Hot, Dry; Cold, Dry

6, 7, 8

The purpose of this lesson is to acquaint the students with the four different types of deserts regions and their characteristics.

PrintTwo 45 to 50 minute class periods

The learner will:

  • identify the characteristics of each of the four zones of the Earth: Subtropical Deserts; Cool Costal Deserts; Cold Winter Deserts; Polar Deserts.
  • label a map with the name of at least one desert on each continent.
  • define stewardship.
  • Black line master of a world map. (See Bibliographical References for a source for maps)
  • Colored pencils
  • Atlases and/or physical world maps.
  • Video of deserts, approximately 30 minutes or less in length. (See Bibliographical References for suggestions)
  • What do we know about Deserts? chart from Lesson One
Home Connection 

Learners will take their maps home to share them with family members. They should ask if any of their family members have ever visited or lived in any desert regions.If they have, learners will add the name of the desert to the map.They should ask family members about the experience. Ask: Did you do anything to adapt to the environment? (wore a hat, used an umbrella for shade, carried water) Some learners may have family members that live or have lived in Middle Eastern desert areas.Be sure that learners include any information from those family members.



  1. Anticipatory Set:Review with the learners information gained in the previous lesson.Refer to the chart What we know about deserts? created in Lesson One.Tell them that they will continue exploring information about deserts and how to be good stewards of the land.They will also explore the characteristics that make a region a specific type of desert.

  2. Show the learners an informational video about deserts. (See Bibliographical References)

  3. Tell them as they watch the movie, to observe the general characteristics of deserts. (sand, very little water, high temperatures, cold temperatures, ice pack, few animals, not many people, few plants, plants and animals are generally small with the exception of camels)

  4. Explain that deserts are located in all three of the climate zones of the earth: Tropical Deserts are hot and dry;Temperate Deserts have extreme temperatures – hot during the day and cold at night, and Polar Zones are the farthest from the equator around the north and south poles and are very cold and dry.

  5. After viewing the movie, discuss what the learners observed.Add any new observations on the What do we know about Deserts? Chart using a third color.

  6. Compare the physical (natural not human made) characteristics of the area where the learners live with the characteristics of deserts. Possible comparisons might be: We have a lot of grass and trees and flowers, but the desert doesn’t.Some learners might live in a desert region and will have common characteristics. For example those that live in the southwestern United States or those that live in the Polar regions of northern Europe.

  7. Explain that in some deserts there are communities that have planted trees, built houses and created water sources, but these are notnatural to the environment.These are adaptations made to the environment by the humans to make the desert habitable.Tell the learners that in order to survive, humans must be good stewards of the land.Explain the word steward as: The conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one's care - stewardship of our natural resources.

  8. Ask learners to draw a World Map without tracing it.Include all seven continents and add the names of at least one desert on each continent. Give them several atlases/physical maps to use as resources.To accommodate those learners that need help, give them a blank black line map of the continents of the World and ask them to label the continents and deserts. (See Bibliographical References for Map Resources)

  9. Ask the learners to locate and label at least one desert on each continent.

  10. Using the colored pencils, color the map.Remind them to use good “map making” skills including TOAD-L (See Assessment)


Evaluate the maps for accuracy. All maps should include:Title (Deserts of the World); Orientation (compass rose); Author (learner’s name creating the map); Date (date map was created); and Legend(Picture representations of items on the map)(TOAD-L)

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify and give examples of stewardship in cultural traditions around the world.