Few concepts in the natural sciences are as amenable to the K through 12 classroom as biomes. The diverse and living nature of these systems makes them interesting to teach and learn. An effective way to teach biomes to a younger audience is through art. Student art projects can familiarise children with a biome's geographical distribution, rich diversity of species and sensitive ecology while giving kids a chance to have fun with art.
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Biomes of the World
This project gives students a "big-picture" understanding of biomes. Students draw world maps and build up the continents and mountain ranges with clay. Students then paint the clay continents with colours representing the region's biomes. Use white for arctic tundra, yellow for savannah, green for deciduous forest etc. Then let kids cut out animal and plant figurines from card board, tape them to tooth picks and place them in their proper biome.
This project gives students an intimate understanding of a particular biome. Give students a shoebox and have them select a biome. The shoebox will serve as a biome panorama. The lid can be cut away and the shoebox can be turned on its side. Students cut out animal and plant figurines to place inside the shoebox. They can also paint a typical scene from the biome's environment onto the back of the shoebox. When finished, students can present their shoebox to the class.
This project lets students team up and learn about their local biome. Take students on an excursion to their local park and have them observe their local animal and plant life. Use this as a chance to teach them about their own biome. When they return to class, work with them in drafting an idea for a biome mural. The mural should provide a scene from their local biome and be adorned with images of local plants and animals. This project takes some time to complete, so it must be seen as semester- or year-long side project.
Animals, Paintings and Puppet Shows
This project focuses on developing artistic technique while learning about a specific animal. Have students look through nature magazines and select an image that they would like to paint. Have them stencil the animal's image on a piece of paper and then paint it with watercolours. When they are done, have the students who painted animals from the same biome break into groups and preform a puppet show in which their painted animals demonstrate life within their biome.
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