9 oz Clear Cup
1 teaspoon Grass Seed
Station 1-4 Worksheets for each student
Grazing and Lawn Mowers Activity page per student
Students will learn about rangelands by participating in a hands-on activity of growing their own grass to represent a beef cattle or sheep ranch.
Part I: Interest Approach
1) Show your students the Cow Grazing picture. Ask your students if they see anything in the picture that looks tasty to eat.
2)Explain to the students that humans do not have an adequate digestive system to obtain sufficient nutrients from grasses and other similar plants. However, cattle and sheep thrive by grazing rangelands. In this lesson, students will learn how grazing can be managed to be a benefit to ranchers and to improve and maintain the health of the land.
Part II: Trail Blazing
1)Place the four station signs around the room with a stack of each station’s associated worksheet for students to complete as they rotate around each station.
2)Divide your class into four groups and assign each group to one of the station.
3)Each group will rotate around the stations taking a different “trail,” and on their way, they will start their own “ranch” with a small planting of grass.
4)Students will spend approximately 10 minutes at each station before they should rotate with their group to the next station.5)Once students have completed Stations 1-4, review the information that students learned at each station as a class.
Part II: Starting your own Ranch
1) Students will work to create their own ranch by growing a small plot of grass in a cup. Distribute the Grazing and Lawn Mowers Worksheet to students.
2) Provide each student with a peat pellet and a plastic cup to hold it.
3) Provide each student with a permanent marker, 2–3 teaspoons (10-15 g) of grass seed in a small bowl.
4) Ask students to place the peat pellet into the cup. Explain that you will be pouring a 1/2 cup (120 mL) of water into each person’s cup while each group reads their Background Information provided on the Grazing and Lawn Mowers Worksheet.
5) Instruct the students to begin working on the activity but to also observe their peat pellets. When they finish the worksheet activity, the water should be absorbed and the peat pellet completely hydrated. It takes about 15 minutes for the peat pellet to hydrate and expand into a pot in which seeds can be planted.
6) Have students complete the planting portion of the ranch, instructions can be found in their worksheet.
Part III: Grass and Grazing (After Grass has Germinated)
1) Once the seeds germinate, keep the peat pots moist, and allow the grass to grow until it has reached 2 – 3 inches (5-7 cm) in height. Students will be applying two different grazing treatments and will leave some of the grass untreated.
2) When the grass is 2 – 3 inches ( 5 – 7 cm) tall, ask the students to use scissors to cut half of the grass blades short—1 inch ( 2.5 cm)—above the soil to simulate a cow grazing.
3) They should clip another quarter of the grass down to the crown—where the blades meet the roots; this part of the blade is white in color. To simulate overgrazing, ask students to clip this quarter area to the crown every couple of days.
4) The last quarter section of the grass should remain unclipped.
5) Observe the grass for a few weeks, and then make comparisons. What are the results of the overgrazed, grazed, and ungrazed grasses? Ask students how their grazing experiment compares to mowing their grass.