This free, printable, unit study is a ministry of Heather Idoni, and Funschooling Units
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by Karen Caroe

There are deserts in Africa, Asia, Australia, South America and North America. Almost 20% of the Earth's land surface is desert. The purpose of this unit is to acquaint the student(s) with the location of several deserts, the animal life, the plant life, the peoples, some history, and other unique features of each desert.


DESERT TREK (World Explorer Series) by C.Milner. Published by Gallery Books
DESERTS (Habitats of the World Series) by Sheri Amsel. Published y Raintree Steck~Vaughn
DESERT BABIES by Kathy Darling. Published by Walker and Company.
CACTUS DESERT (One Small Square Series) by Donald M. Silver. Publishd by W.H. Freeman and Company.
*****There are many books available in the libraries and at your local bookstore. I went to the Children's Section at the bookstore for most of these. There are many to choose from.
******Of course an Atlas and Encylclopedia are excellent "jumping off" points for this study.

PERIODICALS: We enjoy the KIDSDISCOVER magazine. The 2 issues we used for this study were: Deserts (Vol.3, issue 2) and Australia (Vol.6, issue 1) Kids Discover, 170 Fifth Avenue, NewYork, NY, 10010. (212) 242-5133.

*******National Geographic has many, many issues on various deserts. They can be found at the library.

VIDEOS; Eyewitness Desert by DK andSee How They Grow: Desert Animals by Sony Wonder.



***Just a note, we do not incorporate Math into this unit. You could however create your own word problems based on statistics.
***We use SIMPLY GRAMMAR by Karen Andreola. Using a Literature approach, I select a different paragraph from our reading each week, and we use it with Simply Grammar to learn different grammar lessons. (Similar to Learning Language Arts Through Literature)

WEEK ONE: Introduction to deserts of the world. Where they are located, names, etc.
1. View Eyewitness video as an intro to the unit.
2. Look at Atlas to see desert locations.
3. Learn to spell and say the names of the deserts.
4. Read Desert Trek as an introduction to the unit
5. List any preconceived ideas the child has about deserts.
6. List questions the child wants to have answered.
7. Have child write a short paper (or paragraph) telling about deserts (this should be put aside, added to, and edited at the end of the unit) This will help you evaluate what the student has learned.
8. Make some sand art--either by gluing colored sand on heavy paper/posterboard, or buy filling jars with colored sand. These can be turned into candles by putting wicking in first, holding it up with the sand and sealing it into the jar with melted wax.
9. Start a history lesson on Desert Fathers

WEEK 2 : Africa
1. Find Africa on a map and locate the deserts. Sahara in the North and Namib/Kalahari in the south. Talk about the continent of Africa.
2. Make a fact sheet about each desert.
3. Discuss (orally or in writing) how the 2 deserts are the same and how they are different.
4. Locate the African countries that are in deserts. Learn to spell them.
5. Are there any desert cities?, National Parks? If you visited what could you do?
6. What plant life grows there? How has God equipped the plant to survive?
7. What about animals? How do they survive?
8. People? How are they different from the other people of the country? How do they survive?
9. Science: What is an example of a food chain in this desert?
10.What is an "oasis."
11. What factors influence the '"stability" of this desert?
12. How is this desert changing? Is that good or bad?
13. History: Who are some famous people and what are some famous events that have happened here.?
14. Continue reading about the Desert fathers.

WEEK 3 ASIA: (The Gobi and The Arabian)
Work through these deserts the same way as Week 2.
1. Watch the Lawrence of Arabia or another classic movie.
2. Learn about Arabian Horses (developed in Arabian desert)
3. Look at some Mongolian Artwork. It is quite unique.

1. Discuss the continent of Australia
2. Watch the video: Miracle Down Under.
3. Read about Australia and the Outback
4. What is an "aborigine"?
5. Learn some "Australian" words (G'day mate)
6. Research as in Week 2.

WEEK 5 South America: The Atacama
1. Locate Chile on the map.
2. Learn about the Nomad project.
3. Continue through the study as in Week 2
4. What makes this desert incredibly unique?

WEEK 6 North America: The Sonora and Mojave
1. Locate the Southwest Region on the map.
2. Study through these deserts as you have been doing.
3. Use this week to study desert animal and babies.
4. Learn about the Native Americans who live(d) in the Southwest.
5. Learn to weave.
6. Study Southwest architecture
7. Take a look at the High Desert in New Mexico--Albequerque.
8. Take a hot air balloon ride (tee hee)
9. What is "adobe"? Can you make some?
10. Rent a documentary on one of the Southwest Indian tribes.

WEEK 7 Closure
1. Complete the paper that was begun in week one.
2. Build a diarama of one of the deserts that was studied.
3. Select one or two pieces of information learned from each desert. What can you say about Desert Habitats that you didn't know before?
4. If you were a desert person, which desert would you want to live in and why? What changes would you have to make in your lifestyle?



This unit is easily turned into a "mini-unit" by selecting just one desert to study. Additionally, you can take one desert and expand it into several weeks. My intention was to give my children an understanding of how different deserts can be and how our wonderful Creator made the plants and animals perfectly for their environment.


For questions, comments, and suggestions, Please e-mail Heather at

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