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Investigate Parks this Summer with Maps101's Help

Posted on May 09 2021

Investigate Parks this Summer with Maps101's Help

Dear Educators,

As Maps 101 explores the #SummerofWhere for 2021, this week let’s highlight parks! Of course, national parks are high on everyone’s road trip list for the summer. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was the most visited park in the National Park Service (NPS) during 2020, with over 12 million visitors. Take a look at visitation data from the NPS to see how popular your favorite park was last year. 

While national parks offer incredible outdoor experiences through unique, preserved landscapes, neighborhood parks can also be worthwhile to visit, especially when the weather warms up. For the youngest learners, Maps 101 explores local parks. Whether walking or biking to a local park, or road tripping to a national park, know that Maps 101 has student growth and learning in mind—from virtual Field Trips to exclusive articles, let Maps 101 be your guide this #SummerofWhere!!!!

Geography News Network

The Grand Canyon became a national park on February 26, 1919. This makes the park itself over 100 years old! The canyon landform, carved by the Colorado River, is much older, of course, but the canyon’s status as a national park ensures that it will remain protected and preserved for future generations to visit and marvel at its iconic beauty. Have students read this GNN article to learn more about the Grand Canyon. Critical-thinking questions at the end will engage students in classroom discussion or family discussion over the summer. 


 FieldTrip Library

This Field Trip includes a virtual visit to 15 of the nation’s national parks. Students can identify place and relative location by seeing the parks pinned to a map that can be easily zoomed and moved. Images and text bring each of the 15 parks into sharp focus. There is even an assessment available at the end, to gauge student understanding. Students will benefit from touring beautiful locations in the United States as everyone starts planning summer vacations, whether in person or virtually. For more virtual travels in the United States, visit the Travel in the U.S. Field Trip Library Collection to learn about maritime museums, whale watching, national monuments, and more.


People from all over the world travel to the United States specifically to view the Grand Canyon. The South Rim, seen on this map, is visited more than the North Rim, which requires a long drive around the canyon to access, but if you have time, both sites are worthwhile. This map shows the path the Colorado River makes. Over time, the water carved through rock, creating the massive canyon that we see today.

National Geographic Video

At Maps 101, your students can read about important sites, like the Grand Canyon, but they can also easily VIEW videos from National Geographic. In this short 2:17-minute-long video clip, National Geographic takes students on a trip river rafting on the Colorado, the river that runs through (and made) the Grand Canyon.


Other National Geographic videos are available that focus on U.S. national parks, including Denali, the Everglades, Utah’s national parks, and more. A subscription provides you access to thousands of pieces of content to engage, enrich, and teach your students, including Field Trips, Lesson Maps, videos, articles, maps, and much, much more.

 FieldTrip Library

While national parks, like the Grand Canyon, offer incredible sights and experiences for memories that last a lifetime, local parks are also worthwhile places to visit. And Maps 101 users include K-2 students, for whom this Field Trip was especially designed. If able, after interacting with this Field Trip, plan to visit a local park and have your students identify the characteristics of parks. Prompt them by asking, “How do you know this is a park?”


Parks are all around us and provide excellent opportunities for students to explore, energize, or relax. Similarly, this week’s Maps 101 content provides opportunities to engage students in class or at home, to keep their minds active, engaged, and exploring.

Identifying Characteristics of a Place
Teachers all over the country report to us that their students are lacking basic geographic knowledge and skills. This week’s content provides a perfect opportunity to engage students in practicing these skills. 

A basic geographic skill is recognizing the difference between a place and a location. Places have distinct characteristics. Locations are addresses or coordinates that pinpoint where a place is on Earth. Using the National Parks Field Trip, the GNN article on the Grand Canyon, or for the younger audience, the Parks Are Fun! Field Trip, have students create a graphic organizer that identifies at least three different places. Then, have them describe characteristics of these places that help them identify what the place is and what its purpose is. 

If able, take a walking tour of your area, pointing out various places and how they can be distinguished from other places. Look at architecture, signage, advertising, what is in or at the place that distinguishes it. In this way, students will practice identification, evaluate what is important, and analyze their own experience to enrich their understanding.

High-quality geography products for the classroom. From globes to wall maps, atlases to games, offers a wealth of products to help put your classroom on the map.
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