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Your Backyard Classrooms

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. - Confucius

line art of turtleHands-on, out-of-classroom learning adds educational options and greatly enhances comprehension. Virginia's widespread and numerous state parks and natural areas are ideal for such learning, and the system’s SOL-referenced Your Backyard Classrooms program offers an easy, fun and exciting ways for teachers to help students learn about nature, history and culture.

Virginia’s State Parks and Natural Areas… Your Backyard Classrooms is a set of K-12 science and social studies lesson plans tailored for use in parks and natural areas. The plans were originally developed for DCR by the Virginia Museum of Natural History in 1998. Starting in 2014, DCR staff from various disciplines began revising many of the plans.

Each activity:

  • Is correlated to the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL).
  • Has clearly stated objectives.
  • Has background information and step-by-step instructions.
  • Includes pre- and post-visit classroom elements.
  • Includes a list of enriching suggestions and resources.

DCR manages Virginia’s state parks and natural areas and provides on-site workshops. At workshops, instructors learn to use lessons suitable for students’ interests and abilities. Teachers also get to know friendly, professional DCR staffers and learn about the particular park or natural area and its resources.

Teachers interested in taking part should contact the state park or natural area nearest their school to set up a workshop or field trip. Here are maps of Virginia's state parks and the state's natural area preserves.

Educators can download lesson plans listed below to use during field trips to Virginia State Parks and natural areas. We recommend that you first participate in a workshop for hands-on training. Here is a list of available workshops.

Lesson plans

Many more plans will be posted as they are redone from printed versions.