Teaching sequence

Lesson objective

In this lesson students identify the physical features of desert and semi-arid regions and develop their understanding of how kangaroos have adapted to suit these environments.


Ask students to individually record their ideas on what they think the terms ‘desert’ and ‘semi-arid' mean. Also ask what rainfall, temperatures, sunlight, and environmental features they think are specific to such regions.

Organise students into cooperative learning teams and have them share their ideas as well as identifying the words or phrases the two terms have in common. Use these to develop group definitions.

Share these definitions with the class and look for commonalities. Compare these with definitions from a dictionary or other sources such as the websites listed in Useful links.


  1. Explain to the students that they are going to be learning about how the kangaroo has adapted to the desert environment and how it is able to adapt to the changing conditions of this environment in order to survive.
  2. Inform students they will be presenting an annotated diagram to demonstrate their understanding.
  3. Write the following questions on the whiteboard for the class to see.
    • What structural adaptations do kangaroos have that enable them to survive in a semi-arid environment?
    • What behavioural adaptations do kangaroos exhibit that enable them to survive in a semi-arid environment?
  4. Ask the students to share their thinking with a partner then record the class responses.
  5. Distribute the worksheet Kangaroo adaptations to each student. Provide them with time to read through the information and ask any clarifying questions.
  6. Engage in a discussion about the text then ask the students to identify the key information they will need to create an annotated diagram of a kangaroo. Discuss the features of a correctly annotated diagram and show them some examples from appropriate reference materials so they have clear expectations.
  7. Ask students to complete an annotated diagram showing the structural and behavioural adaptations that enable kangaroos to survive in semi-arid environments and how kangaroos are able to adapt to the changing conditions within this environment.
    Teacher note: Instructions on creating annotated diagrams can be found in Background information.


Use the the 4–2–1 strategy, by first recording four phrases or sentences that best sum up how kangaroos adapt to their environment. Request students to then work with another person to reduce this to two sentences or phrases.

Then have them work with another pair to agree on the one sentence that best describes how kangaroos have adapted to their environment and the changing conditions.

Record these outcomes and display in the classroom.

Lesson Resources


Student activities


Kangaroo adaptations (Word, 427 KB)

Useful links

Biomes – living worlds. Desert plant adaptations, Oracle ThinkQuest. Information for teachers 

M006899 Extremes: survival in the great deserts of the Southern Hemisphere, NDLRN. Education kit

Nature notes: Red Kangaroo, Alice Springs Desert Park. Information for students 

Spotlights on biodiversity: desert, Oracle ThinkQuest. Information for students 

The desert biome, University of California. Images and information