (under their glued puzzle). Students should also fill in the section of the Fact Sheet (see Materials ) that pertains to their biome.

    Finally, when all the groups have finished, a student from each group will present their group’s biome poster to the class. Meanwhile, the other students will fill in the Fact Sheet with the presented information. Afterward, tape the finished posters on the board and have the students take their seats for the concept application phase.

    Concept Application Phase:
    Instruct students to fill out the worksheet entitled, What I Know to review the biomes discussed. Assessment: Collect students’ What I Think and What I Know handouts. Give points to how well students worked together as a group and performance on the What I Know worksheet:

    Participation: 5 pts. (Includes each student filling in the Fact Sheet.) Note: The Fact Sheet could be given as homework if time does not allow for students to finish it within the lesson period.
    Response: What I Know – 5 pts. for accuracy and 1 pt. for each response (each response is worth ¼ pt on question #5) for a total of 10 pts.

    Useful Internet Resources:
    * Biome Basics

    * What is a Biome?