• Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

    Black Canyon Of The Gunnison

    National Park Colorado

Black Canyon Habitats

National Park Service Mission
...to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area Outreach Education is committed to:
Creating an awareness and fostering an appreciation for the mission of the National Park Service and the natural, cultural, and historic resources of Curecanti National Recreation Area and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

Curriculum enhancing activities designed to complement national and state content standards across a variety of disciplines.

Title: Black Canyon Habitats (Field Trip)

Grade level: First Grade

Time length: 2-4 hours, depending on number of students

Subject areas: Science, Reading and Writing, Visual Arts, Physical Education

Teacher: 2-4 NPS Education Specialists plus classroom teachers and chaperones (1 adult per 7students)

Colorado Content Standards: Science: (1) Students understand the processes of scientific investigation and design, conduct, communicate about, and evaluate such investigations. (3.1) Students know and understand the characteristics of living things, the diversity of life, and how living things interact with each other and with their environment. (5) Students know and understand interrelationships among science, technology, and human activity and how they can affect the world. Reading and Writing: (1) Students read and understand a variety of materials. (2) Students write and speak for a variety of purposes and audiences. Visual Arts: (2) Students know and apply elements of art, principles of design, and sensory and expressive features of visual arts.Physical Education: (1) Students demonstrate competent skills in variety of physical activities and sports.

Theme: Black Canyon is home to many kinds of plants and animals. Sometimes we see them, sometimes we don’t. Each plant and animal is important and helps others survive.

NPS focus: Public Law 39-535 (Organic Act),
Public Law 95-250 (Redwood National Park Expansion Act),
Vail Agenda Education Committee Report (Strategic Goal #2; Action Plan 16)and (Strategic Goal #3; Action Plan 52,62), Curecanti and Black Canyon Themes: Natural Resources/Wildlife

Environmental concepts: Everything is connected to everything else (interrelationships).
Everything must fit how and where it lives (adaptations).

Materials: video; Who Goes There animal clues (bird nest, track, scat, feather, etc.); National Park Service ranger booklet; paper and pencils; clipboards; toilet paper rolls (1 per student); markers; double-sided tape; ranger clothes and hat x 2 (one set for child, one set for ranger);

Knowledge level: Students will be able to list the different components of a habitat. Students will be able to name three animals that live at the Black Canyon. Students will be able to describe how plants are used by people and by animals. Students will be able to tell their families and friends about national park rangers and list three of their jobs.
Comprehension level: Students will be able to point out various components of the habitat for specific animals at the Black Canyon.

Rangers will meet the school bus at the South Rim visitor center. Ranger should board the bus (or if it’s not too busy, have the kids get off the bus and gather together inside or outside) and provide an enthusiastic WELCOME to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Explain why this national park is very important (special canyon and rock formations, home to many plants and animals, wilderness area below the canyon rim). Touch on main rules, incorporating Leave No Trace (leave what you find-don’t pick plants or take anything home; put garbage in the cans; respect the animals, plants, and other visitors; no running, walk on trails unless told otherwise). Explain that we’ll divide into four groups, and each group will get to rotate through four “centers.” Briefly explain the activity that they’ll do at each center.

Center 1
Location: hike from South Rim Visitor Center (VC) on Oak Flat trail toward the rock outcropping and back to VC
Leader: 1-2 Rangers
Activity: Habitat Hike During this activity, the students will follow a ranger on a scavenger hunt hike focusing on local animals and their habitats. At the beginning, the ranger will show “clues” that animals have left behind, such as feathers, fur, scat, bones, antlers, etc. Students can use their powers of investigation to determine which animal left each clue behind. Briefly discuss the components of a habitat. Each student will receive a worksheet and a crayon. The worksheet is divided into four sections, each devoted to one animal: bird, fox, insect, and squirrel. Students will follow the ranger along the trail, looking for objects that these animals need to survive (food, water, shelter, space). Look for clues the animals have left behind, as well. If you find one of the objects, show the ranger. Then circle it on your paper. If you find all the things an animal needs to survive, then that animal probably lives here! If there is time remaining at the end of this activity, students can color their pictures at the visitor center.

Center 2
Location: back porch of VC
Leader: 1 Ranger
Activity: Ranger Rules The job of a National Park Service Ranger will be highlighted in various ways at this station. First, gather the students in a circle on the back porch of the visitor center. Ask them what they imagine a National Park Service Ranger does. Some probable answers will be: take care of the animals; protect the plants; help visitors; fight forest fires; etc. Engage the students in dialogue for a few moments, and then read aloud the Park Ranger coloring book, which describes the duties of a park ranger. Provide paper, pencils, and crayons to the students, and encourage them to write a story (a few sentences) about themselves as a ranger, or draw themselves doing the job of a ranger. Choose two volunteers to dress up as a ranger, as fast as they can. The winner competes against the ranger in a timed race (clothing items=vest, shirt, pants, boots, hat, windbreaker, etc.). If there’s time, lead a short walk down to the Gunnison Point overlook, having each student pretend that they’re a park ranger.

LUNCH BREAK – all students travel via school bus to Warner Point picnic area and eat lunch (30 minutes). Provide time for students to release some of their energy by doing a guided game that involves lots of movement and silliness. Afterwards, all students and teachers return to VC.

Center 3
Location: other side of VC parking lot, Rim Rock Trail (or switch locations with station 2)
Leader: 1 Ranger
Activity: Plant Scopes
The ranger will lead a short discussion about plants, encouraging students to name some different types of plants (trees, bushes, flowers, mosses, show examples or pictures of each). Ask students why plants are useful, and let them discuss this question for a couple of minutes. (Take notice if they mention human uses or animal uses.) Ranger will hold up various objects for the students to see (pg 36 PLT) like a small branch, pencil, wooden toy, paper, etc. and ask where each one comes from (trees!). Talk a little bit more about how humans use trees and other plants. Ask the students if they think that animals use plants, too. Discuss the uses/benefits of plants that the students mention, and show pictures of animals using plants-beaver dam, beaver chewing branch, butterfly on flower, deer scraping antlers, bird nest in tree, bird or squirrel in hollow tree/log, etc. After the discussion, have the students make a tree telescope (pg. 71 PLT) using a toilet paper roll and decorating it with markers, double sided tape, leaves, twigs, and their creativity. Next, have the students kneel down in their own space and use their scopes to look for examples of animals using plants (insect galls, chewed leaf, scat, etc.) Gather briefly and allow a time for students to share their discoveries (either through words or by showing the actual discovery). Ranger should conclude by emphasizing the importance of plants for both people and animals, and that plants and animals are interdependent. Flowers depend on insects for pollination, trees depend on animals to eat their seeds and deposit them elsewhere, animals rely on plants as a source of food, etc.

Center 4
Location: South Rim VC
Leader: VC personnel or a classroom teacher
Activity: In the VC theater, show an educational video which ties together wildlife, plants, and habitats. Leader should have each student sit in a chair, keep their hands to themselves, and quietly watch the movie. Introduce the movie briefly and encourage the students to pay attention to the ways that the plants and animals interact. After the movie, have the students remain seated and ask some review questions to determine what the students learned. Have the students line up and quietly exit the VC, or if there’s time, students may be allowed to look at the exhibits (must be supervised). Movie possibilities: prairie dog movie, CO endangered species, etc.

Ask several review questions after completion of each station.

See section III.

Students should be encouraged to use their plant scopes at home to search for plant/animal interactions. They can look for wildlife and habitats around their home, and make a list of each animal they see and what they think it needs to survive.

Gather all the students on the bus, divide bus into 2 teams and ask several review questions. Show students the Jr. Ranger booklet and badge and tell them that they can earn their badge if they return another day and fill out the booklet. Thank the students for visiting the Black Canyon and tell them that we hope they will bring their families to visit someday soon. Give a program evaluation to the teacher.

Indicate what you judge to have been the strengths of the lesson, what changes you made during the lesson and what changes you would make if you were to teach the unit again.

Not appropriate.

Not applicable.

Did You Know?

Inner Canyon

The temperature at the bottom of Black Canyon is approximately 8 degrees warmer than at the rim.