The Topic: 
Prairies

Easier - A prairie is a region of flat, gently sloping, or hilly land covered chiefly by tall grasses and not many trees. Pioneers who first saw the flat prairies of the American Middle West called them a 'sea of grass.'
 
Harder - Prairies, also called grasslands, are one of the main types of natural vegetation or biomes (Others include forest, desert shrub, and tundra). Prairies are areas where either low total annual rainfall (10-20 inches) or uneven seasonal rainfall favor grasses and herbaceous plants over the growth of trees. In some locales, soil conditions or geology also favor grasslands over other types of vegetation. Therefore, most prairies lie between desert shrub and forest lands. Prairies are found on every continent except Antarctica.
 
Prairies in North American extend from central Texas to southern Saskatchewan, including most of Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, South Dakota, and North Dakota, and parts of other nearby states and provinces. Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba are the 'Prairie Provinces' of Canada. Today, most of these prairie grasslands are farms and ranches. In many locations, overgrazing by livestock has killed most of the taller grasses.
 
 
Grasslands from the Evergreen Project, Missouri Botanical Gardens
http://mbgnet.mobot.org/sets/grasslnd/main.htm
By exploring this virtual biome, you will learn about the grasslands types and the plants and animals found there.
Related Site:
2) Grasslands Biome http://mbgnet.mobot.org/pfg/diverse/biomes/grasslnd/index.htm
 
History of Prairies
http://www.eng.iastate.edu/explorer/topics/prairies/history.htm
Learn about the history of prairies back to time of creation of the planet.
 
Prairie Ecosystem 
http://www.blackfootedferret.org/prairie.html#top
Here you find information about the North American prairie,one of the most endangered ecosystems on earth.
Related Websites:
2) North American Prairies http://www.runet.edu/~swoodwar/CLASSES/GEOG235/biomes/tempgrass/prairie.html
3) Temperate Grasslands
http://www.runet.edu/~swoodwar/CLASSES/GEOG235/biomes/tempgrass/tempgras.html
 
Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois by K.R. Robertson 
http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~kenr/tallgrass.html
Site introduces the tallgrass prairie of the eastern Great Plains of North America. It includes information on the basics of prairie biology and formation, the plants and animals, where to find tallgrass prairie in Illinois, prairie restoration, and more.
Related Websites:
2) Native Kansas Prairie http://history.cc.ukans.edu/heritage/prairie/prairie.html
3) Prairies in the Prairie State: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie from Openlands Project and Illinois State Museum Society http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/midewin/intro.html
4) Tallgrass (Missouri) by J.M. Vance http://www.conservation.state.mo.us/conmag/1996/mar/mr96van.html
5) Tallgrass Prairies http://people.uis.edu/braeb1/uisprairieproject/tallgrass_prairies.htm
6) Truth About Tallgrass from Tallgrass Ontario http://www.tallgrassontario.org/about_tallgrass.htm
 
 
After exploring and learning about prairies at the websites below, complete one or more of these projects.
 
Pest Or Endangered Species? Historically, many farmers and ranchers, and today some suburban dwellers view the prairie dog as a harmful pest that must be controlled in order to limit disease and protect the land. In addition to the prairie dog sites below, visit: 
1) Praire Dogs from Cattlemen on the Hill http://hill.beef.org/policy/prairdogs.htm
2) Prairie Dog Debate Is Hardly Underground by B. Whitaker from Abilene Reporter News
http://www.reporternews.com/local/pdogs0525.html
3) Prarie Dogs -- The New Bambi? by J. Carmichel
http://www.outdoorlife.com/outdoor/hunting/article/0,13285,195064,00.html
4) Target Stores Off On Prairie Dogs by S. Truelsen http://www.fb.org/views/focus/fo99/fo0215.html
5) Varmint Hunters Could Save the Prairie Dog by by E. Quillen
http://www.custerguide.com/quillen/eqcols/19993302.htm
Then debate the protection of the prairie dog. Next, switch sides on the issue.
 
Create A 'Save The Prairies' Poster. After exploring several of the prairies sites including Grasslands, Nebraska Wildlife, and Friends of the Prairie Learning Center, create a poster that packs a message to its viewers. Include a slogan and make good use of color. You may want to include pictures or drawings of plants and animals.
 
Prairie Mural: Prehistory To The Future. After visiting many of the websites, making sure to include The Prairie Pothole Region and Prairies: Rediscovering a Fragile Frontier, choose a location and then plan and create a mural that begins with a prehistoric prairie (left side) and extends to the future. You may want to make a timeline as part of the planning process.
 
Complete A Prairies WebQuest. Follow or adapt the procedures found at one of the following webQuest sites:
1) Prairies Biome by K. King http://www.cesa10.k12.wi.us/webquest/Eco/prairies.htm
2) Prairie Challenge (Grade 4) by V. Mahoney
http://www.dg58.dupage.k12.il.us/Webquest/vanessa%20mahoney/vanessa%20mahoney
3) Sarah, Plain and Tall
http://schoolweb.missouri.edu/oregon-howell.k12.mo.us/brassfield/sarahwq/intro.html
4) Web Quest Prairie Museum (Grade 5) by D. Mentzel
http://d_mentzel.tripod.com/Prairie/
 
Plan A Prairie Restoration Plot. After visiting Native Prairie Management Guide, Prairie Parcel Restoration, and Outline of a Prairie Restoration make a complete plan for a prairie restoration project. Draw a layout and complete a landscape plan for your project. Develop a timeline for the project. Calculate the costs for the first year. Look for information about seeds, soils, and planting at Prairie Seed Mixes, Prairie Seed Source, and Prairie Frontier Wildflowers & Prairie Grass.
 
Life On The Prairie. Select a plant or animal that lives or lived on the prairie. Learn all about it, its history, and the effects of human interaction. Taking the perspective of your plant or animal, write a prairie short story about your life or some major event affecting you.
 
Websites For Kids By Kids
Prairie Index (Grade 6)
http://www.cesa10.k12.wi.us/Ecosystems/prairies/index.htm
This student-produced database includes animals, plants, book reviews, historical events, original stories, people, prairie types, and links for prairies.

 

More Prairie Websites
Background on the National Grasslands in the Northern Great Plains from the National Wildlife Federation
http://www.nwf.org/grasslands/northerngreatplainsbackground.html
The Northern Great Plains National Grasslands encompass more than 2.4 million acres of land in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska. These lands, administered by the U.S. Forest Service, are federal public lands and belong to all Americans.
Related Website:
2) Manitoba's Tall-grass Prairie Preserve from The Green Lane, Environment Canada
http://www.mb.ec.gc.ca/nature/whp/df00s08.en.html
 
Friends of the Prairie Learning Center 
http://www.tallgrass.org/
This center has information on the plants and animals of the prairie, as well as information on the restoration and preservation of prairies.
 
Grasslands (Prairies and Savannahs) 
http://www.nearctica.com/ecology/habitats/prairie.htm
This site provides a good overview of grasslands and lots of links to other related prairie sites.
 
Iowa Prairie Network
http://www.IowaPrairieNetwork.org/
This site, provided by a grassroots organization dedicated to creating awareness of and preservation of our tallgrass prairie heritage, is designed to acquaint you with prairies and inform of their plight as one of North America's most endangered biomes.
 
Prairie Ecosystem
http://www.pnr-rpn.ec.gc.ca/nature/ecosystems/da00s01.en.html
This Canadian site provides an overview of the prairie ecosystem and the human induced stress factors that are causing or could potentially cause change (Advanced reading level).
 
North Dakota Prairie
http://www.greatplains.org/resource/1999/heritage/heritage.htm
Once defined by boundless prairie and a myriad of pothole wetlands, this land knows years of drought and years of abundant rainfall; searing dry heat and brutal subzero wind chills; the prairies can erupt in flame and then next season burst forth in a profusion of flowers.
 
Prairies: Rediscovering a Fragile Frontier by H. Youth 
http://fonz.org/zoogoer/zg1999/28(3)prairie.htm
This aritcle from Zoogoer magazine provides an overview of the present plight of the prairie and its inhabitants.
   
Where Can Prairies Be found?
http://www.eng.iastate.edu/explorer/topics/prairies/where.htm
See a map where prairies could originally be found.
 
Animal & Plant Life of the Prairies
Black-footed Ferret 
http://bb35.tpwd.state.tx.us/expltx/gulf/sbranch/ferret.htm
This site from Spring Branch Middle School describes the ferret and tells of efforts to reintroduce them in the wild.
Related Site:
2) Saving Species: The Black-Footed Ferret by K. Hess, Jr. from The Thoreau Institute
http://www.ti.org/bffshort.html
 
Declining Birds in Grassland Ecosystems 
http://www.mesc.usgs.gov/pubs/online/grassbirds/birds_grassland_eco.html
Here you can read the report of a 1966 Department of the Interior Grassland Bird Working Group.
 
Nebraska Wildlife
http://www.ngpc.state.ne.us/wildlife/critters.html
Discover Nebraska wildlife from the coyote to the wild turkey to the raccoon.
 
Prairie Animals at EarthWorks 
http://www.lx.org/ewprairie.html
This links-site connects to several websites for prairie animals.
 
Prairie Frontier Wildflowers & Prairie Grass from Prairie Frontier
http://www.prairiefrontier.com/
This seed company website provides information about native prairie plants, wildflowers, and planting techniques.
 
Prairie Raptors: A Landowner's Guide
http://www.mb.ec.gc.ca/nature/migratorybirds/raptors/dc17s00.en.html
An online manual on the raptors (hawks, owls) of Canada's prairies and other grasslands with information on their conservation.
 
Restoring Animal Population
http://www.teaching.ag.iastate.edu/aecl535/animals.htm
Information on restoring animal populations.
 
Story of the Prairie Chicken 
http://www.tenan.vuurwerk.nl/reports/newton/prairie_chicken.html%0D
Here is a site based on the book 'The American Prairie Chicken' by Mary Adrian, and retold by a third grade class in Newton, Illinois.
 
Underdogs: Prairie Dogs at Home 
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/features/98/burrow/index.html
(Note: Site is difficult to access, keep trying - its worth it!) Crawl down the tunnel and learn about the secret world beneath the plains where miles of complex underground burrows shelter prairie dogs from birth to death.
Other Prairie Dog Sites:
2) Conservation of the Prairie Dog Ecosystem
http://www.wildrockies.org/PredProj/4Campaigns/PDGE/PDhome.htm
3) Save the Prairie Dog? http://www.prairiedogs.org/
4) Saving the Black-tailed Prairie Dog and their Grasslands Habitat from National Wildlife Federation http://www.nationalwildlife.org/prairiedogs/index.html
 
Prairie Management and Restoration
Conservation of Canadian Prairie Grasslands (A Landowner's Guide by G.C. Trottier) 
http://www.mb.ec.gc.ca/nature/whp/prgrass/df03s00.en.html
This guide promotes grassland conservation on private land (High reading level)
 
Native Prairie Management Guide by R. Hamilton 
http://www.clinton.net/~hamfam/prairie/html/entire_guide.html
The guide provides various management techniques, presents historical factors related to management, general management guidelines, discusses grazing, mowing, burning, alien species management, introduction of native species, and adjacent land management.
 
Outline of a Prairie Restoration 
http://www.netins.net/showcase/bluestem/restore.htm#top
Restoring a prairie is a long term project; whether it is a backyard or a thousand acres the time factor is really no different. The process can be broken into five steps: planning, preparation, planting, care, and enjoyment.
 
Prairie Parcel Restoration 
http://www.ncrel.org/mands/FERMI/prairie/Prairie_Res/
This guide is designed for those individuals interested in restoring an area of land back to native prairie.
 
A Few Teacher Sites
Cebration of Prairie Life (Grade 4) by P. Healey, C. Zinke, R. Dagostino, V. DePriest, & C. Ferguson,
http://www.op97.k12.il.us/instruct/IArts/Prairie/prairie.html
Here is a multidisciplinary unit plan that encompasses social studies, language arts, science, math, music, dance, and visual art.
 
E Connection: Prairie Restoration 
http://www.ktca.org/econnection/lessons/prairie.html
This restoration plan is designed for the colder climate of Minnesota. Grow your own prairie plot, and explore how these plants use the cold conditions to thrive.
 
Life on the Great Plains (Learning Guide 4, Crossroads
http://edsitement.neh.gov/lessonplans/great_plains.html
In this four-part lesson, students examine the oncept of geographic region by exploring the history of the Great Plains.
  
Midewin Activities for Classrooms from Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
http://www.openlands.org/midewin/table.htm
Activities were developed by the Chicago Academy of Science's Education Department with assistance from Chicago-area school teachers. There is one activity for each grade level (K-12) in three categories: Language Arts/Fine Arts, Social Studies, and Science/Math.
 
Prairie Restoration and Prairie Ecology by G.D. Latta 
http://www.accessexcellence.org/AE/AEC/AEF/1996/latta_prairie.html
Here is a lesson plan for an extended activity involving hands-on tasks, inquiry lab, authentic assessment, group/cooperative learning, community outreach, and field study.
 
Smallville Prairie Development Project 
http://www.ncrel.org/mands/FERMI/prairie/4Prairie/4sum.html (Grade 4-5)
http://www.ncrel.org/mands/FERMI/prairie/6prairie/6sumry.html (Grade 6-8)
http://www.ncrel.org/mands/FERMI/prairie/9prairie/9sum.html (Grade 9-10)
Here is an interesting project for school students on the mythical Smallville Prairie.
  
tallgrass
mixed-grass
shortgrass
grasslands
prairies
quail
grouse
pronghorn antelope
bison
grasshopper
farming
hawk
owl
badger
coyote
restoration
burning
savanna
steppe
black earth
bluestem
Indian grass
blazing star
coneflower
goldenrod
sunflower
milkweed
cottonwood
bird
oak
osage orange
cattail
sedge
veld
plains
Great Plains
invasive species
overgrazing
burrow
raptor
woodlot
sod
sodbuster
black-tailed prairie dog
black-footed ferret
butterflies
native

ecosystem

badger
controlled burn
'waving grass'
blizzard
alien plant
windbreak
'ocean of grass'
black eyed susan
worm
seed dispersal
big bluestem
wildflower
biome
buffalo grass
'Great American Desert'
snow
steel plow
biodiversity
 
 
 
Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 8/99, Updated by Nancy Smith 2/02.