Children's Museum of South Dakota

Outdoor Prairie Play


Have Fun in Nature

Nature play and more hands-on exploration await visitors just beyond the museum doors! It's the highlight of the CMSD experience.

Guests won't want to miss this spacious outdoors area, designed to nurture a love of the natural world, cultivate creativity and imagination, develop a sense of belonging and show visitors just what makes the prairie so special.

In Nature Play, climb hills and logs. Weave through the Willow Tunnel. Cross the waters Streamside by walking on stones or wheeling through the stream. Build the Beaver Dam.  Create harmony in the Music Meadow. Wander through the field On the Prairie to explore the Prairie Maze. Or check out Dino Dig to dig up the bones of a dinosaur found right here in South Dakota. And don’t forget to connect nature and music in our Rock Music exhibit!

The benefits of playing in nature and the outdoors are tremendous. Children connect with the world around them by spending time outdoors touching the prairie grasses, splashing in water or gathering fallen leaves. These experiences encourage children to associate joy and aesthetic beauty with the outdoors. Making this connection early in life stimulates a responsibility for nature and their environment.


Learn more about nature and conservation through the books below. Many of these books are at the Brookings Public Library.


Earth Book, Todd Parr

Ages 3 - 5

The Extinct Alphabet Book, Jerry Pallotta & Ralph Masiello
Here Comes the Recycling Truck!,  Meyer Seltzer
I’m a Manatee, John Lithgow
Oil Spill!, Melvin Berger & Paul Mirocha
Jack, the Seal and the Sea, Gerald Aschenbrenner & Joanne Fink
The Messy Lot, Larry Dane Brimner & Christine Tripp
Trash Trouble, The Corner Kids, Larry Dane Brimner & Christine Tripp
What to Do About Pollution, Anne Shelby & Irene Trivas
Aliens from Earth, Mary Batten & Beverly Doyle

Ages 6 - 8

Where Does Garbage Go?, Isaac Asimov
Why Does Litter Cause Problems?, Isaac Asimov
How Green are You?, David Bellamy & Penny Dann
The Throwaway Generation, Jill Wheeler
Poisoned Water, In: Eye on Environment, J.M. Patten
Oil Spills, In: Eye on Environment,  J.M. Patten
Let’s Celebrate Earth Day, Connie Roop & Peter Roop
Common Ground, Molly Bang
Wetlands, In: First Reports, Shirley Gray
Trash Trouble, In: Rookie Choices, Larry Dane Brimner & Christine Tripp  
Clang, Boom, Bang, Jane Belk Moncure  
Polluted Air, In: Eye on Environment, J.M. Patton

Ages 9 - 12

Young Scientist:  Our World in Danger, World Book
Ecology, In: DK Eyewitness Books, Steve Pollock 
I Want to be an Environmentalist, Catharine O’Neill Grace
Water: How We Use and Abuse Our Planet, In: Earth Strikes Back, Pamela Grant & Arthur Haswell
Earthwise at Play, Linda Lowery & Marybeth Lorbiecki 
Earthwise at Home, Linda Lowery and Marybeth Lorbiecki
Garbage & Recycling, In: Young Discoverers Series, Sally Morgan & Rosie Harlow
Garbage & Recycling: Environment Alert!, Judith Woddburn
Soil and Water Conservation, In: Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge Series, In: Merit Badge Series ; no. 33291  Whitewater, In: Merit Badge Series no. 33405A
Worms Eat Our Garbage, Mary Appelhof & Mary Frances Fenton
Toxic Waste, Mary Ellen Snodgrass
The Toxic Waste Time Bomb, Judith Woodburn
The Greenhouse Effect: Life on a Warmer Planet, Rebecca Johnson
Land Pollution, In: Environmental Awareness, Mary Ellen Snodgrass
Climate Crisis, In: Saving Our World, Nigel Hawkes
One Good Apple: Growing Our Food for the Sake of the Earth, Catherine Paladino
Air and Energy, In: How We Use and Abuse Our Planet, Arthur Haswell
Energy, In: Science Works!, Steve Parker
Ecology, In: DK Eyewitness Books, Steve Pollock & Stephen Thomas
Compost Critters, Bianca Lavies  
Our Endangered Planet, Mary King Hoff & Mary M. Rodgers  
If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World’s People, David Smith & Shelagh Armstrong
Something Rotten, Alan Gratz  YA GRA
The Garden Ghat We Grew, In: Viking Easy-to-Read, Joan Holub & Hiroe
 A Pond in a Meadow, In: Life in--, Sally Morgan

*At the time of writing, these books were not found at the Brookings Library.