Franklin School’s fourth grade teacher Anna Pantoliano was inspired to call attention to U.S. national parks after she took a recent vacation to the southwest and after her students read a story about Yellowstone National Park. What began as a classroom project soon expanded to a fair that would allow students to display their acquired information on their national park in the school auditorium for their fellow students and their parents to see.
On Friday, Feb. 1, Pantoliano’s class proudly stood in front of their posters filled with facts, photos and their own personalized touches.
National Park Fair
The auditorium was transformed into a world of wonder with the depictions of national park landscapes. Pantoliano’s students resembled park rangers, each with a bandana that adorned their necks. The students waited as their fellow classmates from Franklin School and their parents came to learn what national parks have to offer.
“I’m very pleased that the children are learning and enjoying themselves at the same time,” said Pantoliano.
Parents like Dawn Landry said they were impressed by the vast information that the students could recite. The fair provided insight on up to 22 different national parks, ranging from Acadia to Yellowstone, each represented by one student.
“I’m really excited, because it’s about national parks and I really like animals,” said Adon Arias, who studied Death Valley National Park. “It was established in 1994 and [it has] 1.3 million acres. You can’t see any scorpions because they camouflage with the sand.”
“I feel the parents need to know more places they can take their children on vacation.” – Anna Pantoliano
“You think because it’s named Bryce Canyon it’s actually a canyon, but it’s not. It was not formed by flowing water; it was carved out by erosion,” said Samuel Arias of Bryce Canyon National Park. “It was [first] named Bryce’s Canyon because there was a man that lived there and [the canyon] was his entire backyard. In 1924 they made it a national park.”
“This is the world’s longest cave in Kentucky,” said Sebastian Subiza of Mammoth Cave National Park.
“[It] has the world’s tallest cactus in North America, which is 50 feet tall and weighs 7 tons, which is 14,000 pounds,” said Angie Andia of Saguaro National Park. “The park only has two seasons, summer and winter.”
“It has the most active volcanoes,” said Martin Ramos of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
“They put a wilderness part for the wild animals, an ancient forest for the forest animals and snowy mountains for the mountain animals,” said Jian Olmedo of Olympic National Park, which is three parks in one.
“This is the fifth largest park,” said Aileen Cobos of Yosemite National Park. “There’s about 150 species of birds and 318 lakes.”
“The Smokies have many of the tallest mountains in the Appalachians,” said Nataly Benavides of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
“Yellowstone is the most popular national park in the world,” said Alexia Arnero. “I like that Old Faithful erupts every 91 minutes. There are about 3 million visitors in one year.”
“It was formed by the Colorado River and took 3 to 6 billion years to form,” said Victor Figueredo of the Grand Canyon National Park. “There are over 1,307 species of plants and 494 species of animals.”
For more information on national parks visit: http://www.nps.gov/index.htm or visit North Bergen Free Public Library.
Inspiring new vacation possibilities
Pantoliano was inspired to create a project for her students because of her love for national parks. A recent vacation to the southwest opened Pantoliano’s eyes to the wonders of the parks.
“I came back saying, ‘I didn’t know how beautiful the United States is,’ ” said Pantoliano. “I feel the parents need to know more places they can take their children on vacation.”
The project began with a story read by the class about Yellowstone National Park. Students were soon on their way into learning about U.S. national parks. The class wrote to each of their individual national parks in order to obtain further information. Then they created their own posters along with souvenirs to give out to their guests during the fair.
Students were eager to vacation at the national parks they learned about.
“I would go there in a minute if I could,” said Samuel Arias. “If I had the choice I would go right now.”
Olmedo is looking forward to visiting Olympic National Park because his uncle has promised to take him this year.
“After all this research [on the Rocky Mountain National Park] it convinced me to want to visit,” said Eiara Abreu.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org