Grassland Education Project
Ecosystems and habitats, including grasslands, are a standard part of science curricula. However, most curricula teach about grasslands in the Great Plains or the African Savannah. Many of us don’t realize that there are grasslands right here in New York City.
Freshkills Park, in Staten Island, NY, contains over 1,000 acres of grassland habitat, the largest grassland ecosystem in New York State. These grasslands are home to unique animals and plants, including Grasshopper Sparrows, Little Bluestem, and Red Foxes. This is the first curriculum geared towards K-12 students about grasslands in New York City.
This curriculum contains NGSS-aligned lessons geared for Kindergarten – 2nd grade, 3rd- 5th grade, and middle school students. This curriculum can be paired with an in-person or virtual field trip to Freshkills Park.
The units contain:
- A deep-dive into the ecology of grassland ecosystems in New York City
- Virtual exploration of the grassland using StoryMaps
- A STEM design challenge to balance the needs of humans and animals in urban grasslands
- Nature journaling to learn more about grassland flora and fauna
- Resources to support scientific vocabulary development
- Additional resources to take a deep dive into student interests
For a preview of the curriculum, check out these StoryMaps:
- What is a Grassland? (Grades 3-5)
- Meet the Grasshopper Sparrow (Grades 3-5)
- Grassland Ecosystems (Grades 6-8)
- Grassland Birds (Grades 6-8)
This project was generously supported by the Dorr Foundation and the Frances R. Dewing Foundation.
Thank you to the educators and artists who contributed to this project:
- Mary Lee and the 7th and 8th graders at St. Clare School
- JoEllen Schuleman and the 4th graders at PS 199
- Amber Carlin Mishkin and the 4th graders at Maurice Sendak Community School
- Jody Reiss
- Green Sparrow Arts
- Pre-service teachers at St. John’s University
Based on feedback from educators, we are working on new resources on New York City grasslands:
- The Lenape and Grasslands: Lessons and materials about Lenape use of grasslands in New York City, geared for 3rd-5th grade students
- Research & Data analysis in the grasslands: This new project aims to involve high school students in grassland research through onsite field research and access to grassland data for analysis