Tennessee Elementary School


These programs challenge students with hands-on learning experiences that are correlated with Tennessee curriculum standards. Each program enhances classroom learning by using the park's cultural and natural resources as teaching tools. Students make real-world connections with science and history, while having fun at the same time! Watch a video overview.

All programs are free. To register for a program, call 865-436-1258 or email us. Please fax (865-436-1307) us your completed reservation form or attach it to your email to formalize your program request.

For a complete listing of all our Tennessee elementary grade programs, please download our program flyer. Program lesson plans containing pre and post-visit activities and on-site program descriptions are linked below.

Program Title Grade Location Season
Explore With Your Senses K Sugarlands, Cades Cove Spring/Fall
Wild Habitats 1 Sugarlands, Cades Cove Spring/Fall
History and Culture
Mountain Exploration
2 Porters Flat, Metcalf Bottoms, Cades Cove
Sugarlands, Metcalf Bottoms
Habitat Diversity 3 Metcalf Bottoms, Cosby Spring/Fall



Sugarlands, Cades Cove


Soil and Terrestrial Invertebrate Monitoring


Twin Creek Science and Education Center (near Gatlinburg, TN)


school students in a PaC program

Program Video: This video highlights the main activities and lessons for elementary grade levels, showcases the variety of educational offerings and provides a sense of program location. Each of the featured programs has a complete downloadable lesson plan on this site.

kindergarten tactile activity

Explore with Your Senses! (Kindergarten)
Students will use their senses to learn about his special protected national park. Students will learn about he history and wildlife of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Locations: 1/4 mile from Sugarlands Visitor Center, Cades Cove near the campground
Tennessee State Standards:
Embedded Inquiry Inqs 1, 2 ,3 ,4 , 5
Embedded Technology and Engineering GLE 0007.T/E/1 Interdependence GLE 0007.2.1
The Earth 0007.7.2
Matter GLE 0007.9.1

Lesson Plan (2.2 MB)

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1st grade at waterfall

Wild Habitats (First grade)
Students examine the characteristics of animal groups and identify their interdependence. A short nature walk allows students to investigate habitats where plants and animals live.
Locations: Sugarlands Visitor Center, Cades Cove picnic area
Tennessee State Standards:
Cells GLE 0107.1.1
Interdependence GLE 0107.2.1
Flow of Matter and Energy GLE 0107.3.1
Biodiversity and Change GLE 0107.5.1

Lesson Plan (2.1MB)

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2nd Graders use a Crosscut Saw


History and Culture (Second grade)
Students use a cross cut saw to recreate the experience of building a log home, learn how the forest was a supermarket and a drugstore and visit some structures that were part of the 1800's mountain community. Program includes a ranger-led walk where students look for clues of how humans used the environment.
Locations: Porters Flat (near Big Greenbrier), Elijah Oliver Home in Cades Cove, Metcalf Bottoms
Tennessee State Standards:
Culture Learning Expectations: 1.01, 1.02
Economics Learning Expectations 2.01
Geography Learning Expectations 3.02
History Learning Expectations 5.01, 5.02

Lesson Plan (3.8 MB)

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Mountain Exploration (Second grade)
The Great Smoky Mountains are made up of both rocks and soil. Rocks are the foundation of these mountains. On top of the rocks, the soil in the Smokies is the basis for life, from the smallest plants to the largest trre. In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to build their own mountain and learn about the different processes of weathering and erosion that break mountains down. Students will also take a hike to a waterfall to discover the properties of soil and determine the how it is formed.
Locations: Sugarlands Visitor Center
Tennessee State Standards:
Embedded Inquiry GLE 0207.Inq. (1,2,3)
Embedded Technology and Engineering GLE 0207.T/E.3
Earth and Space Science GLE 0207.7. (1,2,3)
Math: Measurement and Data GLE 2.MD.A. (1,2,3,4)

Mountain Exploration Lesson Plan

Soil properties activity

Habitat Diversity (Third grade)
Students will discover how specific animals compete and survive in a forest or stream habitat. Students will learn how complex a food chain can be in relation to surrounding environmental factors.
Locations: Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, Cosby Picnic area
Tennessee State Standards:
Embedded Inquiry GLE 0307.Inq.(1,2,4,5, 6)
Embedded Technology and Engineering GLE 0307.T/E.(1, 2, 3, 4)
Interdependence GLE 0307.2.1, 2
Flow of Matter and Energy GLE 0307.3.1
Biodiversity and Change GLE 0307.5.1, 2

Lesson Plan (2.5 MB)

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salamander survey


Adaptations (Fourth grade)
The secrets to survival can be discovered through the jaws of a bear skull, or the wings of an insect. Students will learn about physcial and behavioral adaptations through observing animal skulls and collecting invertebrates. Together they will create a story of their animals role in the environment and the characteristics that help them to survive.
Location: Sugarlands and Cades Cove
Tennessee State Standards:
Embedded Inquiry GLE 0407.Inq. 1,2,6
Interdependence GLE 0407.2.1, 0407.2.2
Flow of Matter and Energy GLE 0407.3.2
Heredity GLE 0407.5.2
Biodiversity and Change GLE 0407.5.1, 0407.5.2

Adaptations Lesson Plan

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soil science


Soil and Terrestrial Invertebrate Monitoring (Fifth Grade)
Students inventory the macroinvertebrates of the deciduous forest using scientific methods. In small teams, the class will analyze soil properties and recognize the interdependence of abiotic and biotic factors.
Location: Twin Creek Science and Education Center (near Gatlinburg)
Tennessee State Standards:
Embedded inquiry GLE 0507 Inq.1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Embedded Technology and Engineering GLE 0507.T/E.1, 2, 3, 4
Interdependence GLE 0507.2.1
Biodiversity and Change GLE 0507.5.1

Soil and Terrestrial Invertebrate Monitoring Lesson Plan (558 KB)

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Last updated: March 21, 2017

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107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738


(865) 436-1200

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