• South Window

    Arches

    National Park Utah

Curriculum Materials

These lessons are designed for grades one through six in a desert landscape, but many could be adapted to other grades and other ecosystems. Click here for tips on successfully managing an outdoor classroom.

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  • Canyonlands National Park

    Water Cycle

    Water Cycle

    Students hear a story and dance to a water cycle music video. While visiting a wetlands ecosystem they act out the process of erosion in different environments, and participate in a relay where they pretend to be agents of evaporation and precipitation. Students imagine they experience the water cycle first hand and write a poem about it. Afterwards, each student creates a regional drawing of the water cycle.

  • Arches National Park

    Physical & Chemical Changes in Matter

    Physical & Chemical Changes in Matter

    In class, students learn the difference between physical changes and chemical changes in matter, and then go for a hike to observe both in nature. They learn about particulate matter in the air, discuss what creates particulates, and discover how scientists measure them. They act out the chemical changes that are destroying ozone in the upper atmosphere and see how scientists measure ozone recovery. Back in class, students mix household items and predict the type of resulting reactions.

  • Arches National Park

    Physical Features of the Earth

    Physical Features of the Earth

    Students assemble jigsaw puzzles in the classroom informing them about the different types of rock and the rock cycle. At a field trip site, students examine a limestone layer to find fossils and make clay models to reenact movement along a local fault. They explore and model the formation of arches, and learn the names and deposition histories of the rock layers surrounding them. Back in the classroom, a mapping activity demonstrates what causes many earthquakes: plate tectonics.

  • Arches National Park

    Plant Adaptations

    Plant Adaptations

    Students explore genetics by comparing desert plant adaptations, riparian plant adaptations, and a few desert plants and animals adapted to nighttime activities. Their field activities include: rough observation and data collection, a clue trail, plant keys, a story, and a smelling game. In classroom activities, students take on the identity of a desert plant or animal, and later create an imaginary plant with adaptations for survival in its imaginary environment.

  • Arches National Park

    Microorganisms of the Desert

    Microorganisms of the Desert

    This outdoor lesson plan includes three hour-long investigations: discovering pothole dwellers, examining lichens, and investigating biological soil crusts. In the classroom, students examine photographs of common microorganisms and use microscopes to search for organisms in pothole water.

  • Arches National Park

    Bighorn Sheep

    Bighorn Sheep

    Students first play a board game describing the habits and hardships of desert bighorn sheep. Outside, students explore the tracks and track patterns of animals that live in bighorn sheep habitat, learn about plants bighorns eat, play a bighorn trivia game, and learn to identify the birds that share bighorn habitat. Back in the classroom, students put clues together to solve the mystery of how microorganisms could wipe out a herd of sheep.

  • Arches National Park

    Heat, Light, and Sound

    Heat, Light, and Sound

    In the classroom, students review the properties of waves. On the field trip, students investigate what objects absorb and retain the most heat, and then use sound waves to find local birds. They observe how lenses change light waves, discovering how common objects use lenses to bend light to meet our needs, and they investigate how sunscreen blocks UV waves. Back in the classroom, students discuss when our use of heat, light, or sound waves becomes overuse.

  • Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

    Digging Back in Time

    Students will participate in a virtual dig and use accompanying field notes and action photos to investigate their own online "hearth" site.

Did You Know?

Pinyon Pine

Pinyon trees do not produce pine nuts every year. These delicious nuts can only be harvested every three to seven years. This irregular schedule prevents animals from adapting to an abundance of pine nuts and guarantees that at least some nuts will become new trees instead of a quick meal.