Program Information & Study Materials

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 have available, so you can choose what’s best for your class. Or you can click here for other educational program content areas that can be covered.

All educational programs are approximately one hour long unless otherwise posted. All programs are aligned with the Standard Course of Study Science Curriculum of North Carolina Public Schools. We can also 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.

Educational programs are also available for college and graduate student groups. Please call the Director of Education Jesse Pope, 828-733-3224, to discuss your specific needs and a program or hike can be developed for your group.

Niches and Habitats

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, C, 2.3: A, 2.4: A, 3.1: C, 3.2: D, 4: D

We will learn what a habitat and a niche is to different animals and also gain a better understanding of their own. 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.

Creepy Critters

Essential Standards Covered:Kindergarten: K.L.1; 1st Grade: 1.L.1.1, 1.L.1.3
NAAEE 1.A, 1.E, 1.G, 2.3.A, 3.2.A, 4.C, 4.D

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.

Animal Behavior

Essential Standard Covered: 4th Grade 4.L.1.1-4.L.1.4
NAAEE 1A, 2.2A, 3.1D, 4D

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.

An Introduction to Geology of Grandfather Mountain

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, B, 2.4: A, 3.1: A,4: D

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 Appalachian’s then you don’t want to miss this!


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, 2.8.3
NAAEE 1: A, F, G, 2.2: C, 2.3: A, E, 2.4: A, C, 3.1: C, 3.2: B, 4: D

In this hands on program students will create their own watershed. They do 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 under-standing of how they can help keep their watersheds healthy.

Landforms & Properties

Essential Standards Covered: 6th Grade: 6.E.2.1-6.E.2.4
NAAEE 1: A, 2.1: A, B, 2.4: A, 3.2: B, 4: B, D

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.

Owl Ecology

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,C, 2.3:A, 2.4:A, 3.1:C, 3.2:D, 4:D

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 their habitat depending on their needs. Also meet some of our educational owls during this program.


Essential Standards Covered: Kindergarten: K.E.1.2-3; 2nd Grade: 2.E.1.2-2.E.1.4; 5th Grade: 5.E.1.1-5.E.1.3; 7th Grade: 7.E.1.4, 7.E.1.6; High School: EEn 2.5.5, EEn 2.6.1-2.63
NAAEE: 1: A, C, 2.4: A, 3.1: B, 3.2: C, 4: D

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 effects we can have on weather and climate.

The Wonderful World of Plants

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 D, 4: D

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!

Carrying Capacity, Limiting Factors and Population Ecology

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 1A, 2.2A, 2.2C, 2.3A, 2.4, 3.1B, 4D

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!

Human-Wildlife Interaction

Essential Standards Covered: 8th Grade 8.P.2.1, 8.P.2.2, 8.E.1.4, 8.L.3.1, High School Bio 2.2.1-2.2.2, EEn.2.2.1- 2.2.2, EEn.2.4.1, EEn.2.4.2, EEn.2.6.3, EEn.2.8.1-2.8.4
NAAEE 1: A, G, 2.2: C, 2.3 E, 2.4: A, D, 3.2: B, C, 4: D

This program looks at the effects of people’s actions, such as littering and habitat destruction, on the 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 as a result. Students will be asked to create a play based on a few items that can have an effect on animals. The students will leave with ideas on how they can do little things to help save our environment.

A Beginners Guide to Bird Watching

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

This is a great way for students to learn how to identify birds in the wild by learning their basic characteristics. We will talk about topics such as migration, flight, wing shapes, beaks, feet, and even songs.

Animal Charades

Essential Standards Covered: Kindergarten K.L.1.1, 1.L.1.1
NAAEE 1: A, 2.2: A, 3.2: B, 4: D

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.

The Thicket Game

Essential Standards Covered: 1.L.1.1, 1.L.2.2, 4.L.1.2
NAAEE 1: A, 2.2: A, 3.2: B, 4: D

This program is geared for smaller groups (under 30) and is designed to teach students about adaptations and they role it plays 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.

If you have any questions please contact Jesse Pope at (828) 733– 3224 or by email at You can also reach the Naturalist office at (828)733-4326.

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