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Biomes are the world’s major ecological communities, classified by climate and native plants and animals. Some scientists divide the world into hundreds of biomes. Others use groupings of five or six major biomes. Although there is little agreement among scientists on exact biome classifications, the importance of preserving the earth’s habitat is not debated.
Biomes of the World
Six terrestrial biomes (rainforests, desert, tundra, grasslands, taiga, and temperate) are covered in depth in these attractive pages from the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Each biome topic includes pages on plants and animals, a photo gallery and a links section. Freshwater and marine ecosystems have their own sections (look for the text links at the top of each page.) Straight-forward text and beautiful photos make this great site for elementary and middle-school report writers.
Earth Floor: Biomes
Developed at the Wheeling Jesuit University/NASA Classroom of the Future in West Virginia, Earth Floor: Biomes is a small part of the larger Exploring the Environment site. Earth Floor divides the world into six biomes, each briefly explained in a single page. The best click is How to Read a Climagraph (a chart showing monthly precipitation and temperatures) and the climagraphs for each biome. Teachers for grades K through 4 will find classroom activities in the K4 Earth Science Biomes Module (http://www.cotf.edu/ete/modules/k4/teacher/biomes/biomes.html).
Enchanted Learning comes with a special recommendation from my ten-year old daughter. She loved the printable, color-me animals that are linked from each biome page, and used them for her grasslands report. Another fun activity is the printable Biome calendar, which features a different biome to color each month. Enchanted Learning will be a sure hit with elementary students, although at times the site is very slow.
EO Laboratory: Mission Biomes
Reference material, maps, a glossary of biome vocabulary, and two interactive, self-correcting missions all add up to my pick of the day! The Great Graph Match mission (match the climagraph to the correct biome) can be completed as a beginner (select an answer from two choices) or an advanced student (pick your answer from a list of six biomes). To Plant or Not to Plant asks where in the world each of eight plant specimens must go. Teachers of grades three to eight will find additional resources, such as books and classroom tips, at the bottom of each page.
The World’s Biomes
This biome site from the University of California, Berkeley was created several years ago by a biology class. It divides the world into five biomes: aquatic, deserts, forests, grasslands and tundra. Best click is the section on conservation that explains why each biome is important. Middle school and high school students will be able to overlook the fact that this site has very few pictures and will find an excellent bibliography for further study.