Students will learn about surface terrain and how plants and animals are affected by the temperatures and precipitation that elevation and terrain creates. Then the students will predict what type of environment plants and animals live in.
- Ask Jeeves
Click on kids questions then ask about wetlands, forests, or deserts.
- Hands-On Science Resource Book, Jordan School District: Sandy, UT: 1994
- Utah's Wildlife Habitats, Volume 2, number 1 - Utah Natural Resources S.L.C,
UT (801) 538-4700
- Western Forests, by Stephen Whitney - National Audubon Society Nature Guides
Background for Teachers
This activity includes two parts. One discusses surface terrain, and how plants
and animals are affected by the temperatures and precipitation that elevation and terrain
creates. Second is allowing the students to predict what type of environment plants and
animals live in.
Students can use their pre-knowledge to help them with this or from recent
reading material. Other activities in this standard will require students to research the
environments to make the correct answers.
The last part of this activity requires the students to color a map of Utah. Each
environment has its own color. Part of the map will not relate to one environment but
two. The Mountain Forest/Desert Transition part is a combination of mountains and
deserts mixed together. Some of the plants and animals that grow in the lower elevations
of the mountain forest area are considered desert plants and animals. Pinyon pines and
juniper trees are desert plants, but they are trees and when they cover 10% of the land it is
considered a forest.
Intended Learning Outcomes
1. Use science process and thinking skills
2. Manifest Scientific attitudes and interests
3. Understand science concepts and principles
4. Communicate effectively using science language and reasoning
Pre-Assessment/Invitation to Learn
Allow students to feel a 3-D map of Utah with their fingers. Have them describe
where they felt the map raise and why they think it raised in places and why it was flat
in others. If a 3-D map is not available, a regular map of Utah can be used with teacher
- Explain to students that in Utah, elevation directly influences the temperature
and amount of rain an area receives. The higher the elevation the cooler the
temperatures and more rain an area will receive. The lower the elevation
the less rain and warmer the temperature will be. Plants like certain
temperatures and amounts of precipitation. They will only grow if the
environment is just right for them. Animals need the right plants,
temperature, moisture so they can live in their environments as well.
- Ask the students, based on what you discussed, which plants and
animals they think live in Utahs habitats; forests, deserts, and wetlands.
- Divide the class in three groups. Then assign each group an
environment to predict plants and animals that live there.
- Assign a scribe or writer for each group and have the scribe write
down the plants and animals the group predicted on the large chart paper.
- As a class discuss the charts.
- As a class decide...
- What habitat is most likely to be lowest in elevation: deserts
- What will most likely be the highest in elevation: deserts
- What environment can be at any elevation? Why?
- Why can a wetland be at any elevation?
- Pass students a copy of the Utah Environment map. Place your copy
on a student cam or use an overhead projector. Demonstrate the beginning of
the process: green for forest areas, yellow for mountain forest/desert transition,
brown for deserts, blue for wetlands. Allow the students to complete their
own maps. Remind them that there are many wetland areas we cannot color
because the areas are too small to show up on the map. A wetland is any area
that has water or is wet. Discuss the colors on the map and have the students
explain where they think the mountains and lowlands are, based on the
environments in each area.
- Journal entry: Describe a wetland, forest, and desert. How does
elevation effect each area?
- Discuss their journal entries and how this relates to the water cycle and
the amount of moisture each elevation receives. Also discuss elevation
changes and the impact it has on the temperature. Tell students that
because of these terrains, Utah is divided into three areas: wetlands,
forests, and deserts.
Fine Arts/Visual Arts-
- Have students color a class map of Utah to hang on the wall. This will be used
for later reference and discussion. (Standard III, Objective 2)
Homework & Family Connections
- Send home the names of the three environments. Have the family discuss
the conditions of each environment. If they have been to all three, have them
discuss what they recall about each environment. Have the student write down
what was talked about and bring it back to school for further work.
- Review with the students the general elevations of forests and deserts.
- Review with the students why wetlands are found in all environments.