Did you know that many grasslands depend on periodic wildfires to maintain balance in the ecosystem? A grassland is a large, open region containing many grasses and other low-growing plants. The grassland biome is found on all continents except Antarctica.
In this blog post, we’ve collected resources for a unit study on grassland plants, animals, and ecology. Check out the ideas below!
A biome is a large geographical region that is characterized by its unique climate, plants, and animals. Rainforests, deserts, and temperate forests are all examples of biomes. Learning about different biomes can help us better understand the natural world and how it works. Biome studies also provide an opportunity to learn about the different species that inhabit our planet and how they interact with one another.
About the Grassland Biome
The climate of grasslands includes moderate temperatures, moderate rainfall, and a long growing season. This creates ideal conditions for the growth of grasses, which are the main form of plant life in grasslands (this is how the biome gets its name). Other grassland plants include wildflowers, shrubs, and small trees.
Grasslands can be found in many parts of the world, including temperate regions with moderate climates and tropical regions with hot, dry seasons.
- Temperate grasslands, also known as prairies, are located in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.
- Tropical grasslands, also known as savannas, are located in Africa, South America, and Australia.
Grasslands play an important role in the water cycle by helping to absorb rainwater and prevent soil erosion. The vast expanses of grasses in grasslands also provide a vital source of food and shelter for a variety of wildlife like prairie dogs, bison, antelopes, lions, giraffes, and many species of birds.
Unfortunately, grasslands are facing serious threats, including the following:
- conversion to agriculture
- urban development
- overgrazing by livestock, and
- the introduction of non-native species.
Conservation efforts are taking place all around the world to protect and preserve grasslands. These efforts include the restoration of native species and damaged habitats as well as education about ways to more sustainably use the land.
The Grassland Biome: Fun Facts for Kids
- Grasslands are home to some of the world’s largest migrations, like the annual wildebeest migration in the African savanna, where millions of wildebeest and other animals move from one grassland to another in search of food and water. This migration is so huge that the groups of wildebeest can be seen from space!
- In grasslands, fire is a natural part of the ecosystem and plays an important role in maintaining the health of the grasses and other plants.
- The prairies of North America were once home to millions of bison, which used to roam the grasslands in huge herds. Although bison nearly became extinct in the 1800s (some estimates say there may have been fewer than 1,000 bison left in the wild) conservation efforts in recent years have helped increase the bison population once again.
- The prairie dog is a small mammal that lives in grasslands and is an excellent digger. Prairie dogs dig underground burrows that can be as long as 30 feet! Prairie dogs are not related to dogs, but are instead small rodents more closely related to squirrels.
- The grassland biome is home to the roadrunner, a bird known for its speed. Roadrunners can run up to 20 miles per hour!
- Some grassland plants, like sunflowers, can grow as tall as a house.
- The African savanna is home to the fastest land animal in the world: the cheetah. In fact, this large cat can reach speeds of 60-70 miles per hour!
Books and Materials Featuring the Grassland Biome
- About Habitats: Grasslands nonfiction picture book by Carolyn Sill
- Life in a Grassland early reader nonfiction book by Laura Hamilton Waxman
- Over in the Grasslands: On an African Savanna a lively, rhyming counting book by Marianne Berkes and Jill Dubin
- Tropical Grassland and Temperate Grassland jigsaw puzzles from Alisons Montessori on Etsy
- Waseca Biomes: Of course, no discussion of biomes in the Montessorisphere would be complete without referencing the beautiful Waseca Biomes materials! Check out this list of free PDFs that you can download from their site. These are more general biome resources, but are very helpful!
The Grassland Biome: Curriculum Resources
- Grassland Education Project: Freshkills Park Many grassland lessons focus on the savanna or prairie, but this website shares information about 1000 acres of grassland found in a park in New York City. (Don’t be deterred by the suggested grades – there’s a lot here that could be useful and interesting for younger learners.)
- 360 Virtual Grassland Biome from Arizona State University would be exciting to explore with your class if you have a projector and screen in your room – an interactive, virtual grassland field trip!
The Grassland Biome: Printables
- Grassland Food Webs from EcoLink in Australia. The “food chain role play” cards could easily be adapted for “Who am I?” or for an “I have/who has?” game.
- Bison Nomenclature from Montessori Open Print on Etsy. Nearly hunted to extinction, bison are an important keystone species making a gradual comeback in the North American grasslands. This set shows 14 parts of a bison and includes blank copies to make a booklet.
- TpT: You can find a variety of curriculum printables about the grasslands and biomes in general on Teachers pay Teachers.
- Etsy: Find a range of biome and grassland printables by small creators.
Free Trillium Resource
- Be sure to grab the Animals of Africa 3-Part Cards free printable from the Trillium Resource Library . Although a few animals in this set are not grassland creatures, many of these animals can be found in grasslands – with a little research you could easily edit these down to make a smaller “African Grassland Animals” activity.
- This free Printable Cheetah Craft from LearnCreateLove features an apex grassland predator. This would make a fun diagramming project, set up on a tray as an individual activity.
- In the Tall, Tall Grass craft from Creative Family Fun. This goes along with the book by the same name (which is a lovely story full of onomatopoeia but not necessarily a grassland book) and would be easy to adapt with any grassland animals your students are learning about. Who is hiding in the tall grass?
Holly Earnest is a content writer on the Trillium team. After eight years in the classroom and another 2.5 as a center director, Holly transitioned from full-time campus life to focus on supporting Montessori educators and caring for family. She is AMS-credentialed at the primary level, and enjoys coaching Montessori guides, creating Montessori training materials, and presenting at Montessori conferences.