Prairie Tales from South Dakota

Prairie Tales - for parents and teachers

prairie-tale media and video

Download PTS bookmarks hereEach book in the Prairie Tale series contains an introduction full of historical information, a word list to help young readers with some of the harder vocabulary, and a short bibliography.  The bibliography will help interested teachers, parents, and children learn more about the Great Plains, the animals in the stories, and the authors who wrote the tales.

Over the next few months, short guides will be developed to help teachers use these books in their classrooms and to give parents something to stimulate discussion with their children about the books. Fun Prairie Tales bookmarks are also available to download and print-out.

To learn more about the history in each Prairie Tale, check out the information at

Here is the word list from The Discontented Gopher
abodes—houses; living spaces
ancestors—family members from the past
animate—bring to life
conceited—overly pleased with oneself
contentment—happiness; peace of mind
Indian Corn—maize; yellow corn
illumined—lighted up
knoll—a small hill
monotony—dull routine; boredom
persistent—staying at something; lasting
spasmodic—moving in short, quick jerks
summit—the highest point; top
taint—a trace of something bad
talisman—a charm
tenacity—stubbornness; ability to hold fast
traversed—traveled across
vainglory—too much pride

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Here is the word list from Dance in a Buffalo Skull
dismally—with sadness
disturbed—scared; startled
frolic—dance and play; have fun
horizon—where the land and sky meet
nigh—close by; near
pitchy—as dark as tar
prowling—moving around in search of something
unaccustomed—not usual
unconscious—not aware of
unheeded—not paid attention to
venison—deer meat

Here is the word list from The Prairie-Dog Prince

crave—wish for strongly
deed—something that is done
delve—to dig
flirted—threw quickly, or with a jerk
grieved—showed sadness
haunches—the top of the leg and backside
hillock—a small mound or hill
mourn—to show sorrow
ore—the rock in which minerals, precious metals, are found
pay dirt—lots of gold
prospecting—looking for gold
pry—pull apart
quarters—somewhere to live
ripen—age, be ready to pick
sneer—to look nastily at someone
solemn—very serious
stifling reek—bad smell
stingy—tight with money
stooped—bent down
toil—to work hard, or hard work
vein—a strip of metal in the earth
ye—old-fashioned word for “you”

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Here is the word list from The Raccoon and the Bee Tree

abroad—out of doors
bough—a large branch of a tree
crevice—a crack forming an opening
defiantly—boldly resistant
delicacy—a rare and special food
demure—shy; modest
feasting—eating lots of good food
frantic—desperate with pain and fear
haunches—the top of the leg and backside
hither and thither—here and there
loping—running in a long, loose, jumping manner
midst—in the middle of
range—arrange; take up a position
scarcely—hardly; not quite
scolding—being told off
snug—comfortable; cozy
thrust—shove; push hard
troublesome—causing trouble
unwary—not cautious or watchful


Here is the word list from The Enchanted Buffalo

assemblage—group; gathering
assertion—statement; claim
audacious—brave; daring; fearless
bade—ordered; directed
bade fair—seemed likely
compact—bargain; contract
consternation—fear; alarm; panic
convulsively—with great jerks or spasms
disenchant—undo the magic
fissures—narrow openings
fraught—full of; filled
homage—honor; respect
hosts—great numbers; armies
genius—spirit; guarding spirit
injunctions—orders; commands
interloper—someone without the right to be there
leagued with—united; joined
lithe—able to bend easily
molest—bother; annoy
patriarchs—male heads of families; male elders
peevish—cross; crabby
prosperous—rich; successful
prowess—skill; strength
reckoned—planned; counted
rents—slits; cracks
succulent—juicy; rich
tormentor—someone or something that causes pain
treacherously—intending to trick
usurp—take over

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