• Spires of Cedar Mesa sandstone in Chesler Park (Needles District)

    Canyonlands

    National Park Utah

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Curriculum Materials

Canyonlands partners with Arches National Park in the Canyon Country Outdoor Education program. Lesson plans are designed for grades K-6 in a desert environment but could be adapted to other grades or ecosystems. Before heading out, read these tips on managing an outdoor classroom.

Browse Our Curriculum Materials

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Showing results 1-10 of 19

  • Colorado National Monument

    Roca, Roca, Roca

    In this bilingual (spanish & english) hands-on lesson plan students will learn about the three types of rocks and "make" each type.

  • 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

    Force, Motion, & Primitive Technologies

    Force, Motion, & Primitive Technologies

    Students explore different types of simple machines by examining ancient technologies. Students examine different types of levers using digging sticks and throwing atlatls. They discover how wheels and axles were used to make fire, and how rock wedges can become useful tools.

  • Arches National Park

    Desert Adaptations

    Desert Adaptations

    Students observe and compare different methods of seed dispersal. They learn about bat behavior and anatomy, and explore how a lizard's skin helps it survive. Lastly, they discover the link between the shape of a bird's beak and the food it can eat.

  • Arches National Park

    Life Cycles

    Life Cycles

    Students explore plant changes by performing a play depicting the life cycle of a wildflower through the seasons. They explore life cycles of frogs and toads, along the way discovering the difference between them. Students learn about insect metamorphosis, focusing on moths and butterflies, and discover the surprising world of insect galls.

  • 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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

Did You Know?

Biological Soil Crust

The dirt is alive! A living crust called "Biological Soil Crust" covers much of Canyonlands and the surrounding area. Composed of algae, lichens and bacteria, this crust provides a secure foundation for desert plants. Please stay on roads and trails to avoid trampling this important resource. More...