Exploring Biomes - Grasslands

Our first biome, or ecosystem, we studied in science co-op was grasslands.  Might I add it was fascinating?  I learned, er, I mean, taught the children so much!  {I learned grass grows on one-fourth of all the land. It is extremely hardy, able to survive flood, fire, and below freezing temperatures, and it can grow to be over ten feet tall.}

The class began by making their own "Paper Prairies" following the directions in Animal Habitats! (pp. 90-91). Afterward, these were set aside to dry so each child could take them home that day.

{my kindergartner's paper prairie}

Next information from Properties of Ecosystems, lesson 8, was given.  I condensed the information and simplified the presentation for the Kindergarten through third graders.  The lecture included:
  • grass types and sizes
  • different flowers growing in the grasslands
  • wet and dry seasons, including 10-30" rainfall per year statistic
  • how grass and trees cope with droughts
  • grazing animals with a review of the food chain we learned last time 
  • migrating animals
  • burrowing animals, including the benefits of burrows
  • carnivores

{grass samples examined during class}

Wanting to help the children understand that grasslands grow in different places of earth, I copied a world map from Uncle Josh's Outline Maps Book and added a map key with pampas, steppe, prairie, and savannah.  Then, I drew lines to show where these grasslands are located.  The children had to color the map key and corresponding area as I relayed the regional information from the lesson in Properties of Ecosystems.

{Grasslands of the World map activity}

A habitat summary sheet, I created, finished our seat work and offered a summary of what was learned in class.  The worksheet is a simple grid with three large rectangles.  The first is used to describe or draw the habitat.  The second is to draw or describe the plants, or flora, in the habitat, and the last is for the animals, or fauna, which lives in the habitat.

Once they finished these summary sheets, we moved to a carpeted area and read Milia's Big Day.  A book which intertwines both a fictionalized story about a zebra and fascinating facts about real zebras was a perfect way to conclude the class.

Properties of Ecosystems, by Debbie & Richard Lawrence, lesson 8
Grassland Wildlife, by Kamini Khanduri
Temperate Grasslands, by Ben Hoare
Gazelles, by Lynette Robbins
Milia's Big Day, by Thea Feldman
Grasslands Classification Cards

As with most co-op classes I plan, we ran out of time and did not complete everything. 
We skipped:

Of course, since I am the K-3rd grade science co-op teacher, my child got to do a few extras at home, including watching the entire video and listening to The Buffalo are Back, by Jean Craighead George, which happened to coincide with his Travel the World studies.  {A nice bonus!}


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