This post is sponsored by Corning® Gorilla® Glass
Despite my former career as a classroom teacher, I believe that there are many educational experiences that happen outside the walls of a school. Teachers can create sparks by building background knowledge about places in a student’s mind through books, websites, and classroom discussions but there is nothing like being able to visit a place for yourself. As I think about my early experiences that cultivated a love of travel, sense of adventure, and desire to learn, my family’s road trips provided me with the opportunity to learn about the diversity of our state.
Childhood road trips to National Parks throughout the great state of California were some of my first travel experiences. Many times we didn’t even have to cross state lines to enjoy a place that provided an unforgettable day trip, weekend visit, or extended stay. As I got older, our road trips became longer. Summer trips to Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, and Grand Canyon provided the opportunity to visit public lands, waters, and parks where I connected with nature.
As an adult, I’ve never stopped wanting to learn about the world around me and these days I enjoy sharing what I’m learning with others through blogging and social media. Throughout this week I’ve been using Twitter and Instagram to chronicle my travels to Navajo National Monument in Arizona with Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4 for a Virtual Field Trip series. I’ve experienced some tough adventures in tough places while maintaining the elusive work and parenting balance by using my Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ to help me stay in touch with my family while I’ve been on the road.
Over the past week there have been many times where I’ve wished that my family was here with me because Navajo National Monument would be the perfect place for a family vacation. Thomas and Emily would love taking in the scenery while hiking the rim trails, learning about the Betatakin through a guided tour, and thinking about what life must have been like in 1250-1300 AD for prehistoric Puebloan Ancestors who lived in the villages built into the canyon walls.
About the National Parks
As a mom who aims to teach her kids through travel, I know I don’t have to travel far to give my kids experiences outside their everyday worlds especially with so many National Parks to enjoy throughout the United States. Today there are over 400 National Parks covering more than 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Such areas include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and even the White House. All serve as fantastic opportunities to provide our kids with an understanding of different places, people and cultures.
Created by an act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916, next year the National Park Service celebrates its centennial next year. There’s no better time to visit a National Park near you or in an adjoining state.
5 Steps for Planning Your Trip to the National Parks
While this week’s travels involved tough adventures in tough places, planning a trip to a National Park doesn’t have to be tough. The National Park Service has a wealth of resources to help you plan your trip and here’s a quick guide on how to begin thinking about your upcoming family vacation.
Find the National Parks in your state
FindYourPark.com features the ability to browse by state you enjoy the chance to unplug to enjoy quality family time surrounding by nature and incredible surroundings. The site allows you to select a park from the drop-down or choose a state from the map.
Think about the experience you might want to have
In addition to locating a National Park according to state, you can also plan your trip based on the type of experience you want your family to have. Since part of what makes a great family trip is involving your kids in the planning process, ask your kids what they might want to do. Consider following an archeology travel journey, explore a national heritage area, or try a Shared Heritage journey. Browse the events and activities across the country and the National Park Service’s monthly Getaway series for inspiration as you look for other ways to enhance your travel experience.
Consider your budget
Planning a trip always involves considering the overall cost but did you know that most National Parks don’t charge an entrance fee? For the parks that do charge, admission ranges from $3 to $25 and is good for an entire carload of people for a week! There are some days that are fee free so planning your trip around these days can help you save a bit of money. If you’ll be visiting multiple parks during your trip or throughout the year, invest in an annual pass that is good for admission at all parks for the year.
In celebration of the National Park Service’s centennial, fourth graders and their families are eligible to receive an Every Kid in a Park. This pass is good for the entire family and free access to hundreds of parks, lands, and waters for an entire year.
Build background knowledge
After you decide where to go, build some background knowledge to help your kids enjoy the experience even more. Learn about where the National Park is located, the types of animals that live there, what the weather will be like when you visit, and read any stories and legends associated with the area. Download free PDFs of printed brochures for the location you’re visiting. I took a peek at Navajo National Monument’s brochure (Navajo National Monument Pg. 1 & Navajo National Monument Pg. 2) before our adventure to get to know the area better and would want my kids to do the same!
Plan to take pictures and leave footprints
By taking only pictures and leaving only footprints, children of all ages learn important lessons in conservation. It’s important to remind kids about the importance of respecting the beauty of the place they’re visiting and treating the environment with care because it is the home of many wild animals. The memories that you will have of your family’s trip will last a lifetime but you can also pack light while ensuring that you capture great photographs of your vacation when traveling with a device like the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+.
Enter to win a Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ to capture your family’s travels to the National Parks and beyond!
The slim, sleek design of the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ features a 16 MP rear facing and 5 MP front facing camera, an adaptive display that adjusts to any light to make taking photos in bright sunlight even easier, and Gorilla Glass 4 — the toughest cover glass yet that dramatically improves protection against drops during your family trip making it the perfect companion for capturing all of life’s special moments at home or while on vacation.
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Although this post is sponsored as part of my participation as a member of The Corning Gorilla Glass 4 in the Desert program, all opinions are my own. For full sweepstakes rules, visit this link: http://ow.ly/TEd1Q