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Variety of Species in Iowa Natural Prairie: Daryl Smith Prairie

The included image of the Daryl Smith Prairie includes many diverse plants including natural plants native to Iowa. The black-eyed Susan, pale purple coneflower, prairie coreopsis, and rattlesnake master are wildflowers and native plants that can be seen in the image. The Daryl Smith Prairie is a restored patch of prairie on UNI’s campus and the image shows the prairie in July. Students can observe the number of native plants in the image, compare the natural/restored prairie to the landscape they see all around them, and wonder about the types and kinds of plants in the image. 

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Possible Guiding, Compelling and/or Anchoring Questions

  • What different plants can be observed in the prairie?
  • Why are there so many different plants in a natural prairie?
  • How does the plant variety in a prairie compare to plant variety in a new habitat?

Classroom Suggestions

  • Students could:
    • List how many different flowers or plants can be seen in the image
    • Make a list of observations they see in the image. What do the plants look like? How do the plant species differ and how are they the same? Students can make their observations individually and then share them in groups to collaborate.
    • Compare the image of the Daryl Smith Prairie to another habitat type (desert, rainforest, cornfield, etc.), making note of the diversity of species in both habitats and how they are similar and different. 
    • Take the kids to a nearby restored prairie to be able to make first hand observations. 

Related Resources

  • Diversity of Life on Earth | Generation Genius: Lesson plan about biodiversity and the variety of species on the planet. This lesson can be used after the prairie phenomena introduction to a variety of species. This lesson goes beyond plants and also investigates diversity in animals within a habitat.  
  • Habitat in a Bucket | NSTA: An activity for students to explore outdoor habitat items. The included items could relate to those found in a natural Iowa prairie. The teacher could provide multiple habitat types in different buckets for the students to compare and analyze the diversity of species. 
  • What Is Biodiversity? | Generation Genius: Video explaining what biodiversity is, where it can be found and why it is necessary.

Iowa Core Alignment


Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats

Credit Info

Submitted by Gracie Elgersma, Bailey Gorgal, Abby Miller, and Olivia Terrones

Image by Laura Walter


Have you used this resource in your classroom? Do you have ideas for improvement? Share your ideas, experiences and feedback about this phenomena.

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