Building a Prairie—Under, Over, and In
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 under the ground, in the prairie grasses, and flying over the prairie in the sky.
In this activity, students “build a prairie” by creating a mural of prairie animals and their homes at all three levels.
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—under, on, and below.
- Explain to students that they will create a mural on the newsprint by drawing the prairie animals and their homes on the prairie, above the prairie, or below the prairie.
- 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. Tell them 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
Next Generation Science Standards (K-3)
- LS1.A: Structure and Function
- LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
- LS2.A: Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems.
This is the final posting for the Inside Outside Nature blog, and next week begins a brand new blog—Common Core: Making the Connection.
My main goal for Inside Outside Nature has been to provide you with book suggestions, lessons, and resources to help you connect your children to the beauty and wonder of nature, while at the same time helping you meet your science curriculum needs. Most of the lesson suggestions I’ve shared with you have been activities I’ve used successfully in my own classroom!
But Inside Outside Nature is now two years old, and a major change has swept through education since this blog began—namely the Common Core State Standards! These English and Math standards have been adopted by 46 states, leaving teachers scrambling to figure out how Common Core standards can be implemented into their existing curriculum.
Many teachers are wondering, “How do I need to change my teaching to meet the standards? What resources can I use?” And parents ask, “What are my kids going to be learning now? How is it different than before?”
My new blog, Common Core: Making the Connection, will answer these questions. Each week I’ll be featuring a picture book that aligns with Common Core and Next Generation Science standards. The featured books will also align with Dawn Publications’ mission to help you encourage children to bond with the Earth in a relationship of love, respect, and intelligent cooperation.
One leg of the stool is Common Core standards—helping a child learn through reading.
The second leg is Next Generation Science standards—helping a child understand and explore the world.
The third leg is picture books—helping a child to learn new information about the world and be inspired by creative words and beautiful images. A book that reaches children’s hearts as well as their minds.
I hope to make your life a little easier by giving you suggestions and lessons you can easily implement in your classroom—ways to engage your students and inspire them to connect with nature.
Reduced stress, better sleep, improved immune function, and relief from depression—these are just a few of the many proven benefits of spending time outside in nature. But what if you just can’t be outside regularly? Do you need a quick “nature booster”?
That’s why my husband and I created the new Nature Portals Card Deck just for you! Using it can help you maintain a connection with nature—with nature’s peace, energy, goodness.
One side of each card features a stunning photo, carefully selected not only for its beauty, but also because it evokes a feeling. The flip side recommends a way to expand on that feeling to experience a deeper connection with nature.
This versatile 52-card deck can be used indoors or out!
INSIDE: Relax and Renew Yourself
Give yourself the special treat of connecting with nature even if wintery weather keeps you inside. Go through the cards in the Nature Portals Card Deck, looking at the photos and feeling yourself immersed in the natural world.
Read the uplifting messages and quotations on the back of the cards and follow some of the suggestions, most of which can be followed inside as well as outside. For example:
This cards shows a Great Egret balancing on a branch in the river. Excerpt from the flip side:
Turn to nature to find balance. The first step in regaining balance is realizing that you’re out of balance. Imitate the egret and stand on one foot. Did you wobble? Did you feel yourself adjusting your weight and posture to bring yourself back into balance….”I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”~John Burroughs
OUTSIDE: Make a Connection
Take the card deck with you as you step outside. Draw one card and follow the suggestion. And remember: nature is not just wilderness—the cards can be affectively used in a city park, backyard garden, or apartment balcony.
This card shows a young maple seed clinging to a branch. Excerpt from the flip side:
All things unfold in perfect timing. It takes time for the seed to become the tree, but nature is in no hurry. Look around and notice the different stages of develpemtn in nature…Take a moment to appreciate the perfection of each stage. “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” ~Lao Tzu.