Educational Programs

Educational Program Information & Study Materials

No matter what your students are learning, Grandfather Mountain has, or can create, a program to help build their knowledge. The list below describes the educational programs we offer, so you can choose what’s best for your class. Or you can contact us to create a custom program that fits your needs!

We can develop specialized programs if you are interested in covering another aspect of Science or Social Studies, or programs can be altered to accommodate other age groups. Grandfather Mountain offers three types of programs for students: Educational Programs (in-park), Small Group Programs (in-park) and Outreach Programs (in your classroom).

All educational programs are approximately one hour long unless otherwise posted. All programs are aligned with North Carolina’s Essential Standards curriculum and the North American Association for Environmental Education’s Guidelines for Learning. Programs are also available for college and graduate student groups.

Please contact Amy Renfranz, education specialist, at amy@grandfather.com or (828) 733-4326 to discuss your specific needs, and a program or hike can be developed for your group. DOWNLOAD THE PROGRAM LIST AS A PDF

Life Science

Niches and Habitats We will learn what a habitat and a niche are for different animals; students will also gain a better understanding of their own habitat and niche. Students will get to look at some of our educational animals and real animal skins, skulls, antlers and feathers in order to reinforce the ideas of adaptations. Essential Standards Covered: 4th Grade: 4.L.1.1-4.L.1.4; 5th Grade: 5.L.2.1-5.L.2.3 NAAEE: 1:A, 2.2:A and C, 2.3:A, 2.4:A, 3.1:C, 3.2:D, 4:D

Creepy Critters This program is designed to help us better understand the “creepy” side of the animal world. We will look at snakes, bats, owls, spiders, insects and other creepy critters (some living examples!). We will look at the positive side of these animals and see that even though an animal may be perceived as creepy it is still important to an ecosystem. Essential Standards Covered: Kindergarten: K.L.1; 1st Grade: 1.L.1.1, 1.L.1.3 NAAEE: 1:A, 1:E, 1:G, 2.2:A, 3.2:A, 4:C, 4:D

Habitat Tour Join us on a walk through our Environmental Habitats to explore the natural history behind each animal. This program typically allows for students to view live animals and is adapted for different curricula from animal adaptations to the interdependence of the animals in their environment. Essential Standards Covered: Kindergarten: K.L.1; 1st Grade: 1.L.1.1, 1.L.1.3; 2nd Grade: 2.L.1; 4th Grade: 4.L.1.1-4.L.1.4; 5th Grade: 5.L.2.1-5.L.2.3; 8th Grade: 8.L.3.1-8.L.3.2; High School: Bio.2.1-Bio.2.2 NAAEE: 1:A, 1:E, 1:G, 2.2:A, 2.2:C, 2.4:A, 2.4:C, 4:D

Animal Behavior Students will learn why animals do the things that they do. After a brief lesson on behavior, we will go to our animal habitats and make some behavioral observations of our animals. After we make our way through the habitats, we will collect each student’s observations and make classifications of behaviors and compare them to different animals, then discuss ideas about why animals act certain ways. Essential Standard Covered: 4th Grade 4.L.1.1-4.L.1.4 NAAEE: 1:A, 2.2:A, 3.1:D, 4:D

All About Birds This is a great way for students to learn about the diversity of birds in the wild by learning their basic characteristics. We will talk about topics such as migration, adaptations, flight, wing shapes, beaks, feet and even songs. Essential Standards Covered: 4th Grade 4.L.1.1-4.L.1.4 NAAEE: 1:A, 1:B, 2.2:A, 2.2:C, 3.1:D, 4:D

The Wonderful World of Plants This program will focus on the key elements that plants need to survive, how they adapt to different environments and the plant life cycle. If possible, we will conclude the program with a hike outside! Essential Standards Covered: 1st Grade: 1.L.1.1-1.L.1.3, 1.L.2.1; 3rd Grade: 3.L.2.1-3.L.2.4; 6th Grade: 6.L.1.1, 6.L.1.2, 6.L.2.2, 6.L.2.3 NAAEE: 1:A, 2.2:D,2.4:E, 3.2:C and D, 4:D

Carrying Capacity, Limiting Factors and Population Ecology This program offers a hands-on approach to learning about dependent and independent variables for populations in the wild. Students will have a chance to brainstorm and educate their peers in a fun way! Essential Standards Covered: 6th Grade: 6.L.2.1, 6.L.2.3; 8th Grade: 8.L.3.1-8.L.3.3; High School 2.1.1-2.1.4, 2.2.1, 2.2.2 NAAEE: 1:A, 2.2:A, 2.2:C, 2.3:A, 2.4, 3.1:B, 4:D

Human-Wildlife Interaction We will look at the effects of people’s actions, such as pollution and habitat loss, and discuss health and survival of our native wildlife. We will discuss what can happen to an ecosystem due to the loss of particular animals within the system, including effects on humans that result. Students will be asked to create a play based on a few items that can affect animals. The students will leave with ideas on how they can do little things to help save our environment. Essential Standards Covered: 1st Grade: 1.L.1.1-1.L.1.3; 4th Grade: 4.L.1.1-4.L.1.3 NAAEE: 3.2D, 4D

Owl Ecology Discover the many secret niches of this nocturnal animal. Learn the differences between many of our common owls and how each one of these can adapt to its habitat depending on its needs. Also meet some of our educational owls. Essential Standards Covered: High School: Bio 2.1.2-2.1.4, Bio 2.2.1, Bio 2.2.2 NAAEE: 1:A, 2.2:A and C, 2.3:A, 2.4:A, 3.1:C, 3.2:D, 4:D

Animal Charades This program is a great hands-on way to teach students the difference between “wild” animals and “domestic” animals. After we gain an understanding, we will play charades with a little twist. This is typically a component of the Creepy Critters program. Essential Standards Covered: Kindergarten: K.L.1.1; 1st Grade: 1.L.1.1 NAAEE: 1:A, 2.2:A, 3.2:B, 4:D

Earth Science

Kid’s Clouds Students will look at clouds and talk about their favorite kinds of weather. They will make a cloud viewer and observe different types of clouds and discuss how understanding clouds can give clues about future weather. Essential Standards Covered: Kindergarten: K.E.1.2-3 NAAEE: 1:A and C, 2.4:A, 3.1:B, 3.2:C, 4:D

How We Study Weather Discover why we have weather and how we measure weather. Participants will have the opportunity to use tools that meteorologists use in the field to record the weather at Grandfather Mountain. Essential Standards Covered: 2nd Grade: 2.E.1.2-2.E.1.4 NAAEE: 1:A and C, 2.4:A, 3.1:B, 3.2:C, 4:D

Forecasting our Weather Learn about Grandfather Mountain’s extreme weather in this interactive program that explores the difference between weather and climate. Participants will record current weather conditions using real tools and have the opportunity to predict the weather based on cloud formations and other measurements. Essential Standards Covered: 5th Grade: 5.E.1.1-5.E.1.3 NAAEE: 1:A and C, 2.4:A, 3.1:B, 3.2:C, 4:D

An Introduction to the Geology of Grandfather Mountain This program will introduce students to geology on a first-hand basis. Students can actually touch billion-year-old rocks, see real rock formations and discover how we can use rocks as evidence to tell us our geologic history. If you’re interested in geology and want to know more about the Southern Appalachians, then you don’t want to miss this! Essential Standards Covered: 4th Grade: 4.P.2.2, 4.P.2.3, 4.E.2.1-4.E.2.3; 6th Grade: 6.E.2.1-6.E.2.4; 8th Grade: 8.E.2.1, 8.E.2.2 NAAEE: 1:A, 2.1:A and B, 2.4:A, 3.1:A,4:D

Landforms & Properties In this program we will travel back millions of years to the formation of Grandfather Mountain. We will learn about the different processes that formed North Carolina and the Appalachian Mountains and the processes that have continued to shape the mountains over the centuries. Essential Standards Covered: 6th Grade: 6.E.2.1-6.E.2.4 NAAEE: 1:A, 2.1:A and B, 2.4:A, 3.2:B, 4:B and D

Understanding Weather Systems Come discover the wonders of weather using tools and techniques real meteorologists would use in the field. We will discuss the difference between weather and climate, how they both impact our lives, and the effects we can have on weather and climate. NAAEE: 1:A and C, 2.4:A, 3.1:B, 3.2:C, 4:D

Small Group Programs

These programs can be conducted for groups of 30 or less.

Watersheds In this hands-on program students will create their own watershed. They complete a series of demonstrations to show how pollution can travel in a watershed and how our landscape has changed over time. Students will leave this program with an understanding of how they can help keep their watersheds healthy. Essential Standards Covered: 8th Grade: 8.E.1.1, 8.E.1.3, 8.E.1.4; High School: EEn2.4.1, EEn2.4.2, EEn2.7.1-3, EEn2.8.2, EEn2.8.3 NAAEE: 1:A, F and G, 2.2:C, 2.3:A and E, 2.4:A and C, 3.1:C, 3.2:B, 4:D

The Thicket Game This program is designed to teach students about adaptations and they role they play in survival. In the end, we will play the Thicket Game, and students will have the opportunity to act as animals and see how tough survival can really be! It is a great way to teach a semi-difficult subject in a fun, hands-on manner. Essential Standards Covered: 1st Grade: 1.L.1.1, 1.L.2.2; 4th Grade: 4.L.1.2 NAAEE: 1:A, 2.2:A, 3.2:B, 4:D

Habitat Diversity (2-3 hours) Explore different plots of land to examine why different animals and plants live in specific habitats. This hands-on, field-based program allows students to understand how abiotic factors can change landscapes and ecological communities. This is a program for groups looking for a unique field experience and is catered to various curricula. You will discuss your group’s learning objectives with our staff naturalists to get the most out of this program.

Outreach Programs

Grandfather Mountain naturalists also can be booked for educational programs in your classroom from November through March! Read below about our current Outreach Programs or download this information as a PDF.

Owl Ecology Discover the many secret niches of this nocturnal animal. Learn the differences between many of our common owls and how each one of these can adapt to its habitat depending on its needs. Also meet some of our educational owls. Essential Standards Covered: High School: Bio 2.1.2-2.1.4, Bio 2.2.1, Bio 2.2.2 NAAEE: 1:A, 2.2:A and C, 2.3:A, 2.4:A, 3.1:C, 3.2:D, 4:D

Niches and Habitats We will learn what a habitat and a niche are for different animals; students will also gain a better understanding of their own habitat and niche. Students will get to look at some of our educational animals and real animal skins, skulls, antlers and feathers in order to reinforce the ideas of adaptations. Essential Standards Covered: 4th Grade: 4.L.1.1-4.L.1.4; 5th Grade: 5.L.2.1-5.L.2.3 NAAEE: 1:A, 2.2:A and C, 2.3:A, 2.4:A, 3.1:C, 3.2:D, 4:D

Creepy Critters This program is designed to help us better understand the “creepy” side of the animal world. We will look at snakes, bats, owls, spiders, insects and other creepy critters (some living examples!). We will look at the positive side of these animals and see that even though an animal may be perceived as creepy it is still important to an ecosystem. Essential Standards Covered: Kindergarten: K.L.1; 1st Grade: 1.L.1.1, 1.L.1.3 NAAEE: 1:A, 1:E, 1:G, 2.2:A, 3.2:A, 4:C, 4:D

Geology Rocks! This program introduces students to minerals and rocks on a firsthand basis. Students can touch minerals and rocks, learn about real rock formations and discover how we can use rocks as evidence to tell us our geologic history. If you’re interested in minerals and rocks and want to know more about the Southern Appalachians, you don’t want to miss this! Essential Standards Covered: 1st Grade: 1.E.2.1; 4th Grade: 4.P.2.2, 4.P.2.3, 4.E.2.1-4.E.2.3; 6th Grade: 6.E.2.1-6.E.2.4; 8th Grade: 8.E.2.1, 8.E.2.2 NAAEE: 1:A, 2.1:A and B, 2.4:A, 3.1:A,4:D

Understanding Weather Systems Come discover the wonders of weather using tools and techniques real meteorologists would use in the field. We will discuss the difference between weather and climate, how they both impact our lives, and the effects we can have on weather and climate. NAAEE: 1:A and C, 2.4:A, 3.1:B, 3.2:C, 4:D

All About Birds This is a great way for students to learn about the diversity of birds in the wild by learning their basic characteristics. We will talk about topics such as migration, adaptations, flight, wing shapes, beaks, feet and even songs. Essential Standards Covered: 4th Grade 4.L.1.1-4.L.1.4 NAAEE: 1:A, 1:B, 2.2:A, 2.2:C, 3.1:D, 4:D

We visited for a week from FL and the kids said Grandfather Mtn was their favorite day! They loved it there!
Lisa
Winter Springs, FL
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