Grasses and Grains – Background

Compared with lacy ferns, showy flowers, and towering trees, the grasses seem hardly worth noticing. Yet these modest plants flourish in harsh conditions, cover much of the land masses of the world, support huge populations of grazing animals, and produce prodigious amounts of seeds – the grains that feed our livestock and us. Grasses have fascinating and unique adaptations that make them extremely resilient and set them apart from other kinds of plants.

Grasses grow just about anywhere – in fields, wetlands, saltmarshes, mountaintops, deserts, and even in shady forests. There are ten thousand species worldwide, and – in prairies, savannahs, pampas, and steppes – they cover a quarter of the earth’s land. Grasses dominate in conditions that are challenging for most other plants. They thrive in open plains that are dry and windy, lacking in shade, exposed to rain and snow, blizzards, and tornados. They are also built to survive fire and grazing by hordes of animals, from swarms of insects to herds of elephants. Continue reading Grasses and Grains – Background

Grasses and Grains – Activities

FOCUS: Grasses are hardy plants that grow over much of the earth, flourishing in harsh conditions. They are able to withstand high winds, hold onto slippery slopes, and grow back after being mowed, burned or grazed. Grasses have fascinating and unique adaptations that make them extremely resilient and set them apart from other kinds of plants.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about grasses and grains.

Give each child a grass stem with flower/seed head, and ask what children notice and wonder about their plant.

Materials: grass stems, one per child; magnifying lenses.

Objective: To make observations about the structure of grasses and consider how these function for the plant.

Working in small groups, give each team a complete grass plant with roots, stems, leaves, and flower head. Ask each group to share one observation about their grass plant. Other groups compare to see if their grass plant has the same or similar feature(s). Continue reading Grasses and Grains – Activities

Grasses and Grains – Puppet Show

Stalking the Wild Grasses

Characters: Benjy Bear, Foxtail Grass, Crab Grass, Panic Grass

Props: hunt card; 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of flour on stiff piece of paper.

Benjy Bear  (holding up hunt card) Oh boy, I love these nature scavenger hunts, but sometimes they can be quite challenging! Hmm. It says, “Find a grass plant.” (Foxtail Grass appears) Oh, hello, are you a grass plant?

Foxtail Grass  You bet.

Bear  That was easy. Now let’s see. It says, “Look at the stem and find the nose.” The nose?! I don’t see any nose! Wait a minute, that’s silly! Plants don’t have noses! Even I know that! Continue reading Grasses and Grains – Puppet Show

Grasses and Grains – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Grasses and Grains – Standards