Field Trips

Educational Activities

The National Park Service offers a variety of free educational activities to legitimate schools and educational institutions.Check out our 2017 program offerings. These may be classroom visits (within the local area#) or visits by your class to the park. We recommend combining a classroom visit with a field trip for best retention of material. Please call us to arrange activities.

If you don't see what you need in the "menu" below, please call us anyway. We have staff knowledgeable about many subjects and can customize a program for you. Also, check out the GLE page to see how our programs relate to state standards.

Call Dena Matteson 573-323-4814. These activities are popular and our staff is limited, so please call ahead!

Teacher's Guide to Caves and Groundwater

Ranger with kids in a creek
Students enjoy a Stream Study Program with a ranger
Grade Level Expectation (GLE) Applications to these programs
Field Trip Suggestions

Alley Mill - See an authentic 1894 roller mill and enjoy a bygone era. School visits may be arranged. Emphasis on how natural resources influenced settlement patterns or how economic engines such as mill communities influenced the development of Ozark culture. A visit to the one room school may be included, as well as nature walks.

Storys Creek Schoolhouse - Visit a one room schoolhouse to see how the "Three R's" were really taught. Immerse your students in a different time and place at the Schoolhouse at Alley Spring. This program helps children experience life in the late 1800's in the Ozarks. Spelling matches, ciphering matches, games of yesteryear, and a visits to the mill and general store are all packed into this day at an original one room school in the Ozarks!

Round Spring Caverns - We will still be able to offer schools a limited number of educational cave tours between May 1 and May 31. Call early! (573-323-8093) Enjoy the beauty underground! Classes may learn about karst, cave biology, groundwater or the fragility of underground systems. Group size is limited to 15 total, including adults. Larger school groups will be divided up and may wait outside, eat lunch or enjoy the playground equipment while the rest of the class takes its turn in the cave. Tours may be customized to one or two hours in length. PLEASE discourage participants (including adults!) from bringing their own flashlights - we find this to be disruptive. Visits to nearby Devils Well may also be included if your class has enough time.You may want to look at our Teacher's Guide to Caves for some pre-visit activities and information to prepare your class.

Children dissecting owl pellets
Students dissect owl pellets to learn about food chains.

Classroom Activities (each lasts about 30 minutes to 45 minutes)

Some have online versions you could use on a Smartboard!

Caves - Learn how caves form by making a working model of the cave formation process! Watch as millions of years of karst development pass in a few minutes! Ideal pre-activity for cave field trips. Concepts: karst, geology, erosion, groundwater. You may also want to look at our Teacher's Guide to Caves for ideas on classroom activities you can do on your own. Here's an online activity about erosion as a geological force, suitable for younger grades.

Native Americans - See and touch actual Native American artifacts and learn about Missouri's first people, the Paleo-Indians who were here thousands of years before Columbus. This program can stand alone, but is a required prerequisite for the Simulated Archeology Dig field trip. Concepts: human culture, archeology, archeological preservation. Additional Online activity. Also you might want to look at this Online Archeology Activity book for kids.

Water Quality- Using a simulated stream sample, we'll explore the techniques of monitoring water quality by sampling aquatic insect life. Ideal for use before a stream study field trip. Concepts: water pollution, indicator species, ecosystems. This activity is available online.

Mammals - By making plaster casts of animal tracks and seeing mammal pelts and skulls, students will learn about our closest animal relatives. May include a short video. Concepts: Food chains, endangered species, adaptations, ecosystems.* An online activity about winter wildlife at Yellowstone.

Natural Resources Careers - For older students, a slide presentation on the many careers in the natural resources field: Rangers, Educators, Maintenance Workers, Researchers, Firefighters, even Administrative careers. Question and answer session after slides. Additional Online activity suitable for lower grades.

Bats - Learn about the fascinating world of bats through a slide presentation, discussion and hands on examination of bat artifacts. Concepts: Endangered species, ecosystems, food webs.*

*Note: We do not provide programs with living animals. Some programs may include dead animal mounts, skins, hides or models.

Ranger demonstrates forest fire behavior in a classroom

Angie Smith demonstrates how wild fire spreads during a "Fire on the Mountain" classroom program.


Educational Activities are meant to further your educational objectives. They are not intended to be primarily recreational, although we hope everyone has fun learning! We want teachers to be involved. We are open to your ideas and suggestions for developing programs to meet your needs.

Our schedule fills up quickly, so please call to reserve programs as early as possible. We prefer to serve your class in the spring and fall, although any time of year is possible. There is no fee for these activities. A free Teacher's Guide to Caves & Groundwater, called More Than Skin Deep is now available online in an abridged version. For an unabridged printed version please send an e-mail or call (573) 323-4236, ext 0.

PLEASE CALL US at 573-323-8093 The "online scheduler" below is not in service.

Loading results...

    Last updated: December 28, 2017

    Contact the Park

    Mailing Address:

    P.O. Box 490
    Van Buren, MO 63965


    (573) 323-4236

    Contact Us