The Every Kid in the Park program, now called Every Kid Outdoors, is all about helping kids get outside to learn about our natural wonders and historic sights.
The initiative is made available from The National Park Service and aims to provide 4th graders with a free annual pass to visit the over 400 units of the National Park System as well as federal recreation areas of land and water.
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Why Just Fourth Graders?
Research indicates that children in 4th grade, or age 9-11, are at an age that they can really start to understand how the world works around them. At this age, they are more apt to be engaged with nature and the environment as they learn. Getting kids in the parks and engaged with the world around them helps us raise responsible and informed adults.
What if My Younger or Older Child Wants to Participate?
Let them be part of The Junior Ranger Program! The Junior Ranger program is an activity-based program that you can find in almost all of the national parks. It is typically for children between the ages of 5 and 13, but people of all ages can participate.
To be a Junior Ranger, kids will interview a ranger, complete a series of activities during their visit to the park, share their answers, and receive their official Junior Ranger patch and certification.
They also offer a Junior Ranger Online program where kids can participate in online and printable activities. Parks will often post information and activities online for kids to discover and learn. This is a great way to view special parks and watch the wildlife from the comfort of your own home. It is also a great way to become a Junior Ranger online if you cannot get out to any of the national areas.
How to Get Involved with Every Kid Outdoors
In order to enjoy the vast amount of federally managed lands and waters, your 4th grader will need a special pass. Getting the pass is easy.
- Head over to Every Kid Outdoors to get your free pass.
- Participate in a short educational activity.
- Print your free passes.
What do I do with the pass?
Now that you have your free pass, enjoy the national lands and waters when you and your family head out on a vacation or field trip.
The pass is good for free entry for your 4th grader to any of the participating areas. No matter where you live, you have a participating area that is not too far away and within driving distance. A complete list can be found here.
This pass will have a unique code for 4th graders. If you have more than one 4th grader, you will need to get a pass for each child.
However, kids can bring a few friends and family into the parks with them. The pass grants free entry for fourth graders, all children under 16 in the group, and up to three accompanying adults. It is also good for an entire carload if you are going to visit a drive-in park. The pass is only for free entry into the areas and does not cover fees for camping, boat rides, etc.
Junior Ranger Badges You Can Earn From Home
For those looking for ways to incorporate the nation’s National Parks into your homeschool, there are plenty of fun and engaging options. For some National Parks, you don’t even need to leave your house. Here are some Junior Ranger Badges you can earn from home. You can of course visit these monuments and parks in person, but you can also earn badges from home.
National Park Badges You Can Earn From Home
Junior Ranger Experience and Occupation Based Badges You Can Earn From Home
Junior Ranger Activities for Homeschool History
Visit the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument and earn a Junior Suffragist certificate. This location was the home to the National Woman’s Party for almost 90 years. It was the center for all things related to the women’s rights movement. Earn an online certificate by completing the educational booklet to learn more about this historic monument.
Virtually visit the North Carolina Home and Farm of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and journalist, Carl Sandburg. The Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site Junior Ranger program is a great place to learn about his poetry and experiences. Complete the booklet activities while perusing the website and earn a Junior Ranger Badge right from home.
Head to the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument website to learn about Charles Young and earn a Junior Ranger badge online.
One National Park on my bucket list is Glacier Bay in Alaska. The Glacier Bay Web Ranger program kids to learn about this national park online and earn a sticker and certificate upon completion of the online activities.
Other Ways to Learn about National Parks in Your Homeschool
If you’re looking for additional ways to incorporate the national parks into your homeschool, consider theTraveling the Parks unit study from The Waldock Way. This study explores 60 of the nation’s national parks in a fun and engaging way for all ages. It corresponds with America’s National Parks book and covers information about animals in the parks, notable people, history, games, and more.
National Parks Games to Play
Another fun resource that teaches about the National Parks System is the
Whether you choose to visit a National Park in person, virtually, or incorporate some games into your homeschool, these historical sites and geographical wonders are the perfect resource to bring into your homeschool.