I love the National Parks service that we have here in the U.S. One of the things I’m looking forward to doing with my kids when they’re a little older is to help them explore some of the places in National Parks and National Forests that I’ve enjoyed in my life. My love of the outdoors is why I always get excited when I come across new and updated resources from the National Parks Service.
Most National Parks are still closed right now, but that doesn’t mean kids can’t learn about them. The National Parks Service offers a large collection of online and offline activities that kids can do to learn about National Parks even if they can’t visit them right now.
The NPS Games and Challenges collection includes games about animals and landmarks within parks, drawing and coloring pages, hands-on projects like making costumes, and virtual scavenger hunts.
The NPS games about animals are a fun little guessing games in which students see a baby animal and have to guess what it will look like when it is grown up. For example, can you tell if this is a baby mountain lion or a baby bobcat? The Where the Park Am I? game shows you a 360 image taken within a park and you have to guess which park it was taken in. Go here and see if you can spot Acadia National Park (that’s the only National Park in my state).
Virtual National Park Bingo is a game that asks players to explore a variety of NPS webpages and external resources to complete the bingo board. One of the bingo squares requires taking a national parks virtual tour. You could do that on the NPS website or head to this Google Earth collection to tour the U.S. National Parks.
Applications for Education
I only highlighted a few of the dozens of activities that you can find on the NPS’ Games and Challenges site. There is something on there for students of all ages to try online and offline. And, of course, many of the activities can be modified to the needs of your students. For example, it wouldn’t be hard to create a different version of National Parks Bingo based entirely on the imagery and information in the Google Earth collection of NPS tours.
On a related note, I offer an on-demand webinar all about using Google Earth and Maps in your classroom. You can find that webinar here.