Teaching with the National Parks is one of my favorite ways to engage my students. I am lucky enough to teach the regions of the country in social studies, so it lends itself to teaching about the National Parks. I am able to also integrate the National Parks into math lessons and an end of the year research paper. However, my favorite way to incorporate the parks into my classroom is with Buddy the (bow tie wearin’) Bison.
Buddy the Bison is our classroom “pet” who travels with students to the National Parks. Buddy began his journey with me while I was visiting Springfield, IL with another teacher (yes, we took a day of our spring break and traveled down to Springfield just to visit the capitol!). Since then Buddy has traveled to 23 different NPS sites with 12 different students (and one teacher)—and as an added BONUS my students (and their families) all get into the parks for free through the governments Every Kid in a Park initiative for 4th graders!
Buddy travels with a bag of additional learning tools for my students—books, games, NPS passport, etc. He has even earned a handful of Jr. Ranger badges, which are donned on the front of his bag. After students have visited the parks, they document their travels in Buddy’s journal for everyone to read.
The National Parks are truly a gem of our country! I encourage all of you to welcome the parks into your classroom, and inspire your students to go out and explore them!
What is your favorite National Park? Comment below!