Lesson Plan


Students climbing a volcano
Students climbing a volcano
Ecology, History, Writing
4-5 hours
Group Size:
60 or more
National/State Standards:


Students enhance their learning experience at Craters by using a Student Journal while on their field trip. (FIELD TRIP ACTIVITY)


  • Students will be able to determine the amount of time their bus journey would have taken had they walked or ridden a horse or wagon.
  • Students will record their thoughts, art, observations, etc. in their personal field journal.
  • Students will record the places they visited while on their tour of Craters.
  • Students will draw a Craters ecosystem and label its living and non-living parts.


The Student Journal is intended to focus the students' learning while they explore Craters of the Moon. It will help to reinforce the knowledge they have already gained through their classroom study of Craters geology, cultural history, and ecology. Upon returning to the school, the teacher can instruct the students to refer to their Journal notes for further Craters exploration. The Student Journal is for the students to keep and may be the only tangible thing they have from their visit to the Monument.

From the Teacher's Guide to Craters of the Moon.


Student Journal

answers to Craters Bingo


Print out a copy of each page and make back
to back copies of the Student Journal on 8.5" X 11" paper, fold them in
half, and staple together.

Go over the Journal with the students page by page before
leaving on your field trip so the students will be prepared for the
small amount of "book work" they must do once they are at Craters.

Craters Travel Times
The students must get the odometer reading from
their bus driver at the beginning of the trip and when they arrive at
Craters to calculate the total days of travel the trip would take if
they had to walk, ride horseback, or ride in a wagon.

Craters Bingo
Encourage the kids to respond to each of the squares and get a "bingo blackout."
Answers to Craters Bingo.

Field Observations

Idea #1
From the North Crater Flow Trail have the students observe the
differences between the North Crater (a young cone) and Grassy Cone (an
old cone). From the trail, North Crater is close and to the south while
Grassy Cone is about a mile to the west.

Have students generate a list of differences between these two cones, for example:

North Crater Grassy Cone
Made of jagged, big rocks Made of smaller rocks
Jagged outline Smooth outline
Little vegetation Covered with plants
Taller Shorter

Then have them hypothesize why these two cones are different. If
necessary, tell them that one cone is 2,500 years old (North Crater)
while the other is 7,400 years old (Grassy Cone). Which is which and how
do they know? You could instruct students to record their observations
now and discuss it once you return to class.

The shape of Grassy Cone and the vegetation on its slopes indicate it has weathered longer and has had more time for soil to develop, or be deposited by the wind, and plants to colonize its slopes.

You might also have the students hypothesize why trees grow on just
one side of Grassy Cone. The forest grows only on the north side of
Grassy Cone because we live in the northern hemisphere and the sun is
always to the south of us. The cone casts a shadow northward, reducing
evaporation on the north slope, thereby making life possible for
water-loving trees.

Idea #2
Choose an area where students can safely leave the path to closely
observe plant life growing amongst the lava (e.g., caves area). Break
them into teams and have them randomly choose a plot of lava, about 100
square feet in area, in which some plants are growing. Ask them to make a
table as follows:

Plants growing from crevices and cracks Plants growing out of bare, flat lava



Beneath each column they would record the number of plants that are growing in the two categories.

Discussion and analysis could be saved for the classroom. What were
their findings? Did crevices and cracks support more plant live? If so,
how much more? Why would plants thrive better in crevices and cracks?
(water and soil is retained there better than on bare rock because there
is more shade and less wind).

Idea #3
During the course of the day have the students make specific
observations of their surroundings for an article they will write upon
returning to class. Encourage them to use all of their senses. What did
the area feel, sound, smell, and look like? How did their lunch taste
that day? Challenge the students to create metaphors and/or similes for
what they experience at Craters.

Instruct the students to keep a record of what they did and where
they went. What geological observations did they make? What did they
overhear other tourists saying about Craters? What birds and plants did
they see? These specific notes could be used to write an article on
their trip to Craters.

Ask students to circle those features and trails they visited to help
them gain map reading skills. You could challenge the students to know
where they are at all times.

Ecosystem Art
Students draw a simple illustration of a Craters ecosystem and label it
with its living and non-living parts. This activity will reinforce what
they have already learned in your classroom using the Craters'
curriculum. For example:
ecosystem diagram

Plant and Animal Checklist
Encourage the kids to check off plants and animals they see at Craters.
They can ask a ranger if they have questions on identification.

The Notes page can be used for whatever purpose you want. For example,
students could write haikus while sitting by themselves in Indian Tunnel
(haikus are three lined, unrhymed Japanese poems consisting of 5, 7,
and 5 syllables).

Alone with the birds
Their wings fill the air with joy
The same breeze cools us



Explain a grading policy for the students and/or tell them that their
success on future assignments hinges on their thoughtful responses in
their Journal.