NPS NPS TwHP Zumbrota Covered Bridge, Fire Island Light House, Mesa Verde, Charleston Market

Sampling of National Park Service
Cultural Resources Heritage Education Tools

The National Park Service (NPS) has developed educational programs and tools that use historic places and related collections as primary sources for teaching and learning:  history, the interconnections of human culture and nature, natural systems, the values of America’s diverse heritage, and the principles of democracy.  Information about these programs and tools is available on a variety of NPS web sites.

• The main National Park Service website at is the gateway to national parks, including the education programs they offer, and to other NPS programs. The website contains information on preserving America’s history and culture in parks and communities throughout the country and on and NPS tools for learning.

• A teacher searching for classroom materials, a student doing research, or a person looking for a place to spend some time, have fun, and learn can find out about curriculum-based programs and field trips at This portion of the NPS website contains an index and links to curriculum based programs and lesson plans for both national parks and also community sites listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

• At the NPS History and Culture website,, teachers and students can learn about America’s cultural resources as well as what NPS is doing and what they can do to assist in protecting historic places for ourselves and future generations.

 These three main websites lead to many other NPS websites especially useful at the K-12 levels, which are listed below:

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty, New York
Courtesy of the National Park Service Archives


Explore, Learn, and Participate in Archeology

History and Historic Places:
The American Revolution Lighting Freedom's Flare
Civil War Battle Summaries
The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System
Cultural Groups
Heritage Education Services
     - Teaching with Historic Places
     - Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itineraries
Historic American Buildings Survey/Engineering   Record/Landscape Survey
National Center for Preservation Technology and Training   Heritage Education Initiative, Heritage Education
National Heritage Areas
National Historic Landmarks
National Register of Historic Places
National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
Park History

National Park Service Museums and Collections
Museum Management Program



Explore, learn, and participate in archeology
What do you think of when you hear the word "archeology?" Does a swashbuckling Indiana Jones, searching for long-lost artifacts in remote and exotic corners of the world, come to mind? While this image is exciting, Mr. Jones falls far short of the real excitement that comes from discovering the diverse cultural heritage of the United States through sites and objects created by those who came before us. According to a Harris poll, Americans care deeply about archeology and want to know more. Because most Americans believe that public archeology is critical to understanding, protecting, and celebrating our rich and diverse cultural heritage, the National Park Service is dedicated to protecting our nation's precious archeological resources and sharing archeological work with the public. Explore, learn, and participate in archeology. 


History and Historic Places

The American Revolution Lighting Freedom’s Flame
This website is an index to educational programs related to the American Revolution available to K-12 teachers.  Some programs are structured around a park visit while others can be used entirely within the classroom.  Just read the summary of what is available and click on the program name for details and ordering information.

Civil War Battle Summaries
Each summary provides basic statistical data on the location, dates, commanders, size, and casualties of each battle. It also indicates the ranking of the battle by military importance and the battlefield's level of priority for preservation. A one paragraph historical narrative describes the circumstances, action, and outcome of the battle.

The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System
This is a computerized database containing very basic facts about servicemen who served on both sides during the Civil War; a list of regiments in both the Union and Confederate Armies; identifications and descriptions of 384 significant battles of the war; references that identify the sources of the information in the database; and suggestions for where to find additional information.

Cultural Groups
The values, beliefs, and achievements of numerous cultural groups have helped shape America.  Search this web site for an index to educational features and information associated with the cultural groups that have played a role in American history.

Heritage Education Services

Teaching with Historic Places
The Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) program uses places listed in the National Register to enhance and enliven the teaching of history, social studies, geography, civics, and other subjects. The program offers a variety of products and activities, including a series of online classroom-ready lesson plans based on registered historic places.  These lesson plans, which are linked to history and social studies standards, can be used in the classroom regardless of whether students are able to visit the sites.  The web site provides information on how to prepare lesson plans on historic places and other professional development information. 

Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itineraries
Spotlighting different themes such as civil rights, the Underground Railroad, aviation, women’s history, and the Lewis and Clark expedition, as well as regions and communities across the country, this ongoing series of travel itineraries exposes visitors to a huge variety of places significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Historic American Buildings Survey, Historic American Engineering Record, and Historic American Landscape Survey collection of architectural and engineering documentation

American Memory: Built in America  
This permanent collection of architectural and engineering documentation is safeguarded at the Library of Congress (LC).  The Library of Congress selected the collections of the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER) to be digitized as part of its National Digital Library initiative, because a group of teachers selected these as among the most useful LC collections. The collections consist of measured drawings, large-format black and white and color photographs, written historical and descriptive data, and original field notes.  The documentation captures the essence of the American experience through recorded historic structures and sites. The Library offers online searching of the LC-HABS/HAER Catalog and digital display of all available images for structures recorded in the Collections.

Lying Lightly on the Land: Building America's National Park Roads and Parkways
Lying Lightly on the Land traces the history of park road development, shows how changing road conditions have affected visitors' perceptions of the national parks, and explains how park road designers attempt to balance the competing concerns of scenic preservation and public access. It features artwork, historic photographs, vintage tourist memorabilia and car-camping equipment, historic construction films, design models, plans, interactive computer displays, and interpretive drawings. Based on research conducted by the National Park Service's Historic American Engineering Record, the exhibition includes material from parks and parkways across America.

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training Heritage Education Initiative, Heritage Education – Louisiana
The NPS’s National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) Heritage Education Initiative is piloted as Heritage Education – Louisiana, a program developed by teachers for teachers.  Heritage Education Louisiana aids teachers in creating integrated lessons and activities that use cultural resources as the foundation. 

National Heritage Areas  
National Heritage Areas are places designated by the United States Congress where natural, cultural, historic and recreational resources combine to form cohesive, nationally distinctive landscapes arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography.  These patterns make National Heritage Areas representative of the national experience through the physical features that remain and the traditions that have evolved in the areas.  Visit the National Heritage Areas on line from this web site.

National Historic Landmarks
National Historic Landmarks are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior, because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction. Fine out about these special historic places and about the National Historic Landmarks Program.  

American Defenders of Land, Sea & Sky
Travel through time and across country to 56 special places in our nation's past--National Historic Landmarks that hold fascinating stories of America's "common defense." Begin with the first shots of the Revolutionary War and "follow history" to the War of 1812, the Struggle for Western Territory, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, two World Wars, and the Cold War. Visit forts, battle sites, old ships and planes, a modern submarine, and a pioneering space vehicle! See special places where peace treaties were signed; view monuments that honor those who have been lost to war. The website includes a link to a Guide for Teachers, Parents, and Other Educators.

The Great American Landmarks Adventure 
The Great American Landmarks Adventure takes you on a trip through time and space through a series of drawings by Roxie Munro.  You’ll see 43 National Historic Landmarks and learn about more than 3,000 years of our country’s past.  Travel has been arranged by Heritage Preservation Services, National Park Service.

National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official inventory of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and expanded and maintained by the National Park Service, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, recognize, and protect districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture. Currently the National Register has more than 80,000 listings including some 1.4 million historic properties in communities across the country.  Visit the National Register’s web site to find and learn about authentic historic places, the benefits of recognition, and how to become involved in identifying, nominating to the National Register, and protecting these irreplaceable reminders of our heritage. 

NPS Focus
Visit the NPS Focus interface, a “digital library,” to find out more information about properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Summary information about National Register properties can be found through the use of a simple or an advanced search.   From the summary information navigate to the text of a National Register nomination or see the photographs associated with a nomination.  Basic information such as resource name, address, location, and date of listing all appear in the summary information. 

Photographs from the official National Register and National Historic Landmarks archives - from a variety of sources, including State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPO) and nomination preparers, have been posted to the web through the photo sharing site, Flickr.  Each individual picture, collection, or set, is accompanied by a textual description and explanation of the historic significance of the listed property.

National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom
The National Park Service’s Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program coordinates preservation and education efforts nationwide to integrate local historic places, museum, and educational or interpretive programs associated with the Underground Railroad.  Learn about the Underground Railroad and explore the Network from this web site.

Park History
Today, roughly 60% of the nearly 400 park areas administered by the National Park Service have been set aside as symbols and evidence of our history and prehistory. Many natural parks contain historic places that represent important aspects of that history. Collectively, these places present an American history textbook, a textbook that educates us about the people, events, buildings, objects, landscapes, and artifacts of the American past and about the aspirations and actions that produced those tangible survivors. The National Park Service's history web site represents varying aspects of this history emphasizing the educational value of historic places and the importance of the stories that connect us to them offering a window into the historical richness of the National Park System and the opportunities it presents for understanding who we are, where we have been, and how we as a society, might approach the future. This collection of special places also allows us to examine our past—the contested along with the comfortable, the complex along with the simple, the controversial along with the inspirational.  These pages also provide an opportunity for a national discussion of history and its importance to contemporary society.  


National Park Service Museums and Collections

Museum Management Program

Teaching with National Park Service Museum Collections
The National Park Service Teaching with Museum Collections program provides lesson plans for teachers to use National Park Service museum collections in student-centered educational activities.  The lesson plans emphasize links between the “real things,” National Park Service collections, and America’s history.  Collections connect students to their past, rich and varied cultures, momentous events, inspiring ideas, and the places where the nation’s history happened.  National Park Service collections include history, archeology, ethnography, natural history specimens, and historic documents and photographs located at over 360 sites where they were made, used or collected.  Teaching with Museum Collections lesson plans link to national education standards.  

Virtual Museum Exhibits
Virtual National Park museum exhibits feature collections that tell the story of America; its peoples, history, cultures, significant events, and ideas that continue to inspire the world.  The American Visionaries, American Civil War, American Revolutionary War, American Southwest series, and many others provide a rich in-depth and close-up exploration of America's patrimony with extraordinary images of National Park Service collections.

NPS NPS TwHP Zumbrota Covered Bridge, Fire Island Light House, Mesa Verde, Charleston Market