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Lesson Plans in the Curriculum Kit

More than half the National Park Service's 384 units were added to the system primarily because of their historical or cultural significance. The six lessons in Explore Your National Parks: Historic Places illustrate how parks document many of the most important developments in American history.

These lesson plans have been adapted from ones published as part of the National Register's Teaching with Historic Places program. They explore American history in ways textbooks cannot, with documents, images and maps that allow students to enjoy a historian's sense of discovery as they learn about the past. They fit comfortably into standard curriculums and can be used throughout the school year. They offer activities that show how national events connect to local history, in the process pointing out that history exists in places all around.

Below is a table that describes each lesson, including the time period and the topics it covers. Choosing any of the pictures on the right will send you to the section of the table that summarizes the lesson based on that park. The lessons whose titles are blue are presently available for viewing and downloading; the others will be added in the future.

These pages also explain why and how to use these lessons to enrich and enliven courses in history, social studies, civics, and geography. These pages describe the ideas behind Teaching with Historic Places and offer proven methods for bringing these six national parks into the classroom.

"San Antonio Missions:  Spanish Influence in Texas"
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
"The Old Courthouse in St. Louis:  Yesterday and Today"
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
"Choices and Commitments:  The Soldiers at Gettysburg"
Gettysburg National Military Park
"The Invention Factory:  Thomas Edison's Laboratories"
Edison National Historic Site
"Remembering Pearl Harbor: The USS Arizona Memorial"
USS Arizona Memorial
"First Lady of the World:  Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill"
Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site


San Antonio Missions:
Spanish Influence in Texas

Explore 18th century missions and learn about Spanish influence on native peoples and Texas culture.
Colonial/Revolutionary American Indian History, Hispanic-American History, Religion, Science and Technology

The Old Courthouse in St. Louis:
Yesterday and Today

Compare two images of St. Louis's handsome Courthouse--as a gathering place for pioneers heading west and as a focus for Dred Scott's efforts to free his family from slavery.
Mid-19th Century African-American History, Community Planning and Development, Politics and Government, Westward Expansion

Choices and Commitments:
The Soldiers at Gettysburg

Trace the course of this Civil War battle and consider the wrenching personal choices made by soldiers on each side.
Mid-19th Century Military History

The Invention Factory:
Thomas Edison's Laboratories

Tour Edison's West Orange complex where his creative combination of research, production, and marketing revolutionized the business of invention.
Gilded Age/
Progressive Era
Commerce and Industry, Labor History, Recreation and Tourism, Science and Technology

Remembering Pearl Harbor:
The USS Arizona Memorial

Trace the course of the Japanese surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, and consider the significance of the sunken USS Arizona as a war memorial.
Modern America Military History

First Lady of the World:
Eleanor Roosevelt at Val-Kill

Examine how Roosevelt's activities at home reflected her interest in humanitarianism, as epitomized by her leadership in the creation of the UN's Declaration of Human Rights.
Modern America International Relations, Philanthropy and Humanitarianism, Politics and Government


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