Did you know there are 63 national parks in the United States? No matter where you live, there’s a national park not too far away.
If you’re looking for an amazing way to learn more about natural resources, landscape, and geography, National parks are perfect for that and more. While you’re there, you’ll discover all kinds of great ways to explore and learn using the national park system.
Can’t travel to all of the parks? No problem, I’ve put together an at home unit study filled with resources, books, and games to make learning about all the parks from home easy and fun. Keep reading to discover our homeschool plan for traveling the national parks together.
Using The National Park System As Your Classroom
America’s national park system makes an amazing classroom for homeschoolers! There’s so much to learn in each of our National Parks. We love exploring our nation through the parks, because there are opportunities to learn about the unique plants, animals, and geography of different regions all over the US.
From the weird and interesting geographical features at Yellowstone to the synchronous fireflies at Congaree, there’s a lot to discover and learn! The Junior Ranger program available at most National Parks makes it easy to learn about the park’s features while you’re there with activities and interesting facts.
The Junior Ranger program rewards kids with patches and badges for completing activities in the park. It’s a super cool way to explore the national parks with kids. If you can’t make it to the park in person, check out the online program for games and activities to learn all about the parks at home.
When you plan your visit to a National Park, check to see which special programs they offer for kids in the park. The site Kids in Parks offers interactive adventures for various parks with activities like scavenger hunts and hide & seek in nature games. National Parks often have their own programs like story hours, guided trails, and kid-friendly tours.
Our Homeschool Plan For Traveling The National Parks
Field trips and traveling are a big part of our homeschool experience here at The Waldock Way. Exploring the National Parks in person is definitely our favorite way to learn about each park.
We are trying to visit as many as possible and learn about them all along the way. Check out some of the ones we have visited already and learn more about our experience at each park:
Congaree National Park
Who knew there was a little bit of Florida in the middle of South Carolina? That’s what we discovered when visiting Congaree National Park in Hopkins, South Carolina. Congaree has tons of amazing biodiversity to discover with your homeschoolers.
Our daughter, Emily, especially loved learning about Cypress trees and how they “breathe” with their “knees.” If you visit Congaree National Park in May or June, you can see the magical synchronous fireflies. Each year, thousands of fireflies put on an amazing show as they search for mates in the forest at Congaree.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There’s always lots of amazing biology and earth science to discover in the national parks, but one of my favorite things about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is all the history. The Smokies park is located in both Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee.
One of my favorite spots to visit is in Cherokee, North Carolina. In Cherokee, the Oconaluftee Visitor’s Center offers opportunities to explore the natural landscape and learn about the Native American tribe that still calls the area home.
If you visit the Smokies during the Autumn season, you’ll be rewarded with the beautiful foliage in the mountains. It’s definitely worth the trip! Driving through the park is the perfect way to see the changing leaves and all the colors of the mountains.
Shenandoah National Park
With lots of hiking, tours with park rangers, and the Rapidan Camp historic site, there’s plenty to explore in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. The best part? Driving along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah is my favorite!
Skyline Drive is 105 miles of scenic exploration where you’ll get to see The Shenandoah Valley, Big Meadows, the beautiful mountains, and woodland animals like deer, wild turkeys, and black bears. This curvy drive is beautiful and filled with flora and fauna to discover!
The hiking trails, picnic spots, and little stops along the way make a trip to the Shenandoah extra special. You can pick up books about the area in the gift shop and taste local food in little spots along the way.
Traveling The Parks Homeschool Unit Study
We love learning about and exploring the National Parks so much that I’ve created a homeschool curriculum all about them. Check out my Traveling the Parks curriculum to learn more about how you can explore the parks (even those you can’t visit in person) through these hands-on unit studies.
In Travelling the Parks, you’ll find a curriculum filled with readings, activities, and resources all about the national parks built around the book America’s National Parks from Lonely Planet Kids. Here’s what’s included:
- Teacher’s Manual (with a QR code for virtual tours of every park, a book list, and activities too)
- Student Notebook (including map pages and journal pages)
- Animal Profiles (with photos and fun facts)
- Game Pack (memory, bingo, and pictionary games)
- Templates (post cards and brochures from the parks)
- Who Was Theodore Roosevelt Mini Unit Study
Additional Resources For Homeschooling Your Way Through The National Parks
There are all kinds of cool resources, books, and games you can use in your homeschool lessons to explore the parks from home. Check out some of our favorites:
These resources are the perfect addition to your national park homeschool curriculum this school year. Use them as you explore the parks in person or through virtual tours. Enjoy these games for family game night or read the books together at bedtime.
What’s your family’s favorite National Park to visit? Is there a park you’re dreaming of exploring? Tell me all about it in the comments, I can’t wait to read them and learn more about our National Parks with your insider information!