Visiting one or two national parks a year is considered a huge feat. But for Jonathan Irish and Stefanie Payne, that wasn’t enough to satisfy their curiosity about America’s elaborate national parks system. They armed themselves with an assortment of Fujifilm X-series cameras and an Airstream trailer. The couple went on an epic journey they called “The Greatest American Road Trip.” ... < read more >
Which of the national parks described in the article would you most like to visit? Why?
Would you like to spend a year visiting all of America's national parks? Why or why not?
All of the national parks described in the article are remote and difficult to get to. How do you think these parks would change if they were more accessible to visitors?
According to the article, Jonathan Irish and Stefanie Payne are visiting all of America's national parks in a year. And they've discovered that the less-popular parks turned out to be some of their favorites. Why do you think that is?
Promote a National Park
- As a class, review the article for basic information on the six least-visited national parks in America. Discuss how the parks are alike. Challenge students to identify characteristics that make each one unique.
- Point out that one reason fewer people visit these parks is that the parks are remote. It takes time, money and effort to get there. But as the article points out, the parks are spectacular and have a lot to offer those who make the trek.
- As a class, in small groups or with a partner, have students conduct research to learn about one or more of these national parks. What is the landscape like? What plants and animals live there? How can visitors get there? When they do, what facilities (lodging, trails, etc.) are available for them to use
- Have students create an informational package about the national park they investigated. Encourage students to brainstorm ideas for a slogan that will tie the details together and entice more people to visit.
Invite students to present their work to the class. Instruct them to explain how their work connects to the overall slogan. Challenge them to explain how the information they presented will entice more people to visit the national park.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
As a class, select one national park from the article. Brainstorm ideas and select an overall slogan for the park. Then divide the class into small groups. Assign groups to investigate animals, plants, landscape, location, facilities or the logistics of reaching the park. Instruct each group to create a one-page entry with text and illustrations about their topic for the informational package about the national park.
Divide the class into six groups. Assign each group one national park from the article. Instruct students to investigate animals, plants, landscape, location, facilities and the logistics of reaching the park. Once they've gathered information, challenge groups to come up with a catchy slogan specific to their park. Then have them create a simple informational package with text and illustrations about their park. Remind students to tie everything back to the park's slogan.
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct each pair to select one national park from the article. Then give them time to investigate topics including animals, plants, landscape, location, facilities and the logistics of reaching the park. Once they've gathered information, challenge partners to come up with a catchy slogan specific to their park. Instruct partners to create a detailed informational package about their park. Formats for the packages may vary. Remind students to tie everything back to the park's slogan.
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct each pair to select one national park from the article. Then give them time to investigate topics including animals, plants, landscape, location, facilities and the logistics of reaching the park. Once they've gathered information, challenge partners to come up with a catchy slogan specific to their park. Instruct them to then create a detailed informational package about their park that connects to the slogan. Formats for the packages may vary. As a final challenge, instruct students to outline a strategy for how they will use their informational packages to increase the number of park visitors in the coming year.
VISUAL RESOURCES: SAVING WILDLIFE
The Greatest American Road TripIn celebration of the centennial of the U.S. National Park Service, Jonathan Irish and Stefanie Payne set out to visit all national parks in one year. Visit their site to see what they experienced along the way.
National Park Service Find a national park near you—or one very far away—and learn all about it on the National Park Service’s official site.
The Land Through a Lens This exhibition from the Smithsonian American Art Museum traces America’s fascination with the land and the way artists have transformed it into symbols and signature images. The exhibition showcases works by early and modern giants of photography such as Timothy O’Sullivan, Ansel Adams and William Christenberry.
You Can Thank Scientists for the National Park System Read this Smithsonian article to learn how early conservation research and scientific expeditions laid the groundwork and helped to convince the public national parks were a good idea.
The Hidden Worlds of National Parks Get a bird’s-eye-view of several national parks with these immersive 360-degree videos created by the National Park Service and Google. Hosted by park rangers, the videos take viewers places they might not otherwise get a chance to see.
National Parks Adventure 3D Invite students to watch this movie trailer for a brief, off-trail adventure into some of America’s most spectacular national parks. Download the Educator Guide to get the National Museum of Natural History's detailed lesson plan on national parks.
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