The Important Role of Biomes

Travel the world from the comfort of your classroom with this unit on the Earth's biomes.

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In the ecological hierarchy, biomes come between ecosystems and the biosphere. They represent the major ecosystem types on Earth. A terrestrial biome is defined by its climate and an aquatic biome is defined by other abiotic factors. These nonliving parts of the ecosystem dictate the adaptations that plants need to survive. The plants and the abiotic factors dictate the adaptations that animals need.

I start my biome unit by teaching the difference in climates due to the tilt of the Earth on its axis and other factors, such as the movement of air masses. Next, we move on to climatograms. The simple brilliance of a climatogram allows you to quickly notice the differences in the temperature and precipitation between biomes. I give each lab group a set of temperature and precipitation data for a biome and they must make a large scale climatogram on a poster board. Students get hands-on experience with climatograms and we have posters to remind us for the remainder of the unit.

Once students understand the factors that determine climate, we look at the global locations of the biomes on Earth.  The geography of the biomes helps link the climate and biome type for students.  After a brief introduction on each biome, students pair up and pick a biome to research.  Depending on the size of your class, you can include both terrestrial and aquatic biomes, or just stick to the terrestrial ones for this unit. 

In my classroom, the major project of this unit, and of the grading period, is an ecotourism advertisement campaign. Students research their biome and create a PowerPoint presentation detailing the climate, plant and animal adaptations, and environmental threats for their chosen ecosystem type. They also work to create a brochure, billboard, or commercial advertising an ecotourism trip to their biome. I give students a rubric that uses the same grading requirements for each type of advertisement and allows them to choose which one they would like to complete. The brochure can be done by hand or using Microsoft Publisher. The billboard can be created on a large poster board. The commercial is a fun way to incorporate technology and is really no more difficult than the other options. Students can use Movie Maker or Photo Story to create their commercial. No matter what they choose, the advertisement must persuade me to visit their biome and tell me what to expect when I arrive. I assign points for the content and creativity of each advertisement.

Students work hard on this project and love to show their classmates their work. I encourage my students to pay attention to the presentations by having them take basic notes on each biome. This is essential to keeping the class engaged and it helps students prepare for their test on the biomes.  I also break up the presentations into a few days, so that we avoid watching presentations for extended periods of time. I might include a study guide, crossword puzzle, or other review to work on after the class has had their fill of presentation time for the day.  I find this unit to be one of the most engaging for myself and for my students. I hope that you will, too! You can also try these ideas to teach your students about the diverse biomes of our world.

Biomes:

Biomes   

In this lesson students learn about biomes, and locate them on a world map. They learn how to read a climatograph and identify corresponding biomes.

Building a Biome   

Students do experiments to see how plants grow in different types of biomes. They plant seeds from plants, such as lima beans, and have them grow in egg cartons. For each of the plants they create different biome conditions by varying the amount of light and water.

Elements of Biology: Biomes   

In this lesson students learn about biomes. They create maps which describe individual biomes. They use a color-coded system to identify the climate, vegetation, and animals that live in the biome. They then write about their biome and present to the class.

A Statistical Study of Three Biomes 

Students do research on three biomes. They then arrange the data and analyze it. Students work in cooperative groups, and engage in hands-on, outdoor activities.