Love Your Park Too

Crater Lake

The National Park Service has a program called Find Your Park that encourages people to find and enjoy their National Parks.  National Geographic Society thinks people, particularly fourth graders, should also love their park.  To generate that love, the Society has developed an educational program called “Find Your Park, Love Your Park.”  The idea is to teach kinds about the National Parks and their importance and to encourage kids to protect and preserve their parks.

Find Your Park, Love Your Park Program

The program was developed to help teachers take their students on an adventure to understand the importance of parks in the United States and inspire their curiosity to experience these places for themselves. The activities are designed to be used alone or as a series, and can be scaled beyond grades 3-5.  There are five downloadable activity modules including:

  • squirrelExplore Natural Spaces.  The class visits an outdoor space, like the school yard, once a day for five days.  Each day they explore a different idea then consider how to protect or enhance the natural space they have explored:
    • Map Your Space – basic orientation
    • Listen – discover the sounds of nature
    • Plant Life – discover and record information about plants
    • Vertebrates – discover and record the animals or signs of animals they can find
    • Invertebrates – discover and record information about insects and other invertebrates they can find.
  • Create a Park Atlas.  The class learns about National, State and local parks then works with National Geographic MapMaker Interactive to begin to understand various concepts of cartography including map scale and map symbols.
  • Design a Park.  Students identify the important characteristics of a park then design their own incorporating those characteristics.
  • People and Parks: Challenges and Solutions.  Students learn how people interact with their parks and the kinds of problems that can occur.  They then develop solutions to those problems.
  • Pledge to Protect a Favorite Park.  Students learn about pledges then create their own pledge to protect their favorite park.


Meshing with Other Initiatives

Every Kid in a ParkThe “Find Your Park, Love Your Park” program complements the National Park Service and National Park Foundation’s Find Your Park/Encuentra Tu Parque movement to celebrate and share inspirational stories from national parks nationwide. It also bolsters the White House “Every Kid in a Park” initiative which provides free entry into national parks for fourth-grade students.

This National Geographic effort is intended to engage fourth graders through the above activities that were designed by National Geographic’s education specialists and to help students appreciate the importance of protected spaces and consider their impact on them.

Broader Uses

While the activities were developed with fourth-graders in mind, they can also serve as a jumping-off point for younger or older students and for families to do together at home. For example, one of the activities is a mini field trip to observe the natural and man-made things they will see in a nearby place and begin mapping them. Parents and caregivers of young children can use these same basic concepts on nature walks — looking for animals and insects and tracking footprints — while older children can take some of the more complex elements of mapping and developing a plan to protect the area deeper.

Get it Free

The activity modules and interactive map are available for download at no cost and will be highlighted on National Geographic’s Education site throughout 2016.

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