Out of the Classroom and Into the Park

Hands-On Learning in National Parks
August 23, 2017NPF Blog
– Jacob W. Frank/NPS

Just in time for the school year, the National Park Foundation is again bringing students from classrooms to the parks! With outdoor education activities and programs at parks all over America, it's now easier than ever to bring kids to a park – or to bring the park to them. 

From national park field trips to classroom activities and long-distance learning programs, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation are committed to providing unparalleled resources for teachers and experiential learning for students. Here's a glimpse at what you can expect from your parks this school year: 

Outdoor Education Activities

National park field trips offer fun, hands-on educational opportunities on a broad range of subjects, such as science, math, social studies, literature, and the arts. Field trips to national parks offer experiences tailored different to grade levels, from kindergarten right up through high school. Examples of the remarkable learning opportunities are happening across the country:

A group of students standing around tree saplings ready for planting at Glacier National Park
Jacob W. Frank/NPS

The National Park Service offers more than 100 additional types of field trips in parks all over the United States. Visit the National Park Service website to learn more about field trips near you!

Classroom Resources

In addition to outdoor education activities in national parks, a wide range of resources are available to bring the national park experience into your classroom. Use these materials to explore national parks with your students:

Students learning about Harriet Tubman

National Park Service
  • Student Activities: The National Park Service offers hundreds of student activities for every grade level, most of which are available to download directly from its website. Download lesson plans on the life of young George Washington, use game cards to learn how coral reefs are formed, or explore the relationship between people and their environment through Native American poetry. 
  • Distance Learning: National park rangers possess a wealth of knowledge on countless subjects, and distance learning programs offer students direct access to that information. Learn from a ranger about the effects of climate change on Alaskan glaciers, get an inside look at Civil War-era medicine, or follow along with a live scuba diver as they dive into the waters off the California coast. 

Open OutDoors for Kids

A group of elementary school students in a circle around a park ranger pointing at a rock at Glacier National Park
Jacob W. Frank/NPS

The National Park Foundation’s Open OutDoors for Kids initiative connects youth to national parks and develops their life-long connection to these places through fun and engaging park activities. As part of this initiative, the National Park Foundation provides transportation grants for the Every Kid in a Park program. This nationwide effort gives all fourth-grade students access to a free voucher for entrance into any national park for a full year. The Every Kid in a Park pass is good beginning on September 1 of their fourth-grade school year and running until August 31 of the following year. 

With a new school year upon us, now is the perfect time to make sure kids all over the country get to experience their national parks. Whether you're bringing your kids to a park or the National Park Service’s programs are bringing the park to you, there are hundreds of ways for you and your child to #FindYourPark. Let the learning begin!


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