• Lush vegetation on the top of Spectacle Island's North drumlin dominates the foreground. Boston's skyline can be seen in the distance.  The park's logo with tag line minutes away, worlds apart empashises the stark contrast between the city and islands.

    Boston Harbor Islands

    National Recreation Area Massachusetts

History & Social Science

Classroom lessons are adaptable in length. Field expeditions require an entire school day.

Civic Action - Taking Action in Boston Harbor
Classroom lesson: Students discover the impact that humans have on their environment as they come to understand that although public neglect led to the pollution of Boston Harbor, the harbor cleanup was the result of citizen action.

Field expedition: Students become stewards for Boston Harbor Islands while enjoying their right to visit the park by participating in a service project, either a beach cleanup on Lovells Island, or invasive species removal on Spectacle Island.

» Taking Action in Boston Harbor (PPT - 8.57Mb)

Civil War History - Liberty or Treason: A Case Study of Josiah Gordon (Fort Warren, Georges Island)
Classroom lesson: (Grades 8-12) Students will learn about the Civil War history of Fort Warren and study the case history of Josiah H. Gordon, a Maryland politician imprisoned at the fort. Through Gordon's letters and other primary sources, students will learn about a prisoner's daily life at Fort Warren and examine the issue of violations of civil liberties during wartime.

Field expedition: Students visit Georges Island and explore Fort Warren through the eyes of Josiah Gordon while reading his biographical information on-site.

» Liberty or Treason Curriculum Packet (PDF - 350 kb)

Civil War History - Rebels Amongst the Ranks (Fort Warren, Georges Island)
Classroom lesson: (Grades 5-8) Students will prepare for and participate in an interactive tour and learning activity that uses primary sources to explore the Civil War experiences of a variety of individuals at Fort Warren. This curriculum unit focuses on Fort Warren's role in the Civil War as a harbor fortification, training camp for the Union Army and a Confederate prisoner of war camp.

Field expedition: Students visit Georges Island and explore Fort Warren identifying its design and construction for harbor defense. Students tour the fort and participate in a scavenger hunt where they will match the quote of a person (a primary source) or a legend to the place they visit.

» Rebels Amongst the Ranks Curriculum Packet (PDF - 350kb)

Maritime History - America's Oldest Light Station
Classroom lesson: Students are introduced to maritime history, coastal technology and the fascinating duties of lighthouse keepers as they learn about Boston Light, the oldest continuously manned light station in the country.

Field expedition: Students embark on a journey to Peddocks, Spectacle, Deer, or Little Brewster to investigate cultural connections as they experience one of these unique islands first-hand.

» America's Oldest Light Station: Boston Light (PDF - 89kb)
» Boston Light Worksheet (PDF - 19kb)

Native American Experiences - Living in Two Worlds
Students watch Living in Two Worlds, a discussion-oriented documentary combining contemporary narratives and historical accounts from five local Native American tribes, to learn how the first people to live around Boston Harbor formed cultural identities based on their relationship with the islands. Contact an Education Ranger to request the "Living in Two Worlds" DVD.

» Living in Two Worlds Teachers Guide (PDF - 57kb)
» Living in Two Worlds Worksheet (PDF - 21kb)

Settlement - Building Life by the Sea
Classroom lesson: Students revisit the days when codfish and shipwrecks were common in Boston Harbor by reading quotations that speak to the ways people have survived, formed communities and developed cultural identities on the islands.

Field expedition: Students embark on a journey to Peddocks, Spectacle, Deer, or Little Brewster to investigate cultural connections as they experience one of these unique islands first-hand.

» Building a Life on the Harbor Islands (PPT - 16.2Mb)
» Historical Quotations (PDF - 34kb)

Did You Know?

A Path at Worlds End

Worlds End was a proposed site for the United Nations Headquarters in 1945 and a nuclear power plant in 1965. Now part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, it includes 251 acres of undisturbed grasslands and over 4 miles of footpaths.