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Take a Virtual Road Trip to learn about the top 5 most visited National Parks! Students will use Google Earth and multiple print and digital sources to quickly draw information to answer questions pertaining to the National Parks. This resource includes print and digital options!


This resource is aligned to the Common Core Standards, as well the Washington State Social Studies Standards for grades 5-8. This resource also makes a great sub plan.


Students begin by reading a short passage about a National Park to build background knowledge before using the cool features of Google Earth to explore the parks, and answer the questions on their Park Pass. In addition, students will navigate to the National Parks website to learn more.


This lesson can be conducted over the course of a week, with students spending time exploring one park per day. Students will fill out a road map throughout the trip to track their location.


All answer keys are provided, a grading rubric is included, as well as 2 extension worksheets where students analyze the reading passages. The extension printables work well as a wrap up activity. An assessment is also included. This activity involves very little prep! Now updated to include a Google Slides edition so that the pages can be completed digitally




Students will learn about the following:

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Grand Canyon National Park
  • Zion National Park
  • Yosemite National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park


What’s Included:

  • Teacher Set Up Instructions
  • Grading Rubric
  • Google Earth Keyboard Short Cuts Reference Sheet
  • National Parks Labels (label manila envelopes to stay organized)
  • Reading Passages (5 parks included)
  • Park Passes (5 parks included, all student instructions are included on the sheets)
  • Road Map (students label their road trip locations on the map)
  • Answer Keys (check student work before receiving the next Park Pass)
  • 2 Extension Sheets (analyze the text; aligned to the WA standards)
  • Assessment Sheet
  • Google Slides Edition (just added!)


Please note: Students will use computers to complete this activity. Specifically, students will need access to Google Earth, and the websites provided. You will want to ensure ahead of time that the websites are not blocked by your school’s server. Also, websites change from time to time. I have done my best to include questions that will make sense even if a website changes, however I will also do my best to ensure that this resource is up to date and reflects any major website changes.


This resource in aligned with the following Common Core Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.7 Draw on information from multiple print or digital sources, demonstrating the ability to locate an answer to a question quickly or to solve a problem efficiently.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.


This resource is also aligned to the new Washington State Social Studies Standards:

GEOGRAPHY 1: Understands the physical characteristics, cultural characteristics, and location of places, regions, and spatial patterns on the Earth’s surface.

  • Enduring Understanding: Knows that the use of tools (e.g., maps, globes, charts, graphs) is important to understanding the world around us.
    • G1.5.4 Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their environmental characteristics


  • Enduring Understanding: (US) The United States is a geographically diverse nation with distinct physical and cultural regions whose characteristics have impacted the nation.
    • G1.6-8.5 Explain and analyze physical and cultural characteristics of places and regions in the United States.
    • G1.6-8.6 Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their political, cultural, and economic dynamics.


GEOGRAPHY 2: Understands human interaction with the environment.

  • Enduring Understanding: Knows that the human-environment interactions are essential aspects of human life in all societies and they occur at local-to-regional scale. Human actions modify the physical environment and, in turn, the physical environment limits or promotes human activities
    • G2.5.3 Explain how the cultural and environmental characteristics of places change over time.
    • G2.6-8.6 Analyze how the environment has affected people and how people have affected the environment in the United States in the past or present.

National Parks Virtual Field Trip: Google Earth Exploration (Distance Learning)

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