Kindergarten-Sonoran Desert Sensory Habitat

GRADE LEVEL: Kindergarten


LESSON PLAN TITLE: Sonoran Desert Sensory Habitat

CONCEPT/TOPIC TO TEACH: Science and Technology

STANDARDS ADDRESSED: Science and Technology
  • Science Strand One: Inquiry Process
    • Concept Four: Communication
      • PO 1: Communicate observations with pictographs, pictures, models, and/or words.
  • Science Strand Four: Life Science
    • Concept Three: Organisms and Environments
      • PO 1: Identify some plants and animals that exist in the local environment.
  • Technology Strand One: Creativity and Innovation
    • Concept Four: Original Works
      • PO 1: Use digital creativity tools to develop ideas and create a project.
  • Technology Strand Two: Communication and Collaboration
    • Concept Two: Digital Solutions
      • PO 1: Participate in a classroom learning project using digital collaborative resources.

Display general understanding of the Sonoran Desert and the crawlers, wildlife, and vegetation that call the Sonoran Desert home. Understand how each of these components comes together to make up the Sonoran Desert.  


Be able to identify at least one plant, one crawler, and one critter that the students learned about from the Sonoran Desert Explorers website.  Engage in activities and assessments that reinforce new knowledge and tie special meaning to the content learned.  Create a habitat of the Sonoran Desert that exemplifies this understanding using different patterns, textures, materials, and colors to appeal to multiple senses.  

  • Computer with Internet Access
  • Printer with printer paper and black ink (you will not need to print in color)
  • Printable cutouts of desert animals, insects, and vegetation (I have provided seven printouts which are in the document downloads below. I have included one of a coyote, a gila monster, butterfly, javelina, common desert centipede, and two cacti. If you would like to expand on my collection, find printables online of the animals, vegetation, and insects that are included in the Sonoran Desert Explorers website)
  • Construction paper in assorted colors
  • Crayons, colored pencils, and markers
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks, rubber cement (should be used by teacher only), and stapler
  • Black permanent marker
  • Pencil
  • White cotton balls
  • Tri-Fold cardboard display board
  • Uncooked spaghetti noodles, broken into small pieces (will be used for the spikes on the cacti)
  • Sand paper (I purchased mine at Home Depot. All-purpose sandpaper, 100 grit grain, moderate to light removal)

(This lesson plan was designed to be as cost effective as possible. Most of the materials should be available to you already in your classroom or can be easily found around the house.  The Tri-Fold Display Poster and the Sand Paper are the only two materials most people will have to purchase.  One suggestion is to send home an announcement prior to doing the lesson asking parents if they have any of these items around their house and would like to donate them to the classroom.  This will get students excited for the activity and will create a sense of
accountability and ownership in the students.)


Everything in this lesson should be able to be done by students, although they may need help with certain tasks.  One thing the teacher may choose to do is to print out the animals, vegetation, and wildlife pictures and cut them out prior to the lesson, but this should be done at the discretion of the teacher.            


Ask your students what they already know about the Sonoran Desert.  What kinds of animals, insects, and vegetation call the Sonoran Desert home sweet home?  What do you think the climate is like in the Sonoran Desert?  How does the climate effect where insects, plants, and animals make their homes and obtain nourishment and shelter?  If you were an animal or insect in the Sonoran Desert, which one would you be and why?  Have you ever taken a walk, hike, or drive through the Sonoran Desert?  Have you been on a walk, hike, or drive through a desert of any kind before?  Go to the Sonoran Desert Explorers website and check out the site! Make sure to visit at least two pages from the Crawlers section, the Vegetation section, and the Wildlife section.  The animals/vegetation/insects that are incorporated into the habitat project should be explored.  Make sure that the class visits the pages for each of the animals, vegetation, and insects that they will be creating-at the end of the lesson, the classroom will be a Kindergarten of Sonoran Desert Experts!

  1. Break up students into small groups and assign each group an animal/insect/vegetation to work on.  While the students are working, take aside one group at a time and have them work on the background/scenery of the habitat poster.  Students will work in small groups and then come together to make the class’s very own Sonoran Desert Sensory Habitat. Keep in mind that students will be in groups and you will be calling up each group to work with you while other groups work on their designated portion of the project; Step 2, Step 3, Step 4, and Step 5 do not exactly go in order because they will be done simultaneously.   
  2. Call up first group.  Cut out sandpaper and paste to project board. Sandpaper represents the desert floor. Teacher may need to assist with cutting/pasting. Rubber cement should be used by teacher only. 
  3. Call up second group.  Have students color a sunshine and the sky.  Using a blue crayon instead of other coloring utensils for the sky is suggested. Feel free to use construction paper or any other materials you may have for the sunshine and sky.
  4. In their groups: Have students cut out, trace, and color their animal, vegetation, or insect.  Those students who are assigned to cacti should use the uncooked spaghetti noodles, broken into little pieces, and glue them to their cacti to make the "spikes".  Encourage students to use a variety of materials, colors, and patterns with their individual projects.  The goal is to have many patterns and textures included in the habitat to not only learn more about the Sonoran Desert, but to create an exhibit they can see and touch.  
  5. Call up final group.  Instruct students to take cotton balls and use their fingers to pull them apart.  Put glue on poster board and stick on the separated cotton.  These pieces of cotton will become clouds in the Sonoran Desert Sky!
  6. Have students bring up their finished projects. Use glue (and a stapler if needed) to adhere everything to the board.  Teacher should use stapler and rubber cement. Create title and add it to the poster. 
  7. Have students take turns coming up to the board.  Have them look at it, touch it, and make observations about the different animals, vegetation, and insects.  Have students write down on a piece of paper one thing that they learned from this activity.



After students have each had a turn to go up to the poster and look at it and touch it as well as write down their favorite part of the activity and one thing they learned, gather everyone together in circle time.  Have students take turns sharing with the teacher and their classmates what their favorite part of activity was and what they learned.  


Students should be able to tell the teacher what they learned about their animal/vegetation/insect.  They should be able to describe what it looks like, where it lives, what/how it eats, etc.  Students should find this information before they start the project.  


Have students with disabilities do the visual parts of this project, but excuse them from doing the writing portion of the assignment.  Encourage students to use their words to describe and communicate what they have learned.  Depending on the severity and type of disability the student has, you may need to assess the child in ways you wouldn’t normally go about assessing your students.  One option would be to encourage the student to draw a picture of he/she learned.  


Have gifted students write one to three sentences about they learned rather than just one sentence or drawing pictures.  Encourage them to help their group mates if they get stuck on a certain part of the assignment.  If student finishes early, have them revisit the Sonoran Desert Explorers website and explore around some more.  Instruct student to learn more about one animal, one lizard/snake, and one type of vegetation.  Give them the opportunity to share this new information with the teacher and the rest of the class during the circle time that will take place in the “Closure” portion of this lesson plan.  


Language Arts and Mathematics

Kassie Rehorn,
Oct 2, 2011, 2:25 PM
Kassie Rehorn,
Oct 2, 2011, 2:26 PM
Kassie Rehorn,
Oct 2, 2011, 2:27 PM
Kassie Rehorn,
Oct 2, 2011, 2:27 PM
Kassie Rehorn,
Oct 2, 2011, 2:27 PM
Kassie Rehorn,
Oct 2, 2011, 2:27 PM
Kassie Rehorn,
Oct 2, 2011, 2:27 PM