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A Source to Call My Own

Grades 2 and 3
Language Arts, Social Studies, and Technology

Lesson Plan


After researching several national sites, students will create a reference source about one national site to demonstrate their learning.  This product will also demonstrate understanding of the specific features of the chosen print resource (dictionary, atlas, or encyclopedia).


Students will research specific national sites using a variety of resources.  Students will explore and describe geographical, ecological, and historical features of a specific national site.  Students will create reference sources to inform readers about national sites.


  • Two in-class sessions (30 to 45 minutes) for teacher-led lessons on national sites and reference sources
  • Three or four independent or in-class sessions (30 to 45 minutes) for Internet research and completing final products

Materials List

  • Internet access
  • Text that provides basic information about national sites
  • Materials to create reference sources (construction paper, markers, colored pencils, etc. or access to computers with publishing software)
  • Writing materials


  • National site
  • National Park
  • National Forest
  • National Seashore
  • National Battlefield
  • National Park Service
  • Geography
  • Climate
  • Wildlife
  • Species
  • Reference source
  • Resource
  • Dictionary
  • Glossary
  • Atlas
  • Encyclopedia

Lesson Plan Summary

  • Describe the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program for background information.  The program is described at  Tell the students that the back of a coin is called the reverse, and "obverse" is another name for the front. 
  • With the students, examine each of the five 2010 quarter designs.  Locate each of the sites on a class map.  Answer any student questions.
  • Introduce the concept of national sites through a text you read aloud or appropriate websites.  Note that national sites may include parks, forests, seashores, or battlefields.
  • Have the students briefly research a variety of national sites on the Internet.  You may focus the research on a small group of sites.  Students choose one national site to research more extensively, either individually or in small groups.
  • Review with the students different reference sources (dictionary, atlas, and encyclopedia), focusing on the specific characteristics and uses of each.  Have the students employ a worksheet to practice using reference sources.
  • Students each research a chosen national site carefully, taking notes on a worksheet to prepare for choosing and creating a reference source.
  • Students create a reference source that demonstrates knowledge about a specific national site and the characteristics of the reference source.  (The reference sources can be created by students using either writing and art materials or a publishing program.)  Students will share their work with peers.


  • Use the students' class participation, research work, and final products to evaluate whether they have met the lesson objectives.
  • Use the rubric to evaluate performance on the reference source product.

Differentiated Learning

  • Allow students to work individually, in pairs, or in small groups to research the national sites and/or create their reference sources.
  • Provide framed charts for each of the three types of reference sources. 
  • Work as a class to create one of the reference sources (for example, each student contributes one entry to the dictionary).

Connection to



National Council of Teachers of English ( and International Reading Association (

  • Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems.  They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Social Studies

National Council for the Social Studies (

  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • People, Places, and Environments


International Society for Technology in Education (

  • Creativity and Innovation:  Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
  • Research and Informational Fluency:  Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.

United States Department of Education National Technology Plan

Helpful Hints

  • Limit the number of national sites from which students may choose.
  • Using another national site as an example, go through the process of researching the site and completing the note-taking guide.  Make sure to discuss vocabulary that is likely to be found on all the national sites' websites (geography, climate, species, etc.).  As a class, discuss how a reference source for this site might look and what might be included.
  • Provide examples of reference sources on a variety of topics.  Review the characteristics of specific reference sources in each one.  Consider having students label the characteristics with sticky notes.
  • Review students' work on the "Keys to the National Site" and "Straight to the Source" worksheets before they begin their final products.

Student Version


  • Research national sites in the United States.
  • Choose one national park to study carefully and record notes.
  • Learn about reference sources (dictionary, atlas, encyclopedia).
  • Create a reference source about one national site.

Step-By-Step Directions

  1. IN CLASS:  Your teacher will introduce your class to national sites and the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program.
  2. Study national sites using and the other links on this page.  Your teacher may tell you which sites to study.  Choose ONE national site to research carefully.
  3. IN CLASS:  Your teacher will review the characteristics and uses of different reference sources.
  4. Print out the "Straight to the Source" worksheet.  Complete the worksheet to review characteristics and uses of different reference sources.
  5. Print out the "Keys to the National Site" worksheet.  You will gather information about your national site for all three kinds of reference sources.  You might need two copies of this sheet.  After completing the worksheet, you will decide which type of reference source you will create for your national site.
  6. Review your research on the "Keys to the National Site" worksheet and your planned reference source with your teacher.
  7. Print out the "A Source to Call My Own" worksheet.  You will create a reference source about your chosen national site using the information you gathered and any additional research.  You may want to go back and add more notes to your "Keys to the National Site" worksheet before you begin your final product.
  8. Complete your project.  You may create your reference source using classroom materials and/or the computer.  Use the rubric to make sure you do your best work.
  9. IN CLASS:  Share your work with the rest of your class.

Related Links


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