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McREL Standards Activity

Exploring our National Parks

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will be able to use maps to find key spatial information, locate U.S. National Parks, and characterize the geography of a specific region.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
 Standard 2.Knows the location of places, geographic features, and patterns of the environment
   Level III [Grade 6-8]
   Benchmark 3. Knows the relative location of, size of, and distances between places (e.g., major urban centers in the United States)
 Standard 4.Understands the physical and human characteristics of place
   Level III [Grade 6-8]
   Benchmark 2. Knows the physical characteristics of places (e.g., soils, land forms, vegetation, wildlife, climate, natural hazards)
Student Product:A brochure of their chosen National Park
Material & Resources:For this activity, students will need a variety of atlases and maps of the United States to locate their National Park and other spatial features. Note: Students should be encouraged to use the atlas as the primary source! Several websites are very useful for finding specific information about a National Park: and These sites provide links to individual parks, most include maps, weather information, and other key points. Basic travel guides are also very useful for this information. Fodor’s has a website that lists every National Park with links describing the flora, fauna, and geology of the park:
Teacher's Note:This activity can be used to conclude a unit on different climate regions and biomes, or can be used in conjunction with a history lesson on Theodore Roosevelt’s administration, the creation of the National Park Service, or the early conservation movement.
Working individually or in small groups, students will pretend they are in charge of a National Park’s tourism office. They have been asked to produce a brochure that describes everything someone would want to know about the park. Using the materials provided, students will include the following information on their brochure: A description of the Park’s location - what state it is in, where it is relative to the nearest major city (e.g., 120 miles north of Boston), or geographic feature (e.g., 10 miles west of the Continental Divide). The Park’s approximate size (e.g., the Park covers 10,000 acres, 60 square miles, the park is larger than the State of RI, etc.). A description of the Park’s physical features - major rivers, landforms, or mountains, etc. A description of the Park’s climate A description of the Park’s flora and fauna Students should be encouraged to highlight the Park’s unique environmental features and describe why conserving their particular Park is important (e.g., the Park provides habitat for endangered species, the Park is protecting a coastline from being developed).