Desert introduces students to the characteristics and properties of the desert landscape. Students will learn facts about different deserts around the world. They will discover what types of animals and plants inhabit such terrain. They will also learn that not all deserts are hot and full of sand dunes.

In the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page, you will find a couple suggestions that you can add to your lesson. One option is to bring live plants like succulents and cacti for students to plant in their shadow boxes. The other option is to have students draw animals or plants for the shadow box instead of using plastic figures.

What our Desert lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: Desert teaches students about the dry and usually hot terrain of the desert landscape. Students will be able to identify some of its traits and discuss the wildlife that live in these areas. By the end of the lesson, students should be able to explain what a desert is like and what to expect from one.

There are three pages of content in this lesson. Students will first learn some of the characteristics of these lands. They will discover that not all deserts are hot and stretch for miles with nothing but sand. They will learn that they often present lots of plants and shrubbery. And some are even very cold. All deserts, however, are dry and receive fewer than 10 inches of rain a year.

The lesson provides a list of the world’s largest deserts and shows pictures of the many different kinds of terrain they might see. It also describes a few of the animals that call these dry lands home, such as camels and thorny devils.


The activity may require some prep work. You can have students work alone or with a partner. You could also have them work in groups if you choose. For the activity, students will create shadow boxes that display a desert landscape. They will use sand, rocks, and other items such as plastic animal or plant figures. They can also draw pictures to use. The worksheet lists two questions for students to answer after they finish their boxes. Then they will use the blank space at the bottom to write a short story about their box.


For the practice worksheet, students will research two animals and a plant that live in the desert. They will draw or glue a picture in the blank box next to the names. Then they will write one way that the animal or plant adapted to life in the driest biome of the world.


The homework assignment requires students to fill out a table listing the world’s ten largest deserts. Students will add the square-mile area for each one. They will also write three fun general facts about deserts at the bottom of the page.

Additional information


3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade



State Educational Standards

NGSS.3-ESS2-2, NGSS.5-LS2-1, & NGSS.3-LS4-3

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.