In all of nature there is something of the marvelous.
What is your favorite outdoor activity? Perhaps you enjoy swimming, hiking, boating, or another way to enjoy Mother Nature. Many others share your enthusiasm, in fact, June is Great Outdoors Month. Started in 1998, this celebration of the outdoors has grown from a weekly event to a month-long recognition of American state and national parks.
Visiting and exploring state parks has never been easier. The National Park Service has an extensive website featuring information on our national parks that is searchable by state. Choose any park site to learn more about the history of the location and planning a visit. Some parks even allow kids to become Junior Rangers.
The National Park Service website also has an excellent page just for kids. Did you know that all fourth graders have free admission to all National Parks? Have any fourth grader fill out the diary entry at Every Kid in a Park and submit to print a pass valid for access to federal land and waters. Webrangers is another section of the park service site for kids to explore and learn about people, nature, and animals through interactive activities.
Getting outdoors to enjoy parks and nature is just the beginning of a learning experience for both adults and children. Here are some suggestions to enhance and expand the enjoyment of being outside and share the experience with others.
- StoryMap JS brings stories to life using maps and pictures. Share the story of your outdoor adventures using this tool. StoryMap features allow users to tell their story using multiple locations, making it perfect for creating a visual online journal of outdoor activities throughout the summer months. For additional information on using StoryMap, check out the TeachersFirst review of the site. Younger children will need help with this site; however, older students will enjoy creating and sharing their story maps.
- Share your photos and tell your story using Adobe Spark. This site is incredibly easy to use, yet it allows users to create and share beautiful graphics, web pages, and videos. Distant relatives and friends will enjoy sharing in the outdoor experience using this creating and engaging tool.
- Before your park visit, learn more about the history through Internet research. Save your findings on a bookmarking site such as Symbaloo. This Symbaloo mix provides an excellent starting point and includes links to park pictures, videos, and other national park information. Add this webmix to your Symbaloo account, then start adding other weblinks to include. Use this as your start page on computers to make it easier for young students to access shared sites quickly. You might also consider adding links to sites featuring information on local wildlife, plants and landforms.
- Teachers will appreciate the lesson plans and additional information located on the National Park Service website section for educators. The useful search options make finding lessons by subject, grade level, and Common Core Standards easy. Additional options include distance learning programs for virtual field trips with park rangers and local experts.
Take advantage of the unlimited opportunities available as potential learning experiences. Consider your everyone’s interests to personalize tools for exploring these interests more deeply. Share some suggestions for use over the summer with parents as a way to encourage deeper learning by sharing their outdoor experience through photographs, maps, and online journal writing.
Do you have a favorite national parks lesson or a site to hghlight your family’s outdoor experiences? We always love hearing ideas from our readers in the comments below.