Lesson Plans

GRADES K – 12
GRADES K – 5
GRADE 2
GRADES 4 – 5
GRADES 4 – 7
GRADES 4 – 8
GRADES 4 – 12
GRADES 6 - 12

 

GRADES K – 12

Audubon Rockies
http://rockies.audubon.org/get-involved/education-resources
Audubon Rockies offers a plethora of free resources for educators in Wyoming and Colorado.

Education Programs and Resources
From Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan
http://www.pcap-sk.org/education-programs-and-resources
Check out the teacher resources from theSaskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan and those related to: agriculture; climate change; environment; plants and animals; and soil, water and wetlands.

Grassland Ecosystems & Black-footed Ferrets
From the Toronto Zoo
http://www.torontozoo.com/pdfs/bff/teacher_activity_guide_full.pdf?a
The lessons help students: learn to describe changes or problems that could result in the loss of some kinds of animals; identify positive and negative impacts that different kinds of human activity have on animals and where they live; investigate the ways in which a variety of animals adapt to their environment; and more.

Grasslands: A Home for Wildlife and People
From the Bird Conservancy fo the Rockies 
http://www.birdconservancy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Grasslands.pdf
Habitat loss and degradation threaten the viability of grasslands to support healthy populations of wildlife and, in turn, healthy human communities. Grassland birds, in particular, have seen the sharpest declines of any birds in North America. Birds serve as important indicators of environmental health; they control insects and rodent populations, pollinate plants and are enjoyed year-round for their intrinsic beauty. This curriculum focuses on grasslands and the birds that rely on them for survival. Its place-based theme (“You live in a grassland”) is ideal for integrating all academic subjects into a curriculum that will engage learners in the place they live and their role in its future.

 

GRADES K – 5

American Bison
From the National Park Service
https://www.nps.gov/tapr/learn/education/upload/American%20Bison_new-2.pdf
The American bison was the largest mammal living on the largest ecosystem in North America. It dictated the functioning of the prairie ecosystem as well as the functioning of human culture for almost 10,000 years. Over the course of one generation, the animal, the ecosystem, and the human culture were nearly exterminated. Today, the bison is a symbol of the capacity for human destruction but also our efforts to preserve and restore.

Bison Benefits
From the U.S. Mint
http://www.usmint.gov/kids/teachers/lessonPlans/viewLP.cfm?id=174
Students will be able to identify the role of the American bison in the life of the American Indians and identify animals as natural resources.

Black-footed Ferrets: Picky Eaters
From the National Park Service
http://www.nps.gov/teachers/classrooms/blackfooted-ferrets-picky-eaters.htm
The black-footed ferret is one of the most endangered species in North America.  This is due to changes in both the habitat – prairie dog towns – and their food source – prairie dogs. Students will experience a simulation that investigates the impact of these changes and leads students to answer the questions: "What is the difference between a generalist and a specialist species? "How do changes in habitat and food sources impact species, specifically the black-footed ferret?"

Create a Prairie Roadside
From the Living Roadway Trust Fund of Iowa
http://www.iowalivingroadway.com/pdfs/createaroadside.PDF
This lesson is designed to create an awareness of the roadside prairie that can be found throughout Iowa (and other states).  The idea is to turn a portion of a hallway into a roadside prairie with the road being the hall and the walls being the roadside. However if that is to possible a bulletin board of a wall in the classroom will also work. The objective is to become more familiar with Iowa’s roadside plants.

Natural Inquirer
From the US Forest Service
http://www.naturalinquirer.org/
Search grasslands and/or prairies for resources. The Natural Inquirer is a middle school science education journal! Scientists report their research in journals, which enable scientists to share information with one another. This journal, The Natural Inquirer, was created so that scientists can share their research with middle school students. Each article tells you about scientific research conducted by scientists in the USDA Forest Service.  Check out “Meet Dr. Ford”, Natural Inquirer Reader Series (K-2) - http://www.naturalinquirer.org/Meet-Dr.-Ford-i-59.html

North American Bison Lesson Plan
From Woolaroc Museum
http://woolaroc.org/caffeine/uploads/files/the_north_american_bison.pdf
Students will: learn different biological and environmental characteristics concerning the North American bison; learn different cultures and customs of the Plains Indians (including their relationship with the buffalo) and compare the Plains Indian communication tools (such as oral history and pictograms) to present day communication tools; apply their knowledge of the bison and Plains Indians in order to complete a fill in the blank worksheet; experience an example of Indian oral history and folklore; and create their own storyline through symbols and pictograms.

Project Bluestem
From the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
http://www.tallgrass.org/education/curriculum/
The goals of the lessons are studying and becoming a naturalist; using nature journals; tracking phenology; and searching for wonder. In the revised lessons, the interest and questions of learners ultimately drive lesson objectives. Students are put in charge of constructing their own learning and field leaders serve as facilitators (not lecturers) in helping learners make independent, personal and consequently meaningful discoveries about the environment.

 

GRADE 2

Our Grasslands
From the Ohio Department of Education
http://dnet01.ode.state.oh.us/ims.itemdetails/lessondetail.aspx?id=0907f84c805317ae
Students will be introduced to the grassland environment and the plants and animals that live there. They will investigate the roles of predator and prey and how the loss of one or the other can upset the balance of nature. How animals protect themselves also will be introduced.

 

GRADES 4 – 5

Prairie Resources
From the Living Roadway Trust Fund of Iowa
http://www.iowalivingroadway.com/pdfs/prairieresources.PDF
Students will discover that although humans often use the word “weed” as a derogatory term, many weeds do offer benefits to wildlife and humans. Students will identify the resources prairies provide for life forms and the environment. The value of a prairie will be deduced based on its resources.

 

GRADES 4 – 7

Describing Grassland Biomes
From Arizona Future Farmers of America
http://www.azffa.org/downloads/Ag%20Ed%20-20Wildlife%20Lesson%20plans%20(Public)/Lessons/B4-1.pdf
After this lesson, students will be able to: describe grassland habitat, describe grassland fauna and flora, and identify locations of grasslands in North America.

Prairie and Grasslands Lesson Plans
From National Agriculture in the Classroom
http://www.agclassroom.org/directory/search_result_details.cfm?pid=3013
A number of lesson plans that focus on the importance of the prairie and grassland biomes. The lesson plans help students see the interdependence of animal life with the environment. They were written specifically for Kansas teachers/students, but can be adapted easily for other states with extensive prairie/grassland biomes. Titles include:

 

GRADES 4 – 8

Bison Mystery Box
From the National Wildlife Federation
https://www.nwf.org/~/media/PDFs/Be%20Out%20There/Schoolyard%20Habitats/BisonMysteryAct-Dec05.pdf
Students will investigate the many uses of bison in Native American culture.

Exploring the Prairie
From CampSilos
http://campsilos.org/mod1/index.shtml
Based upon reading original source materials and online resources, students will understand the characteristics of the native prairie lands. Upon completion of the learning activities in the Prairie Module, students will be able to:

  • Locate the prairie areas on a map of the United States.
  • Describe basic characteristics of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.
  • Use the WWW and graphic organizers to research and compare plants and animals characteristic of the tallgrass prairie.
  • Use a Web-based simulation and generalize how the rich prairie soil developed.
  • Evaluate the role of prairie fires in prairie renewal.
  • Take a position related to preservation of the prairie and support their position with information drawn from resource materials.
  • Communicate the results of research and analysis through a final project such as an editorial, brochure, debate, diagram, display board, poster, news broadcast, Web page, speech, letter, multimedia presentation, oral history, skit or magazine article.

Greater Sage-Grouse-Sagebrush Ecosystem Curriculum
From the US Fish and Wildlife Service
http://www.fws.gov/greatersagegrouse/education.php
This teacher’s guide contains lesson plans and other resources designed to help teachers engage their students in thinking critically about the sagebrush ecosystem and ways to support it. Lessons are aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards, and they contain numerous adaptations / extensions to meet the divergent needs of students in grades 4-8+. Care has been taken to incorporate the perspectives of diverse stakeholders, including plant and wildlife biologists, ecologists, educators, fire managers, indigenous peoples, and ranchers.

Natural Inquirer
From the US Forest Service
http://www.naturalinquirer.org/
Search grasslands and/or prairies for resources. The Natural Inquirer is a middle school science education journal! Scientists report their research in journals, which enable scientists to share information with one another. This journal, The Natural Inquirer, was created so that scientists can share their research with middle school students. Each article tells you about scientific research conducted by scientists in the USDA Forest Service.  Check out:

Prairie Life
From the National Park Service
http://www.nps.gov/home/forteachers/upload/Unit%205.pdf
This activity guide explores life on the prairie and students will learn about types of homes and work and disasters faced by homesteaders.

Soil Activity
From the Pawnee Buttes Seed Inc.
CLICK HERE for a soil activity in which students will observe and experience that soil covered with grass has less runoff. Also CLICK HERE for an image showing the root systems of prairie plants.  Native plants have extensive root systems that improve the ability of the soil to infiltrate water and withstand wet or erosive conditions.

 

WILD about Black-footed Ferrets
From ProjectWILD Colorado, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Colorado Division of Wildlife
http://blackfootedferret.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/WILD_about_BlackFooted_Ferrets_FINAL_press.pdf
WILD about Black-footed Ferrets invites your students and community to celebrate the progress of the black-footed ferret recovery program and get involved in the black-footed ferrets’ journey home. Every activity is designed to encourage creative thinking and problem-solving skills – both of which are vital to taking action and making decisions that conserve wildlife and respect human needs. While some of today’s conservation problems may seem insurmountable, the story of the black-footed ferrets’ comeback demonstrates that dedicated people can work together to create a positive vision of the future. Go to http://blackfootedferret.org/kits-kids/ for a coloring page, maze and food chain activity, Spanish packet, and more.

 

GRADES 4 – 12

Interdisciplinary: Prairie/Forest/Decorative Arts/Historic Native American – Natural Dyes from Plants
From the Illinois State Museum
http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/pdfs/dye_plants.pdf
After viewing the web modules of MuseumLink and doing this activity, students will be able to: explain and show how the dyeing traditions express the culture of the people; relate the similarities and differences in cultural traditions regarding coloring of functional objects and art objects; tell how people can change or lose or gain traditions when in contact with other cultures; ï explain how changes in technology affected cultural traditions (use of natural dyes); explain processes by which one can extract and use dye from plant materials; demonstrate specific effects achieved by varying the processes and materials used in the same; tell and demonstrate how settlers and Native Americans used plants to make dyes for their everyday objects (clothes, fabrics, leather, mats, yarns).

 

GRADES 6 - 12

Adopt a Rancher – An Interactive, Hands-on Learning Program
From Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan
http://www.pcap-sk.org/education-programs-and-resources/adopt-a-rancher
This program was developed in Saskatchewan, but could be adapted for the United States. Students in the Adopt a Rancher program analyze a ranch ecosystem in a case study that they develop themselves. By using a student guide and online resources and communicating with the adopted rancher, students will answer this question: How can ranching protect Saskatchewan’s native grasslands while providing economic benefits for Saskatchewan people? (SK PCAP requests to be acknowledged in the use of their education material and contacted to be made aware of the impact of their education programs.)

Grasslands
From Environmental Education in Wisconsin
http://eeinwisconsin.org/Files/eewi/2011/Unit01Grasslands.pdf
Grasslands explores the tall grass and short grass prairie flora and fauna that used to cover southern Wisconsin. Many of the lessons are based on the availability of prairie gardens at which to study. 

How Many Bison?
From the National Wildlife Federation
https://www.nwf.org/~/media/PDFs/Be%20Out%20There/National-Wildlife-Week/2011/How-Many-Bison-7-10.pdf
Students will learn to use a standard sampling technique to determine a bison population.

Prairie Grasslands
From GlobalChange.gov
http://www.globalchange.gov/browse/educators/wildlife-wildlands-toolkit/eco-regions/grassland
https://downloads.globalchange.gov/toolkit/eco-regions/Prairie_Grasslands_6_9_09.pdf
Climate change will affect the prairie grasslands ecoregion by pushing temperatures higher and decreasing rainfall in certain areas.  Check out these activities:  Wetlands/Migration Simulation;  graphing/data analysis; and landsat activity.
 

Save the Black-footed Ferrets STEM Teaching Kit
From Auburn University and the National Science Foundation
http://www.auburn.edu/~cgs0013/ETK/SaveTheFerretsETK.pdf
Through building an energy self-sufficient town, students will realize that as people expand we can easily get what we need without taking more space away from other animals. We do not need to build large power plants and expansive wire grids anymore. It is not only the black footed ferret that is negatively affected from habitat loss and conversion, but almost every other endangered species such as: tigers in India; pandas in China; and lions, elephants, and gorillas in Africa. If people can learn to utilize the space they occupy in the most efficient manner using renewable natural resources, we can not only increase space needed for other species but create a healthier world.

Partners

FSNatureLIVE USDA Forest Service Prince William Network CBS Denver Whiting Petroleum Corporation Pawnee Buttes Seed Inc.
Reserva de la Biosfera de Janos Channel 44/Canal 44 El Canal de las Noticias Bird Conservancy of the Rockies The Nature Conservancy - Reserva Ecologica El Uno
CONANP Aves Argentinas Saskatchewan Prairie Conservation Action Plan Environment for the Americas Soapstone Prairie Natural Area