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.

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  • Five different park maps showing various NPS units with four closed and one open.

    This is a classroom based, free teacher led program. National Park Legacy Voyagers is designed for ninth through twelfth grade students so they can go on an exploration of National Park Sites and learn about National Parks. Lesson plans include reading, writing, community service, presenting activities. Activities focus on cultural and natural resources and reasons for national parks. Activities feature budgeting and planning activity.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Ninth Grade-Twelfth Grade
    Subjects:
    Biology: Animals, Biology: Plants, Earth Science, Geology, History, Oceans
    Keywords:
    National Parks, legacy, cultural resources, natural resources, heritage, climate change, careers, Wildland-Urban Interface
  • Animal Adaptations

    Students are introduced to animal adaptations as both activities and anatomy that help animals survive. On the field trip, students explore for beaver sign and dress-up one student to illustrate the amazing adaptations of this animal. Students pretend to be raptors, learning why the birds need sharp eyesight, and play a game that illustrates the adaptations of deer and mountain lions. Finally, they migrate as a gaggle of geese, and examine how much energy it takes to make the long journey.

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    Average: 5.0 (1 rating)

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Fourth Grade
    Subjects:
    Biology: Animals
    Keywords:
    adaptations, Beaver, Canada Geese, mule deer, eagles, wetlands, forests, desert, mountain lion, migration, birds of prey
  • Imaginary River Trip

    Students take an imaginary river trip -- right in their classrooms. Along the way they explore how humans, animals, and insects use the river to survive.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    First Grade
    Subjects:
    Recreation Ecology
    Keywords:
    river, rafting, water use
  • Desert sandstones and snow-capped mountains

    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.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Fifth Grade
    Subjects:
    Earth Science, Geology
    Keywords:
    erosion, weathering, earthquakes, uplift, arch formation, fossil, fault, deposition, geologic layers
  • student examines a snail

    Students examine the interaction of elements of the food chain - producers, consumers and decomposers - through dioramas and art projects in the classroom. In the field, a story and an active game reinforce predator-prey relationships. Students examine decomposers and their vital role in the nutrient cycle, then they investigate energy loss in the high desert food chain.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Third Grade
    Subjects:
    Ecology
    Keywords:
    interactions, food chain, nutrient cycle, predator, prey, ecosystems
  • 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.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Fifth Grade
    Subjects:
    Chemistry, Physical Science
    Keywords:
    air quality, ozone, particulates, reactions, physical changes in matter, chemical changes in matter
  • Students record the temperature of different surfaces.

    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.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Sixth Grade
    Subjects:
    Physical Science
    Keywords:
    Waves, reflection, refraction, conduction, Convection, absorption, radiation, UV light, birds
  • 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.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Fourth Grade
    Subjects:
    Hydrology
    Keywords:
    water cycle, precipitation, water pollution, wetlands, Evaporation, condensation, soil percolation, erosion
  • Desert bighorn ram

    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.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Sixth Grade
    Subjects:
    Biology: Animals, Ecology
    Keywords:
    virus, bacteria, Desert Bighorn Sheep, habitat, parasites
  • 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.

    Type:
    Lesson Plan
    Grade level:
    Third Grade
    Subjects:
    Physical Science
    Keywords:
    simple machines, gravity, friction, stone tools, fire making
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