Prairie Quick Facts Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan 1

Exploring the Prairie

exploring the prairie module icon

The following activities, suggestions and extensions may prove helpful as students use the Quick Facts page to extend their background information on the native prairie.


  1. ADD A FACT: Cut and paste the text of the Quick Facts page to a word processing document. As students learn more about the prairies through the activities, students may add facts to each section of the list.
  2. FACTS AND STATS: Because many of the "quick facts" include math facts, introduce the Quick Facts page by creating a math matching/estimation activity. For example, the following facts were copied from the Quick Facts page with the corresponding statistics listed below. Students should work in pairs, record their "estimate" and go to the Quick Facts page to compare their answer with the fact.Facts:
    Tallgrass prairie once covered _________Prairies once covered about ______ of the United States.Prairies formed about___________Iowa had the largest percentage of its area covered by tallgrass prairie - ________In Iowa, __________ of the historic natural landscape is gone.Stats:
    8,000 years ago
    142 million acres.
    99.9 percent
    30 million acres.
  3. THE REST OF THE STORY: Most of the quick facts introduce an area of study that students could research further. Encourage students to identify one of the facts for further research. For example, "Prairie chickens once flourished on the grasslands. As the grass disappeared, so did the prairie chicken. Today, only about 400,000 survive in the entire country, in 11 states." Have students brainstorm research questions and key words related to the prairie chicken. Included might be its physical characteristics, habitat, annual reproductive cycle, natural environment, predators, preservation efforts, etc.
  4. FUN FACT CONVERSION: Have students identify a fact from the Quick Facts page that includes a statistic. Ask students to report the fact using an equal but different unit of measure. This will require calculators! For example, the fact. "Prairies formed about 8,000 years ago" could be reported as:Prairies formed about 2,920,000 days ago.
    Prairies formed about 70,080,000 hours ago.
    Prairies formed about 800 decades ago.
    Prairies formed about 80 centuries ago.
    Prairies formed about 8 millennia ago.
  5. PRAIRIE FACT CLASSIFICATION: To help sharpen students' critical thinking skills, challenge them to identify an alternate way of classifying the facts on the Quick Facts page. The page has been organized around four general categories including basic facts about the prairie, prairie plants, prairie animals and prairie fire.For example, alternate classifications might include grouping together those facts related to ecology and conservation. Facts describing characteristics of plants or animals could be grouped together. Facts containing statistics could be grouped together. Those that have no statistics could be grouped together. Facts describing the prairie today could be classified together. Those describing a prairie environment that no longer exists could be grouped together.To assist in manipulating the text and classification of facts, students can copy and paste the Quick Facts page to a word processing document.
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