Tallgrass Prairie Center


Keepers of the Earth Lessons



The lessons below were adapted from Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac. Consider using these timeless activities for your classroom, browse the extensions and prairie connections in each lesson, or pass along to a colleague that may find these helpful in connecting students to nature!


From the Introduction

Tell children a story and they listen with their whole beings. Lead children to touch and understand a grasshopper, a rock, a flower, a ray of sunlight and you begin to establish connections between children and their surroundings. Keep the children at the center of their learning encounters. Build on these experiences with activities that help them to care for, and take care of, the Earth and other people -- to develop a conservation ethic.

This is a book about living, learning, and caring: a collection of carefully chosen North American Indian stories and hands-on activities that promote understanding and appreciation of, empathy for, and responsible action toward the Earth, including its people.



"The combination of Native American stories and related activities will spark children’s imagination and help them to explore their environment."

"Keepers of the Earth is a unique approach to guiding our youth to a sustainable future. School, club and camp youth leaders will find this book a treasure."

"Keepers of the Earth should be in every library. Social studies, science, environmental responsibility can be greatly enriched by using this book. The 25 legends from 20 different cultures selected by Abenaki Joseph Bruchac, and interpreted by easily understood scientific information and hands-on activities by Michael Caduto makes this a gold mine for teaching important concepts."




  • Wildflower Season (K-2nd): The teacher will narrate a ‘play’ of the seasonal life cycle of a wildflower while students act out various parts of the process


  • A Special Place (K-2nd): Visit with your class a natural place several times while using a variety of your senses and keeping some kind of record to showcase in the future.


  • Friend for all Seasons  (K-5th): Students will choose specific plants outdoors to be observed throughout the school year and record its seasonal changes.


  • Bee Busy (2nd-5th): Students will review the parts of a flower and the pollination process along with recording observations about flowers/insects outdoors.


  • Rock to Rock (4th-7th): Students listen to a rock story and imagine they are experiencing the rock cycle over a long period of time.


  • Taking Flight North by South (6th-8th): Students will study the flyways of bird migration and choose a local bird to research (routes, summer/winter grounds, seasonal locations)


  • Helping Species in Need (7th-12th): Researching the background of endangered or threatened species in your region, country, or world and present the findings.


  • Tree Peeps (7th-12th): Read & discuss a story of a conservation movement kick started by a 15-year old and discover possibilities for your class to participate in.


Educator Resources