The tundra biome is one of the youngest and least complicated biotic communities on this planet. The earth remains frozen down to 3 feet underground most of the year. The top layer of rock and permafrost thaws for a brief time during warmer months, which allows for the growth of moss, lichen and other ground cover. The tundra is known for its lack of tree growth. The frozen ground doesn't allow for the deeper root systems that trees require. The only trees found in the largest part of the tundra, the Lower Arctic Tundra, are evergreens. The tundra can support some animal life like arctic birds and lemmings. Creating a tundra biome for the fifth grade is an effective way to teach the class about the vegetation and animal life in this environment. Most of the items for the biome can be collected outdoors.
Paint the outside and inside of the box with brown paint. This will create an even background for viewing the biome.
Stand the box on its side, horizontally, and line the bottom side (on the inside) with about 2 inches of brown modelling clay. This symbolises the frozen layer of earth. It doesn't need to be flat and even. It should look bumpy and uneven.
Place rocks in the clay to cover the surface of the clay. This symbolises the rocky layer above the frozen earth.
Roll a piece of blue modelling clay into a snake shape and press it onto the rocks to make a stream or creek pattern.
Put a thin layer of brown modelling clay on top of the rocks to symbolise the thin layer of permafrost that thaws slightly to allow growth of moss, evergreens and lichen. Be sure not to cover the stream.
Push the moss and shrub bits into the thin layer of clay on the rocks to symbolise the thin layer of vegetation on top of the frozen rocks and earth.
Roll up a small ball of brown modelling clay and place a piece of evergreen branch into it so that it looks like a small tree. Push the clay on the end of each tree into the clay on top of the rocks, near the stream, to help the trees stand up. Repeat for the rest of the trees. The tundra has a limited number of trees, and they grow close together, so place them close together and sparingly.
Pinch off a small amount of black modelling clay and form into a "V" shape for a bird. Press it gently onto one of the trees or sitting on a rock. Repeat to make as many birds as desired.
Roll a small piece of clay into a ball and flatten it into an oval shape. Use the end of the toothpick to make small indentations for eyes in the front of the oval. Gently press it into the clay near where two rocks meet. This symbolises a lemming that lives in the rocks. Repeat to make as many lemmings as desired.
Tear the white paper into long strips or a variety of shapes. Glue to the top and sides of the inside of the box to symbolise the sky, clouds or atmosphere around the biome.
Things you need
- Large shoebox
- Brown paint
- Paint brush
- Small to medium-size rocks
- Pieces of shrubs
- Small evergreen branches
- Brown modelling clay
- Black modelling clay
- Blue modelling clay
- White paper