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One Pretty Great State

Three Plant & Animal Regions!

Utah is a diverse state (that means we have a lot of variety). We have wetlands, forests, and deserts. Each has plants and animals that are specially adapted (able to handle the differences in that area) to that region. A duck isn't too happy in the desert. Lizards aren’t fond of wetlands. You get the idea. Let’s take a look at each region and the plants and animals that live there.
Wetlands are associated with water. They occur around ponds, lakes, rivers and streams. Marshes are wetlands. These places are popular! Plants can get water easily, so they grow lush and green. Animals have a place to drink. The water is filled with plant and animal life such as algae, fish, frogs and waterfowl. Even people want to live near water.
Forests are about trees! Deciduous forests have trees that shed their leaves each year. Quaking Aspen, Scrub Oak, and Cottonwoods all loose their leaves in the fall and get new ones each spring. Mixed_ForestConiferous forests contain evergreens. These trees and shrubs don’t loose their leaves (so they appear always green, or evergreen!)They have needles and my have cones. Pines, junipers, spruce and firs are all conifers. Look around your yard or school. Can you identify trees and shrubs that are coniferous and deciduous? In forests you will see some areas of mixed trees and shrubs – a few aspens among the pines, for example.

Forest animals are specially adapted to live among these trees and shrubs. Deer, elk, cougar, and bobcat all call the forest home. Can you think of any others?


A desert receives little precipitation, less than 10 inches annually. The plants and animals of desert regions adapt. They survive with little water. Some animals avoid the heat of the day. They do their hunting and scavenging at night when temperatures are cool.
Many desert plants have a waxy surface to keep their water from evaporating. Some have shallow roots to catch any rain quickly. Others send roots deep into the earth to tap underground sources of water.

Wheel Around Utah!

Create a wheel book about Utah. Design your own or print and cut-out both parts of this one provided for you.

  • In each section write one of the following: Wetland, Forest, or Desert.
  • Draw a picture including at least one plant and one animal of each region. You may need to check books or the Internet if you don’t know what they look like.
  • Here are some plants and animals that live in Utah:
    • PLANTS: sagebrush, pinion pine, Utah juniper, spruce, fir, oak, quaking aspen, cottonwood, cattail, bulrush, prickly pear.
    • ANIMALS: jackrabbit, cottontail, red fox, coyote, mule deer, elk, moose, cougar, bobcat, deer mouse, kangaroo rat, muskrat, beaver, gopher snake, rattlesnake, lizard, tortoise, frog, salamander, red-tailed hawk, barn owl, lark, robin, pinion jay, magpie, crow, trout, catfish, carp, grasshopper, ant, moth, butterfly, housefly, bee, wasp, pill bug, millipede.
  • Color the cover and cut out the triangle to form a window.
  • Put the windowed piece over your three-section piece.
  • Insert a brad in the middle so the wheel can turn.

Download the plug-ins: Get Adobe Acrobat Reader , and Get Quicktime Player. (The QuickTime plug-in is needed to play sounds and movies correctly.)

Want to share photos of you or your friends doing this activity? Send it in an e-mail with the following information:

  1. The title of the activity
  2. The URL (Internet address)
  3. Your name.

Remember that no pictures can be used that show student faces or student names on it. 

Teachers should view the Teacher Site Map to relate Sci-ber text and the USOE 4th grade science core.

Updated October 24, 2008 by: Glen Westbroek

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