At first glance a prairie may look flat, but if you look closer you’ll discover layers of life. In the book The Prairie that Nature Built, children are introduced to three levels of prairie life—creatures living in prairie grasses, underground, and in the sky over the prairie.
In this activity, students “build a prairie” by creating a mural of prairie animals and their homes at all three levels.
LESSON PLAN: Building a Prairie—Under, Over, and On
Suggested Grade Level: 1-3
- The book, The Prairie That Nature Built
- Roll of newsprint taped to the wall–long enough to accommodate pictures of prairie animals
- Index cards and pen
- Non-fiction resources about prairie animals
- Read the book, emphasizing the different levels of a prairie—on the surface, underground, and in the sky above.
- Explain to students that they will create a mural of the levels of the prairies by drawing the prairie animals and their homes.
- Use the illustrations in the book to review the animals in the story, writing their names on index cards. Sort the cards into three piles: UNDER, OVER, ON. Have each student choose one card making sure that an equal amount of students pick from each pile.
- Give students time to use resources to find out three facts about their animal. Have them write their facts on the back of their index card.
- Provide students with pieces of newsprint the appropriate size for their animal, and ask them draw a picture of the creature and its home. For example, the piece of paper for the prairie dog in its burrow will be smaller than the coyote in the grass. Tell students to draw their picture so it fills up their entire piece of paper, which will keep the animals in the correct proportion.
- When finished, have them cut out their animal and give them to you to tape to the newsprint on the wall. Some pictures will overlap. If some students finish early (probably those with small animals), have them choose a second animal to illustrate.
- Once everyone is finished, “build the prairie” one student at a time, beginning underground and working up to the sky. Have students, one by one, identify their animal, read three facts about the animal, and describe its home.
- Conclude by asking students which level would you most like to live on and why? Which creature would you most like to be and why?
Common Core Standards (ELA K-2)
- ELA Writing: Research to Build and Support Knowledge K.7, 1.7, 2.7 3.7
- ELA Reading and Literature: Key Ideas and Details (K.3, 1.3, 2.1, 3.1); Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7)
Next Generation Science Standards (K-3)
- LS1.A: Structure and Function
- LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
- LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems.