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Ecology: Life in Cold Climates - A Look at the Tundra

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Objectives:

  • The students will be able to describe the characteristics of the tundra biome.

  • The students will be able to name some plants and animals that live in the tundra biome.

  • The students will be able to explain how plants and animals survive in the tundra biome.

  • The students will be able to locate the tundra regions on a map.

Questions that encompasses the objective:

  • Think about snow. Where (location) in the world do you think it snows all year round?

  • What kinds of plants and animals can survive in cold weather year round?

Prepare the Learner: Activating Prior Knowledge. 

How will students prior knowledge be activated?

Warm up by asking students:

  • What type of weather would you experience if you were to go to the North or South Pole?

Common Core State Standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.1 B

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.2.4

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.2.2

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.2 B

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.1

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.4

Materials and Free Resources to Download for this Lesson: 

  • Video: “Tundra—Video Learning—WizScience.com” by Wiz Science

  • “The Tundra Biome” worksheet packet

    • “Life in the Tundra” worksheet

    • “Who Lives in the Tundra?” worksheet

    • “Tundra Regions of the World” worksheet

      • Blue marker/crayon/colored pencil

  • “Welcome to the Tundra!” activity materials:

    • Poster board

    • Computers or Encyclopedias/Books/Information Sheets

    • **Students need to have access to information sources. If computers are available for use, allow the students to look up information on the computer. If not, allow the students to use encyclopedias or other books. Prior to the start of the lesson, the teacher could have the students choose an arctic region. The teacher could then provide information sheets about the student’s chosen region**

    • Crayons/Markers/Colored Pencils

    • Pictures of the arctic/ arctic regions

    • Scissors

    • Glue

  • "What Do You Think?" Assessment

Input:
What is the most important content in this lesson?
To reach this lesson’s objective, students need to understand:

  • The characteristics of the tundra biome.

  • The plants and animals that live in the tundra biome.

  • How plants and animals survive in the tundra biome.

  • The location of tundra regions.

How will the learning of this content be facilitated?

  • The teacher will begin the class by showing the students the video ““Tundra—Video Learning—WizScience.com” (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftA7vVzKe_M). The video is about two and a half minutes long and gives an overview of the tundra biome. After the video, the teacher should begin a discussion about what the students observed/ the content of the video. The teacher should review the “Our Earth’s Biomes” worksheet before introducing the tundra biome to the students. 

 

  • Next, the teacher should hand out the “The Tundra Biome” worksheet packet. If it is possible, project each worksheet of “The Tundra Biome” worksheet packet onto the board using a projector or put into a PowerPoint document and project. As the teacher explains each worksheet, the students will fill in the blank spaces. The teacher should start with the “Life in the Tundra” worksheet.

**The student worksheet does not contain all of this information. Use this as a guide to help explain the tundra biome more in depth to the students**

  • The tundra biome is the Earth’s coldest biome.

  • The tundra biome has very little vegetation.

  • The average temperature of the tundra biome is -15°F. However, during the summer, temperatures can rise to 50°F.

  • About 1/5 of the Earth’s surface is covered with tundra.

  • The tundra biome can be found in the Arctic Circle (North Pole)/ Northern Hemisphere.

  • The tundra biome is very dry and experiences less than 10 inches of rain a year.

  • Summers are very short in the tundra biome—they last only 6-10 weeks. Winters are very long in the tundra biome

  • Summer days and winter nights can last for 24 hours, due to the close location to the North Pole.

  • In the winter, the sun may not rise for weeks.

  • When the soil begins to thaw, it gets very soggy and begins to sink into the ground; this creates permafrost. Permafrost lies 6 inches below the ground and stays frozen for most of the year. The top layer of permafrost can thaw, but the bottom layer stays frozen.

  • The tundra biome can be divided into two regions: alpine tundra and arctic tundra.

    • Alpine: located high in the mountains, above the tree line.

    • Arctic: located in the far north of the northern hemisphere. (Northern North America, Northern Europe, and Northern Asia) 

  • The frigid temperatures make it difficult for people to live permanently in the tundra region.

    • There are about 4 million people living in all of the Arctic Regions combined.

    • Many of these people are indigenous or native to the area.

    • During the winter, they live in igloos. However, once the summer comes, igloos melt. Summer houses/ tents are made of animal skin.

  • The next worksheet the teacher should review is “Who Lives in the Tundra?”.

**The student worksheet does not contain all of this information. Use this as a guide to help explain the tundra biome more in depth to the students**​

  • The tundra biome has very little vegetation.

  • Lichens, mosses, and small shrubs can grow in the tundra biome.

  • The growing season only lasts 60 days. 

  • Plants are usually short and grouped together; they get energy from the sun through photosynthesis.

  • Many animals call the tundra biome home. They include, polar bears, elks, caribous, seals, snow owls, and snow oxen.

  • These animals know how to adapt to the environment to protect themselves from predators and from the frigid weather. Many have small limbs, ears, and noses and bodies that are thick with fur/fat. These adaptations help them to survive the frigid weather.

  • Polar bears eat fatty food to give them energy. They also eat walrus, beavers, eggs, and berries.

  • Polar bears have a scent that can reach 20 miles and a stomach that can hold up to 150 pounds of food.

  • Many animals of the tundra breed and raise young in the summer, when the weather is a bit warmer.

  • Many of the animals of the tundra are migratory—meaning that the populations of animals constantly change. Animals that permanently live in the tundra must change their diet according to the seasons.

  • There are about 1,700 different types of plants and 400 different types of flowers that grow in the tundra biome.

  • The last worksheet that should be reviewed is the “Tundra Regions of the World” worksheet. The students will learn where tundra regions are located. The teacher should have the students outline the regions with a blue marker/crayon/colored pencil.

**Refer to the teacher copy of the worksheet**

  • After the worksheet is completed, the students will participate in an activity called “Welcome to the Tundra!” The students will work in pairs. Each pair will choose an arctic region and create a poster board telling their classmates why their region is a good place to vacation. The students will talk about the temperature, seasons, animals and plants native to the region, and how the tourists should prepare for their trip (clothing, etc.) (refer to the “Materials” section about how the information can be obtained) Allow the students to work for about 20  minutes. Reconvene and discuss when the students are finished.

**This can be an assignment/project that is graded or presented to the class**

  • The final assessment will be for the students to answer the question:

Think about what you learned in class today. What are some characteristics of the tundra biome? Where are tundra biomes located? What is permafrost? How long is the growing season in the tundra biome? Name two animals you can find in the tundra biome and explain how they have adapted to live in the tundra’s extremely cold climate.

Information Sources:

http://kids.nceas.ucsb.edu/biomes/tundra.html

http://www.ducksters.com/science/ecosystems/tundra_biome.php

http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/glossary/gloss5/biome/tundra.html

http://www.kidsgeo.com/geography-for-kids/0166-tundra.php

Time/Application
3-5 minutes
Guided Introduction

Review the class/ agenda with the students:

10 minutes

Introductory Activity:

15 Minutes

The Tundra Biome Worksheet Packet

  • Give each student a “The Tundra Biome” worksheet packet.

  • Project each worksheet of the packet onto the board either through a projector or PowerPoint presentation.

  • Students will fill in the blanks on their worksheets as the teacher explains.

  • Begin with the “Life in the Tundra” worksheet, followed by the “Who Lives in the Tundra?” worksheet, and finish with “Tundra Regions of the World” worksheet.

20 Minutes

Activity: “Welcome to the Tundra!”

  • Have the students break into pairs.

  • Give each pair a poster board, scissors, glue, and crayons/markers/colored pencils.

  • Have the students use the information about their region to create a poster telling their classmates why their region is a good place to vacation.

  • The students will talk about the temperature, seasons, animals and plants native to the region, and how the tourists should prepare for their trip (clothing, etc.)

  • At the end of 20 minutes, have the students return to their desks and discuss the activity.

Closure/Assessment
15 minutes

  • As an independent assessment, the students will answer the question:  

Think about what you learned in class today. What are some characteristics of the tundra biome? Where are tundra biomes located? What is permafrost? How long is the growing season in the tundra biome? Name two animals you can find in the tundra biome and explain how they have adapted to live in the tundra’s extremely cold climate.

  • Appropriate answers will vary.

  • If there is additional time, discuss questions from the classifying objects activity.


Individualized Instruction/Scaffolding

English Language Learners will be supported in this lesson through data-based heterogeneous grouping, verbal and written repetition of new vocabulary words, and multiple representation of vocabulary words through printed images and video.

Ecosystems, Biomes, and Habitats PowerPoint and Activities
Classifying Animals PowerPoint & Activities