Lesson Plan

Who, what, and why is a National Park?

The view from the Freedom Hills Overlook on the Natchez Trace, Milepost 316.6
NPS Photo
Grade Level:
Third Grade-Fifth Grade
Social Studies
2 45 minute class periods or more
Group Size:
Up to 36
National/State Standards:
MS Objectives:
3rd Grade: 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, 1e, 1f, 2d, 2f, 2g, 3a, 3d
4th Grade: 2c, 2d, 3a, 3b, 3f
5th Grade: 2c, 3f, 3h, 4b, 5c
research, National Parks, natchez trace parkway, reporting, government, community engagement, communities, social responsibility


Students will research a National Park online or from printed materials and answer relevant questions on a worksheet. They will develop an advertisement for the park they researched. The Natchez Trace Parkway and the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail should both be assigned.  The students will use the information to develop an advertisement in the form of a poster, a song, a skit (a commercial or some other creative form). Student groups will present their ads to the rest of the class.


Enduring Understandings:

Lower: Governments are organized to provide for services.

Upper: Certain institutions are basic to all societies, but characteristics of these institutions may varyfrom one society to another.The Natchez Trace Parkway is managed by the National Park Service.

Essential Question: Why do we have National Parks?

The student will:

1) learn about the concept of National Parks

2) learn why we have National Parks

3) learn the value of National Parks

4) learn the concept of preservation

5) learn that the Natchez Trace Parkway and the National Scenic Trails within the Natchez Trace are part of the National Park Service system.


The Natchez Trace Parkway is part of the National Park Service, "which purpose is 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." In "kid language" that means, "National Parks protect special places in our country so that people can enjoy them now and in the future."

Legislation to enable the Natchez Trace Parkway passed congress on May 18, 1938. Being part of the federal government, the Natchez Trace Parkway is "owned" by the people of the United States of America. The purpose of the Natchez Trace Parkway is to preserve and protect for the people of the United States of America, areas associated with an ancient Native American pathway which evolved to be a significant roadway in our country's early development.

See Teacher Information sheet for more information.


1.) Teacher Information

2.) Arrowhead Worksheet

3.) Arrowhead Worksheet Answer Sheet

4.) Advertisement Worksheet

5.) Access to computer and website www.nps.gov (Alternative 1: Teacher-download and print out information on various national parks. Alternative 2: Student-write a letter to assigned National Park and request information.)


Student Task: The students will choose and research a specific unit of the National Park Service. Each group will develop an advertisement for the park unit they were assigned. At least one student or group should be assigned the Natchez Trace Parkway and the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trails. When finished, they will present their ad to the class.

Option: Review how the Natchez Trace Parkway and the Natchez Trace Scenic Trails fit into the United States government (see Teacher Information section)

Option: Depending on skill levels the students could write 2-3 page reports on the National Park unit that they selected.

Student Instruction:

1.) Engage the students in a class discussion about the purpose of National Parks.

Discussion Questions:

1. Have you ever been to a National Park?

Answers will vary but be sure to explain that National Parks, state parks and local parks are all managed by separate governments. The Natchez Trace Parkway is a National Park Service unit.

2. Why do we have National Parks?

Answers should include: Recreation, learn about history, preserve what is important to our country.

3. What do they protect?

Answers should include: Historic and Natural areas that are important to the people of our country.

4. Can you tell me what is meant by the word preserve? (can assign student to look up word)

Answer: to keep something protected from anything that would cause its condition or quality to get worse. Our National Parks preserve natural and historic areas that are special.

5. Can you tell me what is meant by the word heritage? (can assign student to look up word)

Answer: something that is passed down from one generation to the next. Our National Parks preserve our country's heritage.

6. Whose treasure is it that the parks protect?

Answers should include: The people of the United States (or the world)

7. How would you define "national park"?

Answers should include: A place our government protects for everyone to enjoy.

Option: Show the students the National Park Service arrowhead and explain what each element represents (see Teacher Information Sheet)

Option: Show the students how the Natchez Trace Parkway fits into the structure of the federal government. (see Teacher Information Sheet)

2.) Divide the students into small groups.

3.) Each small group will choose or be assigned one of 392 national park units to research. The teacher will hand out the information about each National Park (or the students will have previously written letters requesting information).

4.) The students will fill out the advertisement worksheet with information about their park. The students will develop an advertisement that applauds the special attributes of "their park".

Advertisements could be in the form of: Poster, brochure, song, skit (like a commercial) or any other media type presentation.

Teacher Closure: Have the student groups share their advertisement with the remainder of the class. Have the entire class take the Arrowhead Knowledge quiz.


Participation in the activity, completeness of their report.

Park Connections

Explains the National Park Service and how the Natchez Trace Parkway is managed by the service.


1.) Have the students make a virtual visit to http://www.nps.gov/akso/ParkWise/Students/StudentResources.htm .

2.) Show portions of PBS series; Ken Burns's "The National Parks: America's Best Idea".

3.) Have students think about a special place they may treasure. Have students create a national park out of their special place. Why is it special to them? What are they protecting? They may want to draw a map or picture, or create a collage of their Special Place National Park and give a tour of their park.


National Park Service , preservation, heritage