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Desert Dwellers

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Summary

Students will identify common plants and animals of the desert. Students will explain physical and behavioral characteristics of desert plants and animals. Students will use voice, expressive language, and interesting vocabulary in their writing.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • 50 State Quarters

Objectives

  • Students will identify common plants and animals of the desert.
  • Students will explain physical and behavioral characteristics of desert plants and animals.
  • Students will use voice, expressive language, and interesting vocabulary in their writing.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts
  • Science

Grades

  • Second grade
  • Third grade

Class Time

Sessions: Two
Session Length: 30-45 minutes
Total Length: 46-90 minutes

Groupings

  • Whole group
  • Pairs
  • Individual work

Background Knowledge

Students should have a basic knowledge of:

  • The writing process
  • Plants and animals

Terms and Concepts

  • Quarter
  • Obverse (front)
  • Reverse (back)
  • Riddle

Materials

  • 1 overhead projector (optional)
  • 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the "Arizona Quarter Reverse" page
  • "Arizona 3-2-1" worksheet
  • 1 class map of the United States
  • 1 copy of a text that gives information about the state of Arizona. For example:
    • G is for Grand Canyon: An Arizona Alphabet by Barbara Gowan
    • Arizona (America the Beautiful Series) by Jean F. Blashfield
    • Arizona (Rookie Read-About Geography) by Millie Miller and Cyndi Nelson
  • 1 copy of a text that gives information about the Sonoran Desert. For example:
    • A Desert Scrapbook: Dawn to Dusk in the Sonoran Desert by Virginia Wright-Frierson
    • Here is the Southwestern Desert by Madeleine Dunphy
    • Saguaro Moon: A Desert Journal by Kristin Joy Pratt-Serafini
    • Cactus Hotel by Brenda Z. Guiberson
  • Chart paper
  • Markers

Preparations

  • Make an overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the "Arizona Quarter Reverse" page.
  • Make copies of the "Arizona 3-2-1" worksheet (1 per student).
  • Locate a text that gives information about the state of Arizona (see examples under "Materials").
  • Locate a text that gives information about the Sonoran Desert (see examples under "Materials").
  • Create a chart with the alphabet listed vertically down the left side.

Worksheets and Files

Lesson plan, worksheet(s), and rubric (if any) at www.usmint.gov/kids/teachers/lessonPlans/pdf/254.pdf.

Session 1

  1. Describe the 50 State Quarters® Program for background information, if necessary, using the example of your own state, if available. Then display the transparency or photocopy of the Arizona quarter reverse. Locate Arizona on a classroom map. Note its position in relation to your school’s location.
  2. Ask the students to examine the Arizona quarter and tell you what they know about the image. Explain to the students that the image represents the Grand Canyon and the Saguaro cactus. Ask the students to share what they already know about these two things. Note their responses on chart paper.
  3. Ask the students to think of reasons why these items might be in the quarter design.
  4. Display the "Arizona 3-2-1" worksheet. Briefly review the directions so that the students will be prepared to complete the worksheet after listening to the selected text.
  5. Introduce the students to the selected text about Arizona. As a group, preview the text. During the reading, add to the chart information about Arizona as it is presented. Pay special attention to text that relates to the Saguaro cactus and the Sonoran desert. Attend to unfamiliar vocabulary and concepts.
  6. After finishing the selected text, review the charted information about Arizona. Distribute an "Arizona 3-2-1" worksheet to each student. Explain the directions to the students and allow time for them to finish the work.
  7. Afterward, encourage the students in pairs to share their work with each other.

Session 2

  1. Display the transparency of the "Arizona Quarter Reverse" page. Review with the students the material covered in the previous session. Ask the students to discuss information they heard about the Sonoran desert, home of the Saguaro cactus shown on the Arizona quarter.
  2. Introduce the students to the selected text about the Sonoran desert. As a group, preview the text. Display a two-column chart labeled "Desert Plants" and "Desert Animals." During the reading, list desert living things on the chart. Attend to unfamiliar vocabulary and concepts.
  3. Explain to the students that they will each be creating a riddle about a desert plant or animal. Define "riddle" as a description that someone presents so that others can guess what’s being described. Share the example below or create one based on the selected text.What am I? I am a small mammal that lives in the desert. You will find me sleeping in my burrow during the heat of the day. Like many desert animals, I am nocturnal. I have huge ears that help me keep cool in the hot sun. I come out at night to hunt for food, and I have very good vision at night. I look a bit like a small dog to some people. I can make a barking sound, but usually I am shy and run away from people. What am I? (Answer: a fennec fox)
  4. To model the process, create a class riddle on chart paper about the famous Saguaro cactus. Guide the students to include both physical and behavioral characteristics in the riddle. Also focus on using expressive language and interesting vocabulary. Demonstrate sentence variation, as students will be tempted to begin every sentence with "I." Each riddle should begin and end with "What am I?"
  5. Each student will choose one of the plants or animals noted on the chart created during the reading about the Sonoran desert. Distribute a "Desert Riddles" worksheet to each student. Direct the students to work independently to create their riddles.
  6. Allow time for the students to complete their riddles.
  7. Ask the students to individually share their work with the class and allow the rest of the class to guess the answers.
  8. Display the riddles in the classroom.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Allow students to work in pairs to write their riddles.
  • Provide various texts on desert plants and animals for students to use in writing their riddles.
  • Provide a framed paragraph (for example: I live in ____. I have _____. You can find me _____.)
  • Allow students to dictate their written responses.

Enrichments/Extensions

  • Have students create additional riddles about other desert plants and animals.
  • Create a class book of desert riddles.
  • Have students research other environments and create riddles about the plants and animals that live there.
  • Have students gather other quarters and create riddles based on their designs.

Use the students’ class participation, worksheets, and final riddles to evaluate whether they have met the lesson objectives.

There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: L.2 Language
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
Standards:

  • L.2.4. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grade 2 reading and content, choosing flexibly from an array of strategies.
    • Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
    • Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known prefix is added to a known word (e.g., happy/unhappy, tell/retell).
    • Use a known root word as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word with the same root (e.g., addition, additional).
    • Use knowledge of the meaning of individual words to predict the meaning of compound words (e.g., birdhouse, lighthouse, housefly; bookshelf, notebook, bookmark).
    • Use glossaries and beginning dictionaries, both print and digital, to determine or clarify the meaning of words and phrases.
  • L.2.5. Demonstrate understanding of word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
  • Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., describe foods that are spicy or juicy).
    • Distinguish shades of meaning among closely related verbs (e.g., toss, throw, hurl) and closely related adjectives (e.g., thin, slender, skinny, scrawny).
  • L.2.6. Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: L.3 Language
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
Standards:

  • L.3.4. Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning word and phrases based on grade 3 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies.
    • Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
    • Determine the meaning of the new word formed when a known affix is added to a known word (e.g., agreeable/disagreeable, comfortable/uncomfortable, care/careless, heat/preheat).
    • Use a known root word as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word with the same root (e.g., company, companion).
    • Use glossaries or beginning dictionaries, both print and digital, to determine or clarify the precise meaning of key words and phrases.
  • L.3.5. Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
    • Distinguish the literal and nonliteral meanings of words and phrases in context (e.g., take steps).
    • Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., describe people who are friendly or helpful).
    • Distinguish shades of meaning among related words that describe states of mind or degrees of certainty (e.g., knew, believed, suspected, heard, wondered).
  • L.3.6. Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain-specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships (e.g., After dinner that night we went looking for them). 

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: L.2 Language
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Conventions of Standard English
Standards:

  • L.2.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • Use collective nouns (e.g., group).
    • Form and use frequently occurring irregular plural nouns (e.g., feet, children, teeth, mice, fish).
    • Use reflexive pronouns (e.g., myself, ourselves)
    • Form and use the past tense of frequently occurring irregular verbs (e.g., sat, hid, told).
    • Use adjectives and adverbs, and choose between them depending on what is to be modified.
    • Produce, expand, and rearrange complete simple and compound sentences (e.g., The boy watched the movie; The little boy watched the movie; The action movie was watched by the little boy).
  • L.2.2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
    • Capitalize holidays, product names, and geographic names.
    • Use commas in greetings and closings of letters.
    • Use an apostrophe to form contractions and frequently occurring possessives.
    • Generalize learned spelling patterns when writing words (e.g., cage --> badge; boy --> boil).
    • Consult reference materials, including beginning dictionaries, as needed to check and correct spellings.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: L.3 Language
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Conventions of Standard English
Standards:

  • L.3.1. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
    • Explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences.
    • Form and use regular and irregular plural nouns.
    • Use abstract nouns (e.g., childhood).
    • Form and use regular and irregular verbs.
    • Form and use the simple (e.g., I walked; I walk; I will walk) verb tenses.
    • Ensure subject-verb and pronoun-antecedent agreement.
    • Form and use comparative and superlative adjectives and adverbs, and choose between them depending on what is to be modified.
    • Use coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.
    • Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.
  • L.3.2. Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
    • Capitalize appropriate words in titles.
    • Use commas in addresses.
    • Use commas and quotation marks in dialogue.
    • Form and use possessives.
    • Use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other studied words and for adding suffixes to base words (e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness).
    • Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word families, position-based spellings, syllable patterns, ending rules, meaningful word parts) in writing words.
    • Consult reference materials, including beginning dictionaries, as needed to check and correct spellings.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.2 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Comprehension and Collaboration
Standards:

  • SL.2.1. Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 2 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
    • Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
    • Build on others’ talk in conversations by linking their comments to the remarks of others.
    • Ask for clarification and further explanation as needed about the topics and texts under discussion.
  • SL.2.2. Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
  • SL.2.3. Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue. 

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.2 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
Standards:

  • SL.2.4. Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.
  • SL.2.5. Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
  • SL.2.6. Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification. (See grade 2 Language standards 1 and 3 for specific expectations.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: SL.3 Speaking and Listening
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Comprehension and Collaboration
Standards:

  • SL.3.1. Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 3 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.
    • Come to discussions prepared, having read or studied required material; explicitly draw on that preparation and other information known about the topic to explore ideas under discussion.
    • Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., gaining the floor in respectful ways, listening to others with care, speaking one at a time about the topics and texts under discussion).
    • Ask questions to check understanding of information presented, stay on topic, and link their comments to the remarks of others.
    • Explain their own ideas and understanding in light of the discussion.
  • SL.3.2. Determine the main ideas and supporting details of a text read aloud or information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
  • SL.3.3. Ask and answer questions about information from a speaker, offering appropriate elaboration and detail.
  • SL.3.4. Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • SL.3.5. Create engaging audio recordings of stories or poems that demonstrate fluid reading at an understandable pace; add visual displays when appropriate to emphasize or enhance certain facts or details.
  • SL.3.6. Speak in complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation in order to provide requested detail or clarification. (See grade 3 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.) 

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.2 Reading: Informational Text
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Key Ideas and Details
Standards:

  • RI.2.1. Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
  • RI.2.2. Identify the main topic of a multi-paragraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.
  • RI.2.3. Describe the connection between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text. 

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.2 Reading: Informational Text
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
Standards:

  • RI.2.7. Explain how specific images (e.g., a diagram showing how a machine works) contribute to and clarify a text.
  • RI.2.8. Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text.
  • RI.2.9. Compare and contrast the most important points presented by two texts on the same topic.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.2 Reading: Informational Text
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Craft and Structure
Standards:

  • RI.2.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 2 topic or subject area.
  • RI.2.5. Know and use various text features (e.g., captions, bold print, subheadings, glossaries, indexes, electronic menus, icons) to locate key facts or information in a text efficiently.
  • RI.2.6. Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.3 Reading: Informational Text
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Craft and Structure
Standards:

  • RI.3.4. Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 topic or subject area.
  • RI.3.5. Use text features and search tools (e.g., key words, sidebars, hyperlinks) to locate information relevant to a given topic efficiently.
  • RI.3.6. Distinguish their own point of view from that of the author of a text.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.3 Reading: Informational Text
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
Standards:

  • RI.3.7. Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
  • RI.3.8. Describe the logical connection between particular sentences and paragraphs in a text (e.g., comparison, cause/effect, first/second/third in a sequence).
  • RI.3.9. Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: RL.3 Reading: Informational Text
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Key Ideas and Details
Standards:

  • RI.3.1. Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
  • RI.3.2. Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.
  • RI.3.3. Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.2 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Research to Build and Present Knowledge
Standards:

  • W.2.7. Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., read a number of books on a single topic to produce a report; record science observations).
  • W.2.8. Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
  • W.2.9. begins in grade 4.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.3 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Research to Build and Present Knowledge
Standards:

  • W.3.7. Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
  • W.3.8. Recall information from experiences or gather information from print and digital sources; take brief notes on sources and sort evidence into provided categories.
  • W.3.9. begins in grade 4.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Applying Knowledge to Language
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Use of Spoken, Written, and Visual Language
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Discipline: Science
Domain: K-4 Content Standards
Cluster: Life Science
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Characteristics of organisms
  • Life cycles of organisms
  • Organisms and environments

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Applying Strategies to Writing
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Applying Strategies to Text
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound–letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Effective Communication
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.

Discipline: Science
Domain: K-4 Content Standards
Cluster: Science as Inquiry
Grade(s): Grades K–12
Standards:

  • Ability necessary to do scientific inquiry
  • Understand scientific inquiry