We are working on a Science unit on habitats and I thought I'd share our journey. I love taking these journeys with my kids. I often learn (or sometimes relearn) just as much as they do.
To get started learning about habitats and adaptations click here to watch a short video. There will be questions during the video to check for understanding.
We watched this Magic School Bus video, "All Dried Up" to build interest in learning more about desert habitats.
Next I am planning on doing a cactus experiment to learn about how they can survive in the desert. Begin by watching this very short video on adaptations of desert plants.
Instruct your student that the cactus plant can survive with very little water, and some kinds can live for years without any water at all. This is why they do so well in hot dry desserts. Cactus roots spread out near the surface so that they can soak up moisture from dew or brief rainstorms. Most plants lose water through tiny breathing holes in their leaves and stems but not the cactus. The cactus has spines instead of leaves, and fewer holes in their stems, so less water can escape.
Tell the children that when it does rain, the cells inside the stem of the cactus absorb water the way a sponge does if you were to sprinkle water on it or try to wipe water off a surface with it.
Try the following experiment.
Grab 6 paper towels and get them nice and damp.
Roll 3 of them and put them in a plastic grocery bag, plastic wrap or wax paper.
Roll the other 3 towels but don't put anything around them.
Put all the paper towels in the sun.
Come back the next day to make observations.
Explain that the "skin" surrounding the one set of paper towels is similar to the skin of the cactus in that it keeps the moisture in the paper towel.