Lesson Plan

Secrets of the Past

Student painting of Badlands geologic layers
Student painting of Badlands geologic layers

National Park Service

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Grade Level:
Kindergarten-Eighth Grade
Climate Change, Earth Science, Geology, Paleontology
6 to 45 minutes
National/State Standards:
National Science Standards: K-4: Earth and Space Science: Content Standard D;5-8: Earth and Space Science: Content Standard D

South Dakota Science Standards: K.E.1.1; 1.E.1.2; 2.E.1.2; 3.L.3.4; 4.L.2.1; 5.L.3.1; 6.E.1.3; 7.L.3.1; 8.E.1.5


Watch a six minute ranger video on the geology of Badlands National Park and complete one of the suggested in classroom activities (grades K-8).


Students will be able to describe how the Badlands rock layers were deposited over time by ancient environments.

Students will match ancient environments and fossilized animals to the corrolating rock layer/time period in Earth's history.

Students will be able to describe how the modern processes of weathering and erosion shape the Badlands.


Students watch a six minute ranger video about the Badlands. Next, K-2 students complete a fossil coloring sheet. Grade 3-5 students create a "flip-book" by arranging the Badlands rock layer pages, ancient depositional environments, and fossilized animals in chronological order. Grade 6-8 students take notes and complete research projects. All students, grades K-8, will gain an understanding and appreciation of Badlands Earth history by completing this lesson.


Badlands in Your Classroom Secrets of the Past Video (6 minutes) available for download at 84 MB, 44 MB, or 22 MB
Printable Student Pages (choose your grade level)
Glue Sticks
Colored Pencils

Park Connections

Schedule a distance learning video conference to learn more about Badlands geology and fossils.

Additional Resources

These resources are available through Badlands National History Association (BNHA), a not-for-profit organization established to support education efforts at Badlands National Park.

  • Fossils Tell of Long Ago by Aliki
  • Geologic Time & the History of Life: Illustrated by Animals & Plants Poster
  • Badlands: It's Life and Landscape by Joy Keve Hauk
  • Badlands Suite: Land of Stone and Light, From Field to Lab, Multiple Perspectives DVD

Last updated: April 10, 2015