An elementary school curriculum for exploring Hoosier history through the lens of Indiana State Parks’ development
Welcome to a series of curriculum units that explores Indiana’s history and its ties to Indiana’s beloved state parks. The Indiana State Parks system was established in 1916 as a centennial gift to Hoosiers, and our state parks’ story is Indiana’s story.
- Each unit includes ties to at least one of our properties; in most cases there are direct ties to two or more.
- Units are targeted to 4th graders and their study of Indiana history. But they can be adapted for use at any grade level or for informal education for Scouts or other groups.
- Each unit is correlated not only to State social studies standards but also to science and English/language arts standards.
- Each unit has assessment information, key concepts and vocabulary. Each unit has background information and a variety of resource links.
- Activities emphasize hands-on learning and include worksheets and a variety of media ranging from video to audio slideshow.
- Thanks to teachers, Ball State University history education staff and students, curriculum specialists in the Department of Education, staff at the Indiana History Bureau, and the Indiana Geological Survey for their review and support. Thanks also to the DNR Division of Communications for its assistance.
- Each Grade 3-5 classroom that completes lessons/activities from at least two of the curriculum units during the 2015-16 school year will receive a free one-day entrance pass to any Indiana State Park for each student in that classroom. Teachers must send a short report by students on their use of the units, along with a photo of the class participating in one or more of the activities. Send the verifying information to INStateParksHistory@dnr.IN.gov, along with the school address, and the one-day passes will be mailed to the school.
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Lesson 1: Indiana’s Ancient Seas
Students understand that 400 million years ago, when what is now Indiana was located near the equator, it was covered by a shallow sea. Students will also learn that the fossils found in many state parks and reservoirs are evidence left after the shallow sea disappeared.
Lesson 2: Glaciers in Indiana
Students discover how glacial ice and melting water shaped and reshaped the Earth’s land surface by eroding rocks and soil in some areas and depositing them in other areas over a long period. They will also look at how the glaciers affected two Indiana state parks.
Lesson 3: State Parks and Early Woodland Cultures
Students gain basic understanding of the Adena, Hopewell and other early Woodland cultures of American Indians and their connections to Mounds and Falls of the Ohio state parks. Students will gain insight into the connection between the Adena culture and the Hopewell tradition. They also will learn how archaeologists have studied artifacts and mounds to understand these cultures.
Lesson 4: Indiana—Land of the Indians
Students learn about American Indian tribes in early Indiana who lived on lands that are now state properties. Students will explore the causes of removal of three American Indian groups from Indiana, their resettlement during the 1830s, and what life is like today for these tribes.
Lesson 5: Indiana After the American Revolution
Students use primary and secondary sources to learn about some of the people and events that influenced the development of the state after the American Revolution. Students will examine Clark’s Grant, now part of Charlestown State Park, as well as the conflict between Tecumseh and William Henry Harrison, and the founding of Prophetstown.
Lesson 6: From Forests to Farms and Towns
State Parks and Settlement of Indiana Students learn about the challenges Indiana’s early settlers faced by looking at the lives of four families who settled on land that eventually became part of Indiana’s State Parks.
Lesson 7: Conflict, War and Parks
Students are introduced to the impact the Civil War, World War I and World War II had on the state, and the resulting development of state parks. Students will discover how Indiana played a role in various wars throughout history.
Lesson 8: Conservation Takes Hold: The Beginnings of Indiana’s State Parks System
Students learn how the Progressive Era impacted the creation of Indiana State Parks, and the role that Col. Richard Lieber and others played in leading that effort. They will see the value that relationship-building can play in carrying out challenging or creative new ideas. They explore the basic elements required for the establishment of a state park.
Lesson 9: Building Indiana State Parks — Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Works Progress Administration (WPA)
Students explore and understand the role of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression in developing facilities for Indiana State Parks, and will gain a sense of what the CCC meant to its members.
Historic Civilian Conservation Corps Newsletters
These documents may contain some offensive language or negative stereotypes. You should view these materials in the historical context in which they were created. The ideas expressed within any given text do not necessarily reflect the views of the IDNR.
Lesson 10: State Parks after WWII
Students explore economic and societal events of the last half of the 20th century that had a direct impact on Indiana state park and reservoir expansion, demand and visitation. This includes changes in camping and other uses, Earth Day and the environmental movement, development of USACE lakes and resource management at those sites, and changes in natural and cultural resource management in state parks and the development of nature preserves.
Lesson 11: Putting Out the Welcome Mat
Students see the diversity of careers that a person can have working in DNR. We are a department of scientists, technology experts, business professionals, historians, artists, communicators and storytellers. In addition, as part of this unit, students will select a property and learn about its history, geography and natural resources, and develop a personal plan for a visit.