Grassland, Meadow & Prairie Animals & Habitat

What student doesn't love learning about grassland and prairie animals, from the cute little American prairie dogs to the large wild animals that roam the vast African savanna. Teaching about grassland ecosystems (aka prairie, meadow, or savannah) can be a lot of fun. And the children's books below can help! But first, a little Grasslands 101, since the various terms used for grasslands can get confusing:

Grassland -- the general term for a landscape where environmental factors restrict the growth of woody plants, favoring grasses instead.

Prairie -- this term for grasslands is used mainly in the United States. It actually comes from a French word for a meadow grazed by cattle (which is the mascot of the prairies!)

Savanna -- this term for grassland is used mainly outside the United States. For example, the grasslands of Africa--the great savannas--are where the wild animals roam.

--  There are natural meadows and 'agricultural meadows' which are used for grazing. A meadow becomes a 'transitional meadow' when it is no longer grazed.

What we have so far (just starting this list...)

    click to see inside the book

Here Is the African Savanna
by Madeleine Dunphy and Tom Leonard

A beautifully illustrated look at the plants, animals, and food chain of the African savannah (grasslands).  Written as a cumulative tale (..."who eat the grass/that grows on the plain/ which turns green or brown/depending on rain"...) and accompanied by dazzling acrylic paintings.

Interest Level: K-Gr. 3              DRA Level: 24
Grade Level Equiv: 3.1           Guided Reading: M

  click to see inside the book

Butterfly Eyes & Other Secrets of the Meadow  by Joyce Sidman and Beth Krommes

As in Sidman's Song of the Water Boatman, poetry is used to explore the interactions of living things in an ecosystem. Butterfly Eyes explores the meadow ecology through a variety of different poetic types and striking scratch-board illustrations that are full of detail and provide additional information. A glossary at the end rounds out this "excellent choice for use across the curriculum." (Booklist)  If you liked Sidman's award-winning books Dark Emperor or Red Sings from the Treetops, check out this equally great book!

Interest Level: K-Gr.5           DRA Level: 40
Grade Level Equiv: 4.3       Guided Reading: R

An American Safari: Adventures on the North American Prairie  by Jim Brandenburg

A stunning photo-essay on North American prairie animals and their ecosystem, with special attention on the importance of conservation and the life of a wildlife photographer. A National Science Teachers Assoc Outstanding Science Children's Book.
Interest Level: Gr. 3-5          DRA: 60    Lexile: 1140L
Grade Level Equiv: 4.5       Guided Reading: W

One Small Square: African Savanna
by Donald Silver and Patricia Wynne

An engaging, intricately illustrated look at all the living things that a person would encounter in one small square ("the size of your living room") of the African grasslands. Includes related experiments/ activities and a field guide to the habitat. Learn more by clicking the title link above.

Interest Level: Gr. 3-5         Difficulty Level: age 4-8

A Walk in the Prairie
by Rebecca Johnson  (Biomes of North America series)

In conversational, accessible text and crisp, colorful photographs on every page, this title in the Biomes of North America series shows how prairie animals and plants depend on each other for survival. The "simple design and clearly written, informative text" (Horn Book) make it a great resource for teaching about the grassland/prairie environment.

Interest Level: Gr. 3-6      Difficulty Level: age 9-12

Obviously this is just a start on this list.  We're working on it.  If you know of a book we should add, please do share by contacting us.

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