Contributor: Samantha Penna. Lesson ID: 11189

When you think of a desert do you think of snow and ice? There are various types of deserts and they exist on every continent! Learn (and write) about these dry but different and interesting climates!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2), Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

  • Did you know that most deserts get hotter than 100 degrees Fahrenheit?

Get out the bottled water! In this lesson, you will learn about the climate of deserts, and where they can be found.

Deserts cover over one-fifth of the Earth!

Check out the map below. This map shows you where deserts can be found on Earth. The yellow parts of the map show where the deserts are located:

desert map

Image by jkan997, via Wikimedia, is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

Most deserts are barren, meaning they have little to no plant life. Although deserts are arid (dry) and seem lifeless, there is so much interesting information to learn about them!


  • Did you know there are four types of climates that deserts can have?

The first desert type is the hot and dry desert.

Hot and dry deserts are warm all year and have very hot summers. The average temperature during the day varies between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Extreme temperatures can range between 100 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit!

At night, the temperature is generally between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes, the temperature at night can get as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit!

This desert type gets very little rainfall during the summer. During the winter season, this desert still gets very little rainfall. The soil in this desert is coarse and rocky.

The hottest desert on earth is the Sahara Desert. The Sahara Desert is located in Africa. Did you know the hottest temperature ever recorded in the Sahara Desert was 136 degrees Fahrenheit! That is extremely hot!

Some other deserts that have very hot temperatures are the Great Victoria Desert, the Arabian Desert, the Syrian Desert, and the Kalahari Desert. These are all examples of hot and dry deserts.

The first slide shows the Sahara Desert in Africa, and the second slide shows the Great Victoria Desert in Australia.

The next desert type is called a semi-arid desert.

Semi-arid deserts don't reach quite as high temperatures as hot and dry deserts. On average, the temperature of a semi-arid desert is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperatures here usually don't go over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, the temperature is usually around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Semi-arid deserts, just like all types of deserts, usually get less than ten inches of rainfall per year! The soil in semi-arid deserts is sandy, but can sometimes have rocks and gravel mixed in.

The first slide shows Red Rock Canyon in Nevada, and the second slide shows Castle Valley in Utah. Both of these pictures show semi-arid deserts located in the United States of America.

Another type of desert is a coastal desert.

Coastal deserts are warm. This desert type has daily temperatures that rarely go above 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the summertime. During the winter, the temperatures usually vary between 25 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coastal deserts get very little rain. The soil in coastal deserts is sandy and very fine, just like the soil in semi-arid deserts.

The first slide shows a satellite view of the Namib Desert of coastal South Africa, the second slide shows another picture of the Namib Desert, and the third slide shows the Atacama Desert of Coastal Peru.

First image by NASA, via Wikimedia, is in the public domain

The last desert type is a cold desert.

Cold deserts are found in Antarctica and Greenland. The summer temperatures vary between 70 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter, these temperatures drop to between 28 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold deserts get about 5 to 10 inches of snow over the winter. The soil is heavy and retains most of the moisture from the precipitation.

The picture below shows a cold desert in Antarctica:


  • What did you notice about all the desert types?
  • What do they all have in common?
  • Did you say that all deserts get very little rainfall?

California desert


In order to be considered a desert biome, the area cannot get more than 20 inches of rain. This means all deserts get less than 20 inches of rain per year!

Arizona desert

Move on to the next section to learn more about deserts.

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