Missouri River Country is a vast, complex land containing many different kinds of plant and animal communities. Most of the area is covered by one kind of prairie or another. These are usually classified in a general way as shortgrass, tallgrass, and mixed-grass prairie. In moist draws and river bottoms you will find woodlands and wetlands. In the west are hills and mountainsides covered by pine forest.
All of these plant communities change over time, and the animals that use them may change as well, in a process called succession. Plant communities are tremendous storehouses of carbon compounds with high-energy chemical bonds, so other organisms-fungi, insects, mammals, birds, people-have developed ways to tap that resource. People rely on plants and plant consumers (animals) for food, clothing, housing, medicines, and many other needs, including nourishment of the spirit.
Thus fungi and animals reuse and recycle the carbon accumulated the plants, but fire is the most dramatic recycler in Missouri River Country.
This FireWorks activity asks students to use information in Story Time (Activity 7-3) and in Prairie, a Natural History (in the Missouri River Box) to create and present a play showing 100 years of change in the plant communities of Missouri River Country.