National Park Service for Teachers





Update: Shortly after I posted this, the NPS did, in fact, shut down all its web content, as well. Sad! So bookmark this one for another time. Thanks to Anne D. for discovering this.


National Parks Service

So you can’t visit National Parks in person due to the government shutdown. Thankfully, there is still lots of great content available online via the National Parks Service to take you on a virtual field trip!

The NPS website for teachers offers distance learning, videos, and materials lists. Their lesson plans are searchable by grade level and subject, so you can easily find standards-aligned lessons on everything from wild horses to Ben Franklin.

There’s lots of content here, and I love the idea of learning about history, biology, and ethics through the lens of our nation’s landmarks.



I recently “attended” a webinar about reaching reluctant readers, and the presenter frequently referred to ePals as a resource. In that context, he explained it as a great place for age-appropriate articles that would entice fans of nonfiction to read. Sign up for the service and articles from Smithsonian are delivered straight to your inbox.

It wasn’t until I went onto the site to sign up that I saw the true scope of ePals, and its intended purpose. While it hosts a great variety of teacher-friendly resources (lesson plans, projects, articles), it is in fact a service that matches up classes around the world as pen pals. A teacher simply signs up and makes a profile, indicating the type of classroom he or she is interested in connecting from (Spanish-speakers, students in China, students in grade 3).

Watch this video for a quick overview.

The site makes communicating with classes around the world so easy, with video-chat and email services incorporated. You can search for a class to talk with, or join a project that other classes are doing. With all the great resources (from trusted sources like National  Geographic, Cobblestone/Cricket, and Smithsonian), your class can read an article on global warming, then discuss it with another class in Argentina! Having a common discussion point can help to dispel any awkwardness.

Even if you aren’t interested in connecting with international classes, the resources on this site are top notch. There are some great project ideas, and Learning Centers with games, quizzes, articles, and videos on topics in science, current events, and books.

The site has a lot, which means it can be a bit overwhelming. I encourage you to take a look, though, because ePals is a portal to all kinds of innovative learning.


This is awesome: educational hip-hip! Flocabulary is a subscription service (with some free content) that uses hip-hip to teach current events, vocabulary, math, and even bullying prevention, for kids in grades K-12. Take a look at their video for this past week’s Week In Rap, an overview of current events making the  news. In addition to music and videos, Flocabulary has activities and lesson plans to help students delve deeper into subject matter once their interest has been sparked by the music.

What’s especially exciting about Flocabulary is that it’s not some cheesy attempt to pander to kids; it’s really fun, factual raps that don’t feel forced or silly. Plus, the content is aligned with common core standards. It’s also affordable; a teacher subscription to both Flocabulary plus the Week in Rap videos is only $7/month. There’s also a free 30-day trial, if you’re interested in seeing what you think first.

The First Thanksgiving by Scholastic

First of all, this is Applewild Technology’s 100th post! Woohoo!

OK, now that that’s out of the way…

One of my favorite go-to places for high quality educational resources and activities is Scholastic. Their feature on the first Thanksgiving includes a virtual field trip on the Mayflower, a look into the daily lives of both Pilgrims and Indians, and a Web Quest. There is so much here, and much of it was produced in association with Plimouth Plantation. This is a really great way to get your students thinking about what the world was like back then.

Encyclopedia of Life

The Encyclopedia of Life is a free, online encyclopedia that catalogs Earth’s diverse life-forms. The encyclopedia was created with the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which, if you listen to NPR, you’ll know is “committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world.” In keeping with this theme, the site is filled with gorgeous photos, sound bytes, and videos so that you can see and hear different species. Each entry also contains taxonomic information and a complete list of sources, making it a great resource for studying life, biodiversity, and ecology.

The writing and tone of this encyclopedia is scientific and academic, making it more suited for older students, but it can certainly be used as a media resource with younger kids who are interested in animals.

YouTube for Schools

Though it is one of the most commonly blocked websites at schools across the country, YouTube is trying to get into the education game. A new channel on the video service website curates videos that can be used in classes, sorted by grade level and subject.

The quality of the videos varies, but there are some good resources here. The organization is also really helpful, saving you lots of time by making it easy to find videos on the topic you’re looking for. As a matter of fact, the slogan of YouTube for Schools is “Spend more time teaching, less time searching.”

Take a look at this video on magnetic breakfast cereal!