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Defend Your National Park

Can more than 281 million visitors be wrong? Is the United States National Park Service “America’s best idea” as one person noted? And if so, then why are national parks threatened each year through budget cuts?

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Less money was given to the National Parks Service this year than last year. Can we afford to get rid of one of our 58 parks? Ask students to research what each park has to offer visitors.
    2. Students pick a park to research in depth. Find out how it became a park. Study the flora and fauna found in the park. Look at photographs of the park. Read about visitors’ experiences in the park.
    3. Students organize their research. Decide upon a visual expression to represent their argument. It could be the giant Sequoias of Yosemite, the geyser fields of Yellowstone, the pink flamingos of the Everglades or the twisted Yuccas of Joshua Tree.
    4. Students create a tri-a-rama to illustrate their perspective. Open a recycled file folder and cut it into a square with Crayola® Pointed Tip Scissors. Save the remaining piece of file folder for later use.
    5. Fold the square into a triangle and then fold it the other direction to make another triangle. Open the file folder and cut along any one of the new folds from the edge of the square into the center. Slide one of the cut sides under the other side to create the floor of the three-sided exhibit.
    6. Flatten out the tri-a-rama to draw the scene using Crayola® Color Sticks™ Colored Pencils. Use the edges of the Color Sticks™ to form lines and the tops and sides of the sticks for background color.
    7. To add dimension to the display cut out shapes from the floor of the tri-a-rama and bend up.
    8. Secure the two pieces of the tri-a-rama’s floor with Crayola® No-Run School Glue once you are happy with your illustration. Add collage or natural materials to the drawing for a more realistic feel to the display.
    9. Cut a small rectangle from the leftover piece of folder. Fold it in half lengthwise and write the park’s name on one side. Glue the other side to the bottom of the tri-a-rama.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts independently and proficiently.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built world.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Locate and distinguish among varying landforms and geographic features, such as mountains, plateaus, islands, and oceans.

    SS: Describe how people create places that reflect ideas, personality, culture, and wants and needs as they design homes, playgrounds, classrooms, and the like.

    SS: Consider existing uses and propose and evaluate alternative uses of resources and land in home, school, community, the region, and beyond.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Using a large window in the school building, students use Crayola Window Markets to create an outline of the continental United States and its states. Using an alternate marker color, identify the location of each of the parks included in the U.S. National Park Service.

    Students watch parts of Ken Burn's documentary "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" for an overview of the system, as well as insight into some of the challenges facing the parks.

    In teams of two, students review the list of United States National Parks, select one for in-depth research and organize an electronic presentation for classmates. As student groups make their one-park presentations, a team of two students extracts data on each park, creating a chart of park information for the class.

    As a class, students determine which aspects of the parks are most important to them and to the nation. Using the chart of park information, students rank each of the parks presented by teams. Analyze the data collected and determine which park, or parks, should be defended to the U.S. Congress for continued funding. As a class, compose an original letter to their U.S. Congressman encouraging continued financial support for park funding.

    Use the outline of the U.S. map to mark which parks students in the class have visited. Encourage students to bring in photographs taken on those trips. Post those photographs with the window U.S. map. A brief caption should accompany each photograph.

    Encourage students to investigate the life and presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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