Prairie Activity: Plant Adaptations
Objective : Students will be able to identify and describe prairie plant parts that show adaptation to
habitat and environmental conditions.
Grade levels : Elementary and junior high
Time Required: 50 minutes
Museumlink Web sites:
Prairie Ecosystems, Plants, Adaptations: http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/prairie/htmls/
eco_adapt.html
Field Guide: http://www.museum.state.il.us/muslink/prairie/htmls/eco_fieldguide.html
Students will read the Adaptations section of the Prairie Web module, and read about plant adaptations
in their science text or other science materials in the curriculum. Using real plants and field guide
examples, the teacher will guide the students through descriptions of plant parts and how the parts are
adapted to the soil, water, and temperature conditions in which they grow.
Motivation: Class discussion of adaptations, using real plants if possible
Sample Discussion Questions:
What is the size, shape, surface texture, and location of the leaves? (soft, fleshy, dry, hard, thin, thick,
narrow, round, at the base, along the stems) How does this relate to water retention and survival in
drought or fire?
What type of flowers does the plant display? (many small blooms, clusters, large blossoms) Does the
stalk bloom from the bottom up or from the top down? Do the flowers attract insects? How?
What kind of stems does the plant have? (height, thickness, surface texture). How does this help the
plant survive and reproduce?
How are the seeds stored and dispersed in the plant? (if possible to see at this time of year) How does
this promote diversity?
Materials :
prairie plants (either in the field or in pots
field guide (online or print)
worksheet
pencil
Prairie Activity - Plant Adaptations- -page 1of 3