Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Mapping The National Parks

[Detail] The Grand Canyon. Clarence E. Dutton, 1882.

Arts & humanities

Using Mapping the National Parks, students can improve their understanding of places and times in history while they develop their language arts skills. The collection's maps can form the basis for creative and expository writing activities, including travel writing, environmental essays, and biographies. Several maps can also be used to help students understand and interpret symbolism.

1) Travel Writing

Students can create a character from another time period who is traveling in the region of a national park featured in this collection. Is this person an early European explorer? A cartographer hired by the government or a private party? Or a frontiersman leaving family behind to seek out fortune and adventure?

Once the students have created their characters, they can browse the Subject Index to find a map that existed when this character would have lived.

Students can then use this map to write travel stories or essays for a specific audience. Is the character writing a book of adventure? A book to advise future travelers to the area? Or is he or she reporting back to the funder of the trip? Is he or she writing in a journal? Or letters home to family or friends? Imagining that they are travelling a route on the map, have students use place names and geographic features to give their writing detail. Does the character find the map to be accurate and useful? What modifications would the character have made to the map based on his or her discoveries?

To read other travelers' writings, students can search on author Mark Twain or names of western states in the collection California as I Saw It: First Person Narratives, 1849-1900.