A Magical Village: A Virtual Cliff Palace Experience

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8 minutes, 4 seconds

Pueblo people at Cliff Palace were part of a community - they lived and worked together to get things done. Join Ranger Jill on a journey into the past and learn how the Ancestral Pueblo people built and lived in this impressive ancient cliff dwelling.

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The Magic of Community

Program Introduction

Mesa Verde National Park was created to protect and preserve the buildings and cultural remnants of the Ancestral Pueblo people. While watching the video, "A Magical Village," students will travel back in time with a ranger to learn how the community members of Cliff Palace lived and worked together. By comparing activities in present-day communities to those of communities in the past, students discover that people work together to achieve common goals.

Grade Level

3rd to 5th grade

Essential Question

How do communities work together to ensure that everyone has what they need?

Program Objectives

Students will:

  1. Learn that Mesa Verde National Park protects the landscapes and material culture of Ancestral Pueblo people who lived here between 600 and 1300 CE.
  2. Discover how Cliff Palace and other buildings in Mesa Verde were built for homes, storage areas, community activities and religious observances.
  3. Explore how the people in the Cliff Palace community met their everyday needs: What resources did they need, and how did they get them?
  4. Compare the community activities and tasks of Pueblo people in Mesa Verde with those of students’ own communities today.
  5. (Grade 5) Discuss what things work well in communities and what things might need improvement; identify problems and develop solutions to common community issues.

Colorado State Standards

This program has been designed to meet the following Standards:

Vocabulary & Concepts

Community, Mesa Verde National Park, mesa, alcove, Pueblo, ancestor, sandstone, kiva, plaster, mano, metate, stone tools, pottery, baskets, weaving, archaeology.

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The Lesson Plan (Teacher Led)

Time: 1 hour

Location: Classroom

Program Prep: Please read through the entire lesson plan, including the real-time ranger program and post-program sections, to gain a full understanding of the programs scope. Have the preprogram video “A Magical Village” ready to play and copies of the exploration guide printed (one sheet per group).

Program Outline

► Discuss the concept of Community with your students. Some questions to consider:

  • What makes someone part of a community?
  • What communities do you belong to? (town, school, church, etc.)
  • Who are some of the other members of your community?
  • How do you interact with others in your community?
  • Why do we have communities?

► Watch with the class: “A Magical Village” (see link above). Before viewing the video, give the students these four questions to answer as they watch:

  1. What needed to happen in the village?
  2. What three materials were used?
  3. How would people other than the builders help with the project?
  4. What food was being prepared for the meal?

► After viewing the video, assign or have students choose topics which they will study in depth (students can work individually or in groups). Topics might include: buildings and their builders, pottery, farming, hunting, weaving and basketry, stone tools, etc. (OR simplified topics: food, tools, containers).

Additional Resources:

Last updated: March 30, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 8
Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330



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