Life on the Outer Banks: An Educator's Guide to Core and Shackleford Banks

These activity guides are part of a series prepared by the Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center to help teachers prepare their students for a visit to Cape Lookout National Seashore. Integrated within the science and social studies activities of the guides are selected narratives to give the teacher background information on this unique region of North Carolina. In addition to pre-visit, on-site and post-visit activities, the guides contains poems and songs of the region as well as alternate activities to spark a student’s imagination and stimulate problem-solving skill development.


4th Grade Edition

Through this field trip, students will uncover the history of the the Cape Lookout Lighthouse and view the island from the eyes of a keeper. They can also take a hands-on look into the flora and fauna that have learned to survive in this harsh environment. This field trip guide includes science, math, and Social Studies activities.

NC Essential Standards: 4.L.1.1, 4.L.1.2, 4.L.1.4, 4.H.1.4, 4.H.2.1, 4.G.1.4
Common Core: 4.MD.A.2

5th Grade Edition

Using this guide, students will study mollusks as animals, as food, and as a form of currency. By studying mollusks both pre-visit and on-site, students will better understand these creatures have adapted to best fill their niche in the ecosystem they occupy. Students will study the economic impact of water quality on the seafood industry, following that impact from “the sea to the table.” Post-visit, students will calculate the value of the shells they collected on-site if they had been processed by Native-Americans to be used as wampum to learn about “supply and demand” and how those forces alter value in an economic system.

NC Essential Standards: 5.L.2.1, 5.L.2.2, 5.L.2.3, 5.H.1.1, 5.H.1.2, 5.C.1.1, 5.C.1.2, 5.MD.A.1, 5.MD.C.4

6th Grade Edition

From tiny mole crabs to giant whales, students will explore the wildlife of Cape Lookout National Seashore with first-hand research and interactive activities. They will learn how the people of the Outer Banks adapted to and used the wildlife in their environment. *On-site activity equipment available on request!

NC Essential Standards: 6.L.2.1, 6.L.2.3, 6.H.2.2, 6.H.2.3, 6.E.1.1, W.6.1a, W.6.1b

8th Grade Edition

After becoming familiar with common pond and salt marsh organisms in the classroom, students will use the number of those organisms in an on-site water sample as well as chemical indicators to assess the “health” level of a water source. Students will investigate the specific relationships between smooth Cordgrass, and ribbed mussels, and glasswort through salt marsh plant sampling to learn more about biodiversity. Students will read about the Surfmen of the Cape Lookout Life-Saving Station to compare and contrast the lives of these men to those serving in the U. S. Coast Guard today, to learn about the equipment and materials they used, and to determine is the qualify as “everyday heroes.” *On-site activity equipment available on request!

NC Essential Standards: 8.E.1.2, 8.E.1.3, 8.E.1.4, 8.H.3.2, 8.H.3.4, ELA-Literacy.RI.8.2, ELA-Literacy.W.8.2.b, ELA-Literacy.W.8.2.c

10th Grade Edition

Students will explore some of the organisms that are associated with the sounds and marshes of Cape Lookout National Seashore, investigating the specific relationships between smooth cordgrass, and ribbed mussels, and glasswort. Students will then complete a marsh transect and profile to better understand the distribution of marsh plants and animals. The characteristics and behaviors of the periwinkle snails, a common marsh animal, will be examined. After spending time studying the salt marsh, students will use their experiences to help them reflect on the writings of Rachel Carson. *On-site activity equipment available on request!

NC Essential Standards: Bio.2.1.3, CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.2

For more information on Life on the Outer Banks educational programs contact:

Education Coordinator
(252) 728-2250 ext. 8908
email us

Last updated: January 19, 2018

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131 Charles St
Harkers Island, NC 28531


(252) 728-2250

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