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Our National Parks

Each week, Education World's Great Sites for Teaching About ... page highlights Web sites to help educators work timely themes into their lessons. Internet educator Walter McKenzie selected this week's sites, which are among the best on the Web for teaching about our national parks.

  1. Park Net
    The official Web site of the National Park Service offers links to its many national treasures, searchable by special topics, recreational activities, park type, and location. In addition, the site's Learning Place provides a number of online educational features, including a tour of park plants and animals and information and activities related to the parks' natural and cultural resources. This site provides an excellent resource for a study of the history and ecology of the United States!

  2. Teaching With Historic Places
    This site, from the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, offers classroom-ready lesson plans that use historic sites to study American history. The lesson plans, appropriate for students from the upper elementary grades through high school, include maps, text, and photographs. This is are a great way to enhance history, social studies, geography, and civics lessons. In addition, the site offers an Author's Packet that allows teachers to create their own park-related lessons.

  3. Yellowstone
    This site is chock full of all kinds of current information about our most popular national park, and it offers three virtual tours: Our National Parks, Yellowstone, and Yellowstone Geysers. Be sure to check out the Free Stuff section, where you'll find free Internet access, e-mail, screensavers, postcards, and more!

  4. Grand Canyon
    This site offers visitors an exciting virtual tour of the history, geography, and special features of this desert park. The site includes information about the desert and the plants and animals that inhabit it, maps of the canyon geography and climate, and QuickTime movies showing a 360-degree view of desert locations. In fact, you'll find everything you need to plan a virtual trip to the Canyon from the comfort of your own classroom! There's even a message board where you can read messages posted by other park visitors-- and post a message or two of your own!

  5. Yosemite

    This site provides information, breathtaking photography, and an excellent set of links to all of the popular national park sites in the southwest, including Death Valley and Joshua Tree. Students will want to create their own virtual tour of this amazing park!

  6. Mount Rushmore
    Whether you approach this wonder from the viewpoint of art, history, or science, it is a truly an inspiring monument to our American heritage. This site offers background about the memorial, photos, and a special look at the monument on the Fourth of July.

  7. Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

    More commonly known as the Gateway Arch, this St. Louis marvel celebrates the vision of Thomas Jefferson at the turn of the 19th century. The site provides great facts for physics students!

  8. The National Mall
    This interactive map allows visitors to tour the major monuments and attractions along the Mall in Washington, D.C., from the Capitol and the White House to the Smithsonian Institution and Union Station. A few of the links are outdated (current links are http://web1.si.edu/postal Smithsonian National Postal Museum, The Old Executive Office Building, The United States Capitol, and The Smithsonian Castle and Botanical Gardens)but this tour is well worth taking!

    Walter McKenzie is a former classroom teacher, a consultant, and editor of the Innovative Teaching newsletter.

Walter McKenzie
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