Great Outdoors Month
In honor of Great Outdoors Month, Teaching with Historic Places features lesson plans that focus on the opportunities afforded by the nation's wealth of natural resources. These places offer natural beauty, inspiration, recreational experiences, exploration, and unique living environments. Created by National Park Service interpreters, preservation professionals, and educators, these lessons are free and ready for immediate classroom use by students in history and social studies classes.
• Bryce Canyon National Park: Hoodoos Cast Their Spell (64)
Explore the natural wonders of this once remote area in Utah and learn how it gained popularity as a tourist destination, became one of the scenic wonders on the Union Pacific Railroad's "Grand Circle Tour" in the early 20th century, and finally attained national park status. (National Park/Includes Bryce Canyon Lodge, a National Historic Landmark)
• Camp Misty Mount: A Place for Regrowth (47)
Inspect a recreational demonstration area (RDA) in western Maryland, created in response to a growing "back to nature" movement and as part of a Great Depression government relief program. It was one of many projects whose goals included creating new sites for public recreation from agricultural property that no longer provided its owners reasonable incomes. (National Park)
• Castolon: A Meeting Place of Two Cultures (17)
Compare the Spanish and Anglo influences on settlements along the Texas-Mexico border region of the Rio Grande. Discover how the Army recruited for soldiers to serve at a camp there by appealing to the "red blooded" nature of men who "long for the great outdoors." (National Park)
• Chicago's Columbus Park: The Prairie Idealized (81)
Learn about Jens Jensen, a famous landscape artist who believed that "multitudes who rarely get beyond the City limits need the quietude of the pastoral meadow and the soothing green of grove and woodland in contrast with the noise and glare of the great city." The parks he created reflect his efforts to promote conservation and an appreciation for the native plant life of the United States.
• The Emerald Necklace: Boston's Green Connection (86)
Learn about Frederick Law Olmsted and his philosophy about parks and cities as well as city life during the Industrial Revolution. Concerned with the health and happiness of Bostonians restricted to unhealthy surroundings in the late 19th century, the city hired Olmsted to design a series of parks that included lovely waterways, botanical gardens, peaceful meadows, and tree museums. (Includes Arnold Arboretum, a National Historic Landmark)
• Going-to-the-Sun Road: A Model of Landscape Engineering (95)
Learn about the challenges of constructing roads in difficult terrain and in such a way as to enhance, rather than damage, fragile and beautiful places. Discover one such road in Glacier National Park, Montana, which affords drivers vistas of glacier-sculpted mountains, deep blue lakes, lush forests, and wildlife. (National Park/National Historic Landmark/Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
• Keys Ranch: Where Time Stood Still (65)
Meet Bill Keys, a self-reliant 20th-century homesteader who, along with a few others, chose the California desert as the place to establish a ranch and raise a family. His ingenuity allowed him to thrive in this inhospitable environment.
• The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Documenting the Uncharted Northwest (108)
Learn about the 1804-1806 expedition that effectively explored uncharted lands, recorded scenes of inspiring beauty, established relations with numerous American Indian nations, gathered useful scientific data about the West, and opened the Northwest to the influence of the United States.
(National Park/National Historic Landmark)
• Life on an Island: Early Settlers Off the Rock-Bound Coast of Maine (16)
Discover how early settlers survived on Maine's coastal islands despite harsh living conditions. Learn about the large Gilley family, who worked hard to live off the land and sea, and whose later memories included developing expert boating skills and enjoying the endless variety of colors, shades and textures that played over the surfaces of the hills and water.
• Mammoth Cave: Its Explorers, Miners, Archeologists, and Visitors (35)
Tour the world's longest cave, a geological wonder in Kentucky, and assess the ways it has been used and preserved as a historic resource. From the dawn of time visitors have been awestruck by the cave's size and its rugged beauty.
(National Park/UNESCO World Heritage Site)
• Mount Auburn Cemetery: A New American Landscape (84)
Explore the country's first large-scale designed landscape open to the public, which inspired the development of other rural cemeteries, public parks, and designed suburbs. Established just outside Boston, Mount Auburn Cemetery became a sightseeing destination as thousands of visitors from Europe and other American cities roamed its winding paths and wrote about its attractions.
• Weir Farm: Home of an American Impressionist (22)
View the world through an artist's eye and learn how an important art movement was established in America. Acquiring a farm in Connecticut, the painter Julian Alden Weir became one of a group of artists who found comfort and inspiration in the quiet everyday settings of New England, and, in many ways, defined our vision of the American landscape.
To learn more about TwHP's other lessons, visit the Lesson Plan Descriptions page.