Lesson Plan

National Park Legacy - Explorers (Grade 3)

Five different park maps showing various NPS units with four closed and one open.
Park brochures provide us a window into the resources and assets parks protect.

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Grade Level:
Third Grade
Biology: Animals, Biology: Plants, Earth Science, Geology, History, Oceans
National Park Legacy Explorers can be completed in one hour or expanded into a week of activities.
Group Size:
Up to 60 (10-15 breakout groups)
National/State Standards:
California Benchmarks for social studies, geography, United States History and language arts.
National Parks, resource protection, plants, animals, history, geography, Change


This is a classroom based, free teacher led program. National Park Legacy Explorers is designed for third graders so they can go on an exploration of National Park Sites and learn about National Parks. Lesson plans include reading, writing, drawing and presenting activities. Activities focus on comparing and contrasting the types of environments found in National Parks including desert, lake, mountain, seashore and Arctic. 


Name one or more National Parks.

Name two or more activities people can do in National Parks.

Name one or more famous people that lived in a National Park.

Name two or more plants found in a National Park.

Name two or more animals found in a National Park.

Draw one or more items including plants, animals or buildings found in National Parks.

Name the regions of the United States.

Name the state in which their National Park is located.

Locate their National Park on a map.


National Park Legacy introduces the concepts of National Parks, geography and history to first and second graders. Students work together in groups and share what they learn with each other.


Lesson plans including teacher instructions, background information worksheets and park brochures.


1.     Set the stage - Read the National Parks Background information and discuss what a national park is. Tell your students that today we are going to learn about some different national parks and then we will find out about our own national park here in Los Angeles.

2.     Gather information- Divide students into three or four groups. Each group will work on one national park. Choose parks in the same state or are of the United States that have geographical contrast, i.e. mountain, desert, seashore. Us the worksheet to guide the students in finding information about their park. Provide stickers for the US National Park Map. (Students may need some help in locating their park on the map prior to giving the report.)


3.     Report- Groups come back together to present their reports under your direction. Ask students in each group to identify the name of their park and use a sticker to mark the location of the park on the US Map. Ask each group to report on the information they have discovered about their national park, using the questions from the worksheet as cues.

4.     Wrap up- Ask who would like to work at a national park? What would they do? Ask who has visited a national park? Would they want to visit the national park they reported on? Pass out copies of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area brochure and invite students to visit this national park here in Los Angeles with their families.


Teachers will be able to assess their students learning based on the detail and length of oral or picture responses.

Park Connections

This lesson plan describes components found in national parks.


Have the students create their own national park. Draw pictures, create their own park map, make a post card, send an email, etc.


National Park, gift, legacy, share, desert, mountain, lake, seashore, picture, activities, park ranger, battlefield.