Lesson Plan

Walnut Canyon Web Quest

Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwelling
NPS Photo
Grade Level:
Fifth Grade-Twelfth Grade
Archaeology, Biology: Animals, Biology: Plants, Computer Science, Ecology, Science and Technology, Writing
1 hour 45 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 24
computer lab
National/State Standards:
Common Core: SL.5.2; RST.6-12.3; RST.6-12.4, W.5.7; WHST.6-12.6. AZ State Science: S1C1, S1C3, S1C4, S1C2 PO1, S2C2 PO4. AZ State Social Studies: S1C2 P03a, S1C1, S1C1 PO4, S1C2, S4C2, S4C5.


This web-based activity will walk the students through a virtual tour of many of the key natural and cultural sites around the monument while helping the students learn about the processes and history that makes this area so unique. Students will conduct an internet based inquiry investigation focusing on understanding how the plants, animals, people and places have shaped this unique place.


Guiding Questions: How has Walnut Canyon shaped the way of life for people throughout its history?

Critical Content: Learn how the terrain and contour of Walnut Canyon has shaped how plants, animals, and humans have lived in the canyon over time.

Student Objectives: Students will …

  • conduct an internet based inquiry investigation focusing on understanding how life has been shaped by Walnut Canyon.
  • use critical thinking techniques to answer cultural and natural history questions.
  • explore a National Monument using virtual technology.


The web quest itself is broken up into 2 distinct investigations, one focused on looking at the people and places that formed Walnut Canyon's unique history, and the second focusing on the plants and animals that make this area home. Students will be given one of the 2 investigation sheets to complete at the computers, which will create the groups for part 2 of this lesson. For the second part of this lesson, students will group up based on which investigation they completed. In these groups, students will compare the answers they found, and then create a poster or whiteboard presentation that explains what they found in their investigation. These presentations can be as simple or detailed as the teacher would like to make them.



  • Sign up for a day to use the computer lab.
  • Photocopy the worksheets (2) for the web quest.
  • Decide if the groups will be presenting from a poster or whiteboard.
  • Gather presentation materials and supplies.
  • Webpage for Groups: access the webpage for each group worksheet here.


Part 1: Day 1

Step 1: Divide the class into 2 groups. Each student will receive a computer lab worksheet that associates with that group and its primary question.

Step 2: Go to the computer lab. Students should work on answering the questions on their worksheet either individually or in partners. This is dependent on how many computers are available and up to the teacher's preference.

Step 3: Students will complete the worksheet, and explore the websites to gain knowledge and ideas to present to the class. Each student should focus on gathering information that gives detail about their topic.

Part 2: Day 2

Step 4: Students will group up in the classroom according to the worksheet they completed. In these groups students will need to compare the answers they got to the rest of their groups'. If the class is large and two groups aren't small enough, the class can be broken into four groups, with each group focusing on one topic: People, Places, Animals, or Plants.

Step 5: Hand out either whiteboards or poster paper and drawing materials to each group.

Step 6: As a group, students will create a presentation that explains and details out the information associated with their groups' worksheet. Post these additional topics somewhere on the board for the students to include in their presentations as well.

1. Pick 2 specific questions your web quest and answer them.

2. How does your virtual tour of Walnut Canyon's Trail to Water support your understanding of your group's topic/focus?

3. Name one more interesting fact about Walnut Canyon that you learned during this investigation.

Step 7: Each group will present their findings to the class, and show their understanding of their primary topic. It is up to the teacher to decide how to grade these presentations, and how the students are made responsible for the information. It is recommended that students take notes.

Step 8: OPTIONAL but recommended. Take a field trip to Walnut Canyon National Monument!

Step 9: OPTIONAL. As a class watch the Ancient Trail to Water video.



Students will complete a worksheet in the computer lab, and a group presentation to share their answers.


Park Connections

It is suggested that classes visit Walnut Canyon National Monument and compare what they saw in the web quest to what they can see at the monument itself. Walnut Canyon National Monument is a great place to see how people adapted and used the land and naturally occurring elements around them to make life possible. Check out the Visitor Center and see some of the tools used by the Ancestral Puebloan people, hike the trails down to some of the cliff dwellings, or hike the Rim Trail to view various plant and animal species around the canyon.



  • Make a shoe box model of a cliff dwelling and life within Walnut Canyon.
  • Check out some of the virtual artifacts found on the Flagstaff Area National Monument's webpages.
  • Check out some readings about the Ancestral Puebloan people and their descendants.