Posted by: Jacquie Fisher   

Ecology for Kids: Learning about Biomes

Wow has summer just flown by or what?!  The kids only have a few more weeks before they start classes here (they are NOT ready to go back) and this is the last topic in our Summer Science series.

If you've missed the previous science projects and booklists, please check out the links at the bottom of the post -- Trisha (Inspiration Laboratories) and I have had such a fun time pulling together hands-ons science and many of the activities can be used year round!

 

Our last week is devoted to the science of Ecology, which is how we (humans, plants, animals) all live together and relate with one another.

Kind of like the HUGE spider who's decided to live with us this summer and built a web on our back deck (this thing is really a monster of an arachnid).  But I know that we both need to share the space so I just move my chair a little farther away and try to ignore her on most days :)

So why is it that I'm sharing my deck with a spider (and my yard with a red fox on most nights) instead of having a moose or crab as a neighbor?

The answer is Biomes!

 

moose-rocky-mountain-park

Biomes are major ecological communities that are defined by the plants, animals and climate that exist in that area.   Being in Kansas, I live in a Grasslands Biome which supports animals like spiders and fox (and not moose, which is a bummer since I think moose are pretty high up on the 'cool animal' scale).

A biome is different from a habitat -- it's much larger and will many times include multiple habitats.

During a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park a few summers ago, we were able to experience multiple biomes as we travelled through the different areas of the park.  You could easily see the change in plants and wildlife in the different areas -- and yes, we saw a moose (actually, three!)

There's some discussion among scientists about the number of biomes but overall, there are 5 major types of biomes on the earth.  However, when most teachers and scientists discuss biomes, they break them down into more specific ecosystems so there are usually 7 areas -- Aquatic, Tundra/Alpine, Desert, Rainforest, Grasslands/Savanna, Tiaga and Deciduous Forest.

Kids Discover magazine has a nice map of the biomes around the world along with a brief description of each one.

 

Books about biomes and ecology

Books about Biomes

Since we can't travel to all the different biomes, books and photos offer a great way to learn about the animals and plants that exist in each one. 

As you're looking at the pictures and reading the books, talk to the kids about the characteristics of animals and plants that live in each biome.  And we've included affiliate links so you can learn more about each of the books on the list.

 

I would suggest beginning with a book like What Is a Biome? which highlights the various biomes around the world and includes photos, charts, maps and short chapters about each one.  Although it's written for kids ages 8 - 11 years, it works well with younger children too as the photos can be discussed without reading the entire text.

 

Another book that features all the ecosystems is Many Biomes, One Earth.  This is really a beautiful book but does use illustrations instead of photos which may appeal to younger children.  The text is perfect for kids ages 4 - 7 years.

 

And very young children (ages 3 - 5 years) will learn quite a bit in this bedtime picture book.  The Animals Sleep: A Bedtime Book of Biomes shows us which animals are quietly sleeping in various ecosystems around the world.  The book also has a nice summary of information about biomes in the back.

 

There are also wonderful books that showcase life in specific biomes --

 

One of the most prevalent biomes shared in children's literature is the rainforest.  The Rainforest Grew All Around is one of those books that kids will love to look at over and over -- the illustrations are gorgeous!  And like all books published by Sylvan-Dell, at the end of the story the reader will find all types of activities and information.  This is a perfect book to introduce the topic of biomes to kids ages 4 - 8 years.

 

Kids ages 3 - 8 years old will also enjoy the If I Ran the Rain Forest: All About Tropical Rain Forests from one of our favorite science series, The Cat in the Hat Learning Library.  Explore all the animals and amazing plant life in this fun and rhyming story.

 

A Walk in the Boreal Forest is one of the books in the Biomes of North America series.  Older kids (ages 8+) will enjoy the beautiful photos and details of the animals who live in each of the ecosystems.  I also really like  A Journey into the Ocean from this series too.

 

Another wonderful series that highlights each of the ecosystems is the Explore the Biomes books.  Explore the Deciduous Forest will draw kids in with it's great photos and short chapters that cover the plants and animals found in the biome.  Great for kids ages 7 - 10 years.

 

There are also books that show us how important each animal or plant is to all the others who live in the ecosystem.  What If There Were No Gray Wolves?: A Book About the Temperate Forest Ecosystem shows the reader what would happen if just one animal were removed from the biome.  Another book in the series,  What If There Were No Bees?: A Book About the Grassland Ecosystem, is very intuned to the current plight of the honeybee and how it will impact the food supply for humans.

 

The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library also includes Why Oh Why Are Deserts Dry?: All About Deserts.  One of the things I love about this book is that it highlights deserts from around the world, both hot and cold!  Yep, there are cold desets -- boggles the mind :)  You'll also find some interesting facts about how plants and animals adapt to their surroundings.

 

Hands-on Ecology

One of the best ways to learn how animals live and adapt to their environment (or how they become endangered) is to participate in a citizen scientist project.

 

real life science projects for kids

There are 100's of Citizen Scientist projects going on throughout the year.  Families and classrooms can register (for free) to be involved in many of them, collect data right in their own backyard and then submit the information to scientists.  Check out these 10 Real Life Science Projects that kids can do!

 

food chain activity

Inspiration Laboratories is sharing a great activity about food chains this week and how important that are in ecology.

 

Be sure to visit all of the awesome booklists & activities for all the science topics!

 

Summer Science for Kids

 

June 25th -- {Biology}

Books & Websites that explore Plants, Animals & the Human Body

Backyard Earthworm Experiments

 

July 2nd -- {Geology}

The Science of Rocks, Fossils and Volcanoes

Become a Rock Collector

Digging for Dinosaurs -- Learn to be a Paleontologist

 

July 9th -- {Astronomy}

Explore the Night Sky - Marshmallow Constellations

The Earth, Moon & Sun

Books about Space

Solar System Activities for Kids

 

July 16th -- {Physics}

Fantastic Forces & Water Rockets

Exploring Color and Temperature

Does your Food Sink or Float?

 

July 23rd -- {Chemistry}

Create Your Own Wizard's Lab

Make a Cup Cake (Chemistry of Baking)

Blowing Up Balloons/Blowing Out Candles

 

 

July 30th -- {Ecology}

Kids Activities that Explore Ecology

A Lesson about Food Chains

Learning about Biomes

Create an Under the Sea World: Exploring Ocean Zones

 

 

 

Chemistry Experiments: CO2 Balloons & Candle Trick
A Very Vintage Back to School

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