Desert Plant Adaptations

In this activity, students will learn about specific adaptations that allow plants to survive in the harsh desert environment.

By completing this lesson, your students will be able to:

  • Explain the difference between traditional photosynthesis and CAM.
  • Measure how much shade is created by cactus spines.
  • Evaluate the impact of different substances on water evaporation.

More About this Lesson Plan

Wild Kids is a collection of simple activities that can be used to introduce students to different wildlife and life science concepts. Each activity includes a two page printable student worksheet and a page of teacher instructions. They have been aligned to the Arizona academic science standards and can be used to promote three dimensional teaching.

In this activity, students will read about some specific adaptations that plants have to survive in the harsh desert environment. Then, they will have the opportunity to run two simulations to see some of these adaptations firsthand.


  • Eric Proctor, Wildlife Education Coordinator,
    Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD)
  • Other AZGFD staff

Standards Correlation

This lesson has been correlated to the following Arizona Department of Education academic standards:

  • High School

    1. HS.L2U1.21

Education through AZGFD

See resources for teachers, including lesson plans. Learn about hunter education, and classes to earn bonus points.

teacher resources

The goal of the AZGFD education program is to promote awareness, appreciation and stewardship of the state’s wildlife resources by using wildlife as a context for learning.

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hunter education for bonus points

Classroom and online instruction, and field days for hunter education. Online “Ethically Hunting Arizona” class allows hunters to earn a lifetime bonus point.

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