"It appears as though the stars from heaven have fallen on the earth."
Before the European settlers arrived, there were huge prairies stretching for miles across the North American continent. Only remnants—about 1 percent to 2 percent—of this environmental habitat remain. This has prompted restoration projects by government agencies, foundations, and nonprofit organizations in several states. Preserves have been established by sowing native seeds and employing controlled burning, a necessary element for keeping the prairie healthy. In addition, naturalists are conserving old cemetery grounds where indigenous plants have not been disturbed.
Teachers and students can learn about prairies through virtual field trips or by visiting a nature center nearby. Back in the classroom, students can use this knowledge to design and plant their own prairies as part of the school landscape. Then, watch as the grasses grow, the flowers bloom, and the critters flourish.
American Field Guide: Prairies
Watch more than 25 video clips about prairie habitats, restoration, and fire management at this PBS Web site. Incorporate these clips into your lessons or use The Formation and Value of Temperate Grasslands provided by PBS. Students will be fascinated with the wealth of information.
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