Tools and Tie-Ins for the National Parks Documentary

(copied from

I’ve been waiting with bated breath for the documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” that began airing last night on PBS.  Mostly, because I am always incredibly impressed by anything Ken Burns produces, but also because I am a HUGE supporter of National and State Parks!  And the first two segments of the series (which runs for 6 nights – – 12 hours total) did NOT disappoint!

I know that a lot of teachers and homeschoolers are trying to create unit studies and projects based on this documentary, and I can understand why.  The possibilities for curriculum tie-ins to a production on our National Parks are practically limitless!  So, I decided to put together some of the tools and sites that I am aware of that would go well with any study on this subject.

Of course, PBS has it’s own site for educators, which hosts a lot of different lesson plans and ideas for studying about National Parks.  But here are some other options as well…


Geology of the National Parks – A virtual tour

Windows into Wonderland – beautiful electronic field trips put together by the National Park Service.  Explore everything from the wolves of Yellowstone to the geysers.

Virtual Parks

Language Arts Tie-Ins

SpellingCity: National Parks Play games with spelling words related to the documentary.

Vocabulary Fun Build your national-park-related vocabulary skills using any of these topics for games:

  • Flora
  • Geology
  • Trees
  • Nature
  • Animals
  • Travel

Yellowstone: Native American Myths – review some of the Native American myths and then write your own

Science Tie-Ins


Interactive Map: Where Yellowstone Wolves Roam

Weird Life Forms in Yellowstone

Yellowstone’s Kid’s Site: Scavenger Hunt

Volcano World – Geology of Hawaiian Volcanoes

Encyclopedia Encarta: Geysers

Social Studies Tie-Ins

Sierra Club: John Muir Exhibit

What do Park Rangers Do?

National Park Service: The Statue of Liberty

National Park Service: Teaching with Historic Places

America the Beautiful

Webrangers – Become a park ranger and explore the world of the national parks

Enjoy these great resources, and make the most of this wonderful documentary on America’s National Parks!

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3 Responses

  1. Don’t forget that you can watch them on-line for free at PBS’ site until Oct. 6th? 8th? One of those.

  2. I LOVE PBS documentaries . . . all information, no partisan push-pull.

    I also love national parks . . . I’ve only seen a few, because they all seem to be outside even though I’m an inside kind of person, but I do like watching documentaries and enjoying the beautiful nature via air conditioning and TV.

  3. Ooooh, good reminder, Holly!!

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