|National Content Standards
Life Science Content Standard C:
• The characteristics of organisms
• Life cycles of organisms
• Organisms and environments
• Populations and ecosystems
• Diversity and adaptations of organisms
• Biological evolution
• Interdependence of organisms
• Matter, energy, and organization in living systems
Catclaw Sensitive Briar
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
“It appears as though the stars from heaven have fallen on
the earth.” - Charles Dickens
Before the European settlers arrived, there were huge prairies stretching
for miles across the North American continent. Only remnants about
1%-2% of this environmental habitat remain. This has prompted restoration
projects by government agencies, foundations, and nonprofit organizations
in several states. Preserves have been established by sowing native
seeds and employing controlled burning, a necessary element for keeping
the prairie healthy. In addition, naturalists are conserving old
cemetery grounds where indigenous plants have not been disturbed.
Teachers and students can learn about prairies through virtual field
trips or by visiting a nature center nearby. Back in the classroom,
students can use this knowledge to design and plant their own prairie
as part of the school landscape. Then, watch as the grasses grow,
flowers bloom, and critters flourish.
American Field Guide: Prairies
Watch over twenty-five video clips about prairie habitats, restoration,
and fire management at this PBS Website. Incorporate these clips
into your lessons or use The Formation and Value of Temperate Grasslands
provided by PBS. Students will be fascinated with the wealth of information.
Backyard Wildlife Habitat - National Wildlife Federation
At first you may think a garden project will be an overwhelming
task. However, it is not difficult with careful planning and help
from the National Wildlife Federation. Simply follow their step-by-step
process. Create your habitat team, inventory, survey, and map the
site, set goals, provide four basic elements, acquire resources through
community outreach, fundraisers, and incorporate the habitat in cross-curricular
learning. After completing your project, apply to be a certified
Bell Live On the Prairie
Bell Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota provides
a virtual experience in exploring the prairie. The four parts include
Live from the Prairie, Build-A-Prairie, Field Guide to the Prairie,
Curriculum Goodies, Experience the Prairie, and Researching the Prairie.
They also provide materials on teaching ecosystems that match the
National Education Standards.
Restore a shortgrass and tallgrass prairie by clicking on Build a
Prairie. Select the plants and animals that will live in your prairie
by consulting the A Field Guide to the Prairie. If you select a harmful
plant or animal, you will be provided with a reason why and allowed
to make a correction. Watch your garden grow from page to page. At
the end of your prairie building process, there is information about
maintaining the garden using prescribed burns. On the Prairie Curriculum
Goodies includes information about the history of the Dakota Indians
and bison. English words are translated into the Dakota Indian name
with a pronunciation guide. Click on the Indian name and hear the
audio pronunciation in the Dakota language. Other features include
a list of Websites with information about prairies categorized by
state and country and a list of reserves in the United States with
their phone numbers. Since the prairie is one of North America’s
great ecosystems and a vital habitat for many plants and animals
this site offers a great resource in understanding and restoring
Into the Outdoors-It’s an Adventure!
Department of Natural Resources and Discover Mediaworks sponsor
programming that encourages learning
and enjoyment of the
great outdoors. Search or browse articles on this Website. Type in
the word Prairie and discover links to many different articles. Select
What is a Prairie to find information about the three types of prairies
with links to a selection of plants growing in each environment.
Appealing photographs depict the beauty of these prairie habitats.
Click on milkweed to discover how it was named and other amazing
facts. Click on plants and animals to access two interactive posters
that enable you to learn more about the creatures that inhabit the
prairies. Click on Critter Corner to find details about prairie wildlife.
Vertebrates, invertebrates, birds, and mammals all live on the prairie.
Rounding out the site is a teacher’s page with activities,
calendar, resources, and news.
Friends of the Prairie Learning Center
The Neal Smith
National Wildlife Refuge and Website has a mission that includes
increasing public awareness of the
public participation in prairie restoration and preservation, and
promoting public use and enjoyment of the refuge. More than five
thousand acres of tallgrass prairies and native Midwest wildlife
are located near Prairie City, Iowa. The refuge is a reconstruction
of the native plant and animal communities found in Iowa during the
mid 1800s. The site describes the prairie ecosystem that has been
reconstructed on five thousand acres and the educational programs
available. There are maps of the area for driving and walking. The
Kid Stuff link includes an interactive Prairie Passage word search.
Take a Hike in a neighborhood to look for objects in nature, answer
questions, and email your results to Friends of the Prairie Learning
Center. Read and create poetry in the Prairie Poetry and send in
your best work to the site. Take a tallgrass prairie virtual tour.
Answer the questions at the bottom of the screen and learn more about
prairies. Don’t miss the photo gallery of plants and animals
on the prairie. Links to the National Geographic Prairies site and
the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge provide additional information.
The Prairie Ecosystem link includes colorful maps of the United States
indicating the three distinct areas of prairie development. Iowa
Prairies is a book that may be ordered for one dollar from Iowa’s
Biological Communities Series. There is also an educator’s
link that includes information for teachers.
You may be surprised to know that prairies are a native ecosystem
to Ohio. Learn about the prairie regions of Ohio, native plants,
and Making a Prairie Garden. Maps provide an overview of the prairie
land prior to European settlement. If you are looking for large close-up
photographs of prairie species, view selected Ohio prairie species
with over thirty breathtaking shots of flowers from blazing-star
to queen-of-the-prairie. Be sure to print Making a Prairie Garden
to use as a resource in your classroom. This handy guide includes
an introduction to prairie gardening, choosing the site, planning,
collecting seeds, planting, and maintaining the garden. Another helpful
feature is the list of companies where you can purchase seeds.
Science Adventures on Konza Prairie
Pick a trail to follow on the Konza Prairie. Educational trails
include grasshoppers, prairie fires, insect galls, butterflies, plant
diversity, streams, prairie chickens, bison, biomass, and phenology.
Then, read the background information and complete an activity that
may include data or specimen collection from the Konza prairie. For
this reason, you will want to adapt the lesson to your area. These
are great hands-on problem solving activities for a summer day.
Listed below are a few companies that sell prairie seeds. You may
also wish to search the Web for more listings or check your local
your Pocket: A Guide to Plants of the Tallgrass Prairie by Mark Miller
This nifty foldout identification guide will serve you well on a
school field trip. It is laminated and literally would fit into a
pocket or pouch. The colorful illustrations are accompanied by the
common and scientific names, plant height, and bloom time.
with Prairie Plants by Sally Wasowski
Gardening with Prairie Plants is a comprehensive guide divided into
three sections. Prairies and Prairie Gardens show an array of examples
that feature different combinations of flowers and grasses. Design,
Installation, and Maintenance provides interesting ideas and tips
for creating and maintaining your masterpiece. Plant Profiles is
an exhaustive compendium of plants featuring maps where the native
Guide to Prairie Reconstruction by Carl Kurtz
For a community interested in reconstructing a prairie on a small
to large plot of land, this book will serve as a quick guide. Topics
range from site selection to planting with farm equipment.