In biology we begin the year with the characteristics of life, and then move into ecology. I like starting with ecology because it involves relatively easy concepts. Many students will have learned the basics in middle school, so it’s not a scary way to start the year. When working my way through the content, I essentially just teach in the order of the levels of organization (start with population dynamics, move onto community interactions… you get the idea. End with biomes).
I generally don’t have a ton of time left in the quarter, so if I get to spend 2-3 days on biomes thats a win. Since time is short I focus on the big picture- what causes these biomes? What patterns do we see when we look at a biome map? Why is biodiversity important within biomes? What is the human impact on biomes? Big picture concepts. What I DO NOT spend time on is having students memorize information about each biome. My goal is for students to walk away with an understanding of why biodiversity is important and how we can protect the natural world, not ramble off facts such as which biome receives the most precipitation and which biome has the greatest swing in annual temperature. (Stepping off soapbox).
Here is a list of some fun activities you can use to teach biomes:
MISSION BIOMES: Need a website for students to do research on each biome so they can complete their brochure? Check out this site from NASA.
BUILD A BIOME: This online interactive allows students to build a biome based on plants, animals, rainfall, and temperature.
CLIMATOGRAMS: Want to include some graphing practice in your ecology unit? Have students read climatograms for each biome with this worksheet.
SPEED DATING: There are a few biome speed dating activities that are available for free on the internet. (I cant always find a reliable link so you will need to do a Google search).
I hope you can use one (or two!) of those activities!