Lesson Plans

GRADES K – 3  
GRADES 3 – 5
GRADES 3 – 12
GRADES 4 – 8
GRADES 6 – 10
GRADES 5 – 12 


Exploring caves: teaching packet for grades K – 3
From the U.S. Geological Survey
"Exploring Caves" is an interdisciplinary set of materials on caves for grades K-3. Caves entail at least five scientific disciplines: earth science, hydrology, mapping, biology, and anthropology. Each of these disciplines involves a unique content area as well as the development of particular intellectual skills. This unit aims at helping teachers to sort and organize the most important ideas in this rich scientific area.


Junior Cave Scientist
From the National Park Service
The Junior Cave Scientist Program is a part of the National Park Service Junior Ranger Program. The goal of the Junior Ranger Program is to connect young people to their national parks through a variety of in-park activities that are designed to introduce them to the national park system and cultivate future generations of park stewards. While become a Junior Cave Scientist, students will explore a fascinating and fragile underground world, learn about the values of caves and karst landscapes, and complete fun educational activities.



Aquifer Education
From Edwards Aquifer Authority
Check out the education resources from the Edwards Aquifer Authority in Texas.

Ice Caves of Lake Superior
From Into the Outdoors
When winters become especially cold, ice can fill caves along lakes and seashores and create a place begging to be explored. Watch the Serious Science video to discover nature's secrets about these fascinating features.  An elementary lesson plan introduces students to the characteristics of rocks using various observational techniques.  A high school lesson plan integrates an understanding of the geologic processes that resulted in the formation of the Great Lakes.

Lessons from National Groundwater Association
Lesson plans are available about water in general, groundwater, aquifers (for middle and high school levels), and wetlands.

Mammoth Cave Curriculum Materials
From the National Park Service
These lesson plans from the Mammoth Cave national park help students conceptualize how caves are created, learn about national parks, and more.

Project Underground
Project Underground is a source of interdisciplinary instructional activities, and its staff conducts workshops and in-service training programs. These materials and workshops are designed for classroom teachers, cavern, park, museum, and nature center staff, or any youth-oriented group leaders.For more information on holding a workshop about the curriculum, contact: Carol Zokaites, National Coordinator of Project Underground; 540-382-5437; or czokaite@vt.edu.


GRADES 3 - 5

From Scholastic
Cave Animals: http://teacher.scholastic.com/lessonrepro/lessonplans/theme/caves05.htm
Animals use caves in different ways. 

Caves in the United States: http://teacher.scholastic.com/lessonrepro/lessonplans/theme/caves03.htm
There are thousands of caves in the United States, including a number of spectacular proportions. Mammoth Cave, in Kentucky, has over 300 miles of passageways. Carlsbad Caverns, in New Mexico, has a cavern that is the size of eight football fields.

Introduction: The Science of Caves: http://teacher.scholastic.com/lessonrepro/lessonplans/theme/caves01.htm

Sea Caves: http://teacher.scholastic.com/lessonrepro/lessonplans/theme/caves04.htm
Sea caves were formed by waves crashing against rocky coastline or coral reefs. Waves can hit sea cliffs with blows averaging several hundred pounds per square inch, which erode the soil and rock, and after many years create sea caves. 

More Than Skin Deep: A Teacher’s Guide to Caves and Groundwater
From the National Park Service
Check out this web page for links to lessons about bats, making a cave, groundwater, cave formation, and stalactites.


GRADES 3 – 12

Brain Power
From Luray Caverns
Check out eight lesson plans about caves and karst.

Caves and Karst
From PBS Learning Media
This interactive web site depicts caves and other karst features and includes videos about cave formation. 


GRADES 4 – 8

Amazing Caves!
From Noelle Grunwalk, University of Minnesota – Duluth
Check out 14 lessons plans from the basics (introducing students to caves) to learning about cave critters.

Dye Tracing
From the National Park Service
Students learn how the source of water can be traced through a cave and then can discuss the effect that polluted water could have on a cave.

From Squire Boone Caverns
While these lessons refer to Squire Boone Caverns in Indiana, the unit is applicable for all caves.  Students will learn to identify the different types of caves and speleothems and how limestone dissolve and speleothems grow.

Indiana Bats, Kids & Caves – Oh My!: An Activity Book for Teachers
From the Education Department of Evansville’s Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden
This curriculum offers a wide range of activities about bats, karst topography, and caves.


GRADES 6 – 10

Sinkholes in a Cup
From Earth Science Week
Sinkholes are natural depressions in the land caused when limestone and soils dissolve. They form when groundwater removes rock underground. They can form by slow gradual sinking or by sudden collapse of an underlying hole.


GRADES 5 – 12

Material for Teachers
From the National Caves Association
Check out lessons plans about bats, cavern geology, cavern life, and people and caverns.

The Mysterious Life of Caves
From PBS
Students will understand that microorganisms can survive in many different environments and that microorganisms live in places where conditions are suitable for their growth.


Luray Caverns USDA Forest Service Prince William Network Cave Research Foundation National Speleological Society Cave Conservancy of the Virginias Cave Conservancy Foundation Indiana Karst Conservancy National Cave & Karst Program, United States Forest Service National Cave and Karst Research Institute National Caves Association Natural Inquirer Project Underground Under Earth Images National Park Service FSNatureLIVE: Distance Learning Adventures Crawford Hydrology Laboratory