- America the Beautiful Quarters
- Students will examine, identify and describe Shenandoah National Park's geographical features, plants, animals and visitor activities.
- Students will use various media to create an original art piece.
Major Subject Area Connections
- Social Studies
- Language Arts
- Sessions: Five
- Session Length: 30-45 minutes
- Total Length: 151-500 minutes
- Whole group
- Individual work
Students should have a basic knowledge of:
- Geographical features
- Plants and animals
- The writing process
- The art-making process
Terms and Concepts
- Obverse (front)
- Reverse (back)
- Shenandoah National Park
- Artistic medium/media
- Original art
- 1 overhead projector or equivalent technology (optional)
- 1 overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the "Shenandoah National Park Quarter" page
- Copies of the following:
- "Find It in the Park" worksheet
- "A Peek into the Park" worksheet
- "Making a Mountain Museum Rubric"
- "Museum Placard Template"
- 1 copy of an age-appropriate text that includes basic information on Shenandoah National Park, such as:
- M is for Majestic: A National Park Alphabet by David Domeniconi
- National Geographic Kids National Parks Guide U.S.A.: The Most Amazing Sights, Scenes, and Cool Activities from Coast to Coast! by National Geographic Kids
- Go Wild for Shenandoah National Park Puzzles by Robert Rath
- Access to age-appropriate Web sites that provide basic information on and images of Shenandoah National Park, such as:
- 1 class map of the United States
- Chart paper
- Internet access
- Artistic media: crayons, colored pencils, markers, watercolors, paints, collage materials, clay, etc.
- Make an overhead transparency (or photocopy) of the "Shenandoah National Park Quarter" page.
- Make copies of the following:
- "Find It in the Park" worksheet (one per student)
- "A Peek into the Park" worksheet (one per student)
- "Making a Mountain Museum Rubric" (one per student)
- "Museum Placard Template" (1/2 sheet per student)
- Locate a text that contains basic information on Shenandoah National Park (see examples under "Materials").
- Bookmark Internet sites that contain information about Shenandoah National Park (see examples under "Materials").
- Arrange to use the school computer lab.
- Prepare a four-column chart labeled "A Peek into the Park." Label the columns "Features," "Flora," "Fauna" and "Fun."
Worksheets and files (PDF)
- Display and examine the "Shenandoah National Park Quarter" page. Locate this site on a class map. Note its position in relation to your school's location.
- As background information, explain to the students that the United States Mint began to issue the quarters in the America the Beautiful Quarters Program in 2010. By the time the program ends in 2021, there will be a total of 56 quarter designs. Each design will focus on a different national site—one from each state, territory and the District of Columbia.
- Tell the students that the front of a coin is called the "obverse" and the back is called the "reverse." Ask the students to tell you what they see in the image on the quarter's reverse. Explain that the coin image depicts a hiker taking in the view from Little Stony Man summit, a special viewpoint in Shenandoah National Park. A famous scenic road through the park, Skyline Drive, can be seen in the background. Tell the students that they are going to be learning about the special features of Shenandoah National Park.
- Display the "A Peek into the Park" four-column chart you prepared previously. Explain to the students that they will be learning more about the special features of Shenandoah National Park and recording them on this chart.
- Define these terms for the purpose of this lesson: Features (geographic forms), Flora (plants), Fauna (animals) and Fun (activities). Ask the students to identify items in the coin image that could be added to the chart. Record student responses with a small sketch of each feature. Student responses added to the chart may include: Little Stony Man summit (Features), mountains (Features), trees/forest (Flora), Skyline Drive (Fun) and hiking (Fun).
- Introduce the students to the selected text about Shenandoah National Park. Read the text aloud. Ask the students to listen for other park features that can be added to the "A Peek into the Park" chart. After the reading, ask the students to share other features they heard about in the text. Add each of these features to the chart with a small sketch.
- To summarize, guide the students in pairs to review the information they have learned. Have the students take turns describing characteristics of Shenandoah National Park using the following form: "In Shenandoah National Park, you will see _____."
- Distribute a copy of the "Find It in the Park" worksheet to each student. Ask the students to use the same sentence frame to write and illustrate an example of something in the park from each of the four categories.
- Explain to students that in the next session they will be researching additional information about Shenandoah National Park.
- Display the image of the Shenandoah National Park quarter. Review with the students the material covered in the previous session.
- Distribute the "A Peek into the Park" worksheet. Explain to the students that they will be using the Internet to research additional characteristics of Shenandoah National Park. Provide a brief orientation to the selected Web sites.
- Allow the students time to work with partners to conduct additional research about Shenandoah National Park. The students should complete the worksheet as they conduct their research.
- After the research, ask the pairs to share their findings and add new information to the "A Peek into the Park" chart as appropriate.
Sessions 3 to 5
- Display the image of the Shenandoah National Park quarter. Review with the students the material covered in the previous sessions.
- Tell the students that there are many artists who enjoy creating pieces of art representing the beauty of our national parks. Explain to the students that they will be creating a mini-museum of Shenandoah National Park using their research. Ask the students to brainstorm characteristics of a museum. List student responses on chart paper. Guide the students to discuss the term "placard," a label describing an object exhibited in a museum.
- Distribute a "Making a Mountain Museum Rubric" to each student. Review the directions and rubric. Guide the students to discuss the term "original art," a new piece of artwork created by an artist. Discuss the various art media that could be used to create their pieces of art, such as paint, collage, drawing or sculpture.
- Guide the students to make appropriate selections for their artistic representations of the characteristics of Shenandoah National Park. Provide materials and allow students time to create their original artwork.
- After students have completed their art pieces, distribute a copy of the "Museum Placard Template" to each student and review each component of the template. Allow time for them to complete their museum placards and the "Self" column of the rubric.
- Display the artwork and placards as in a museum and invite visitors to come learn about Shenandoah National Park. Collect the worksheets.
Differentiated Learning Options
- Allow students to dictate written responses.
- Allow students to complete worksheets, artwork and/or placards with a partner.
- Provide students with completed examples of artwork and/or placards.
- Have students use the "A Peek into the Park" worksheet format to study other national parks.
- Have students create representations of the same park characteristic in a variety of artistic media.
- Have students compare the features, flora, fauna and fun in two different national parks.
- Have students learn about how artists create the images for coins.
- Take students on a field trip (real or virtual) to an art museum.
- Invite a professional artist to visit the classroom.
- Have students learn more about the flora and fauna of America by visiting the 2012 Puerto Rico quarter lesson plan for grades 2 and 3 at www.usmint.gov/kids/teachers/lessonPlans/atb/2012/LP_1PR23.pdf.
- Have students learn more about American history through creating a museum with the 2006 Return to Monticello nickel lesson plan for grade 2 at www.usmint.gov/kids/teachers/lessonPlans/wjns/2006/02-monticello.pdf.
- Take anecdotal notes about the students' participation in class discussions.
- Use the students' worksheets, final products and the "Creating a Mountain Museum Rubric" to evaluate whether they have met the lesson objectives.
Common Core Standards
This lesson plan is not associated with any Common Core Standards.
Domain: NGSS-2-3 Next Generation Science Standard
Cluster: Earth and Space Science Disciplinary Core Concepts
Grade(s): Grades 2–3
- 4-ESS2-1 Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind or vegetation.
Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Disciplinary Standards
Grade(s): Grades 2–3
- guide learners in the use of maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective
- enable learners to use mental maps to organize information about people, places, and environments in a spatial context
- assist learners to analyze the spatial information about people, places, and environments on Earth’s surface
- help learners to understand the physical and human characteristics of places
- assist learners in developing the concept of regions as a means to interpret Earth’s complexity
- enable learners to understand how culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions
- provide learners opportunities to understand and analyze the physical processes that shape Earth’s surface
- challenge learners to consider the characteristics and spatial distribution of ecosystems on Earth’s surface
- guide learners in exploring the characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface
- help learners to understand and analyze the characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth’s cultural mosaics
- have learners explore the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth’s surface
- enable learners to describe the processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement
- challenge learners to examine how the forces of cooperation and conflict among people influence the division and control of Earth’s surface; help learners see how human actions modify the physical environment
- enable learners to analyze how physical systems affect human systems
- challenge learners to examine the changes that occur in the meaning, use, distribution, and importance of resources
- help learners to apply geography to interpret the past and present and to plan for the future
- enhance learners’ abilities to ask questions and to acquire, organize, and analyze geographic information so they can answer geographic questions as they engage in the study of substantive geographic content