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4 Supplemental School Lessons for Your Visit to the Smokies


Children Learning

Whip out those writing supplies because homeschooling is in session in Haywood County! Whether you’re a home school student or you’ve decided to go virtual, our mountains are full of rich hands-on lessons for non-traditional learning students. There are several unique and exciting tidbits to learn about our area that we are itching to share. If you consider yourself a science fanatic or a history buff, knowing these facts will turn you into a Haywood hometown scholar. Check out our lesson plans below.

Haywood History 101

Lesson 1: Appalachian Heritage

We pride ourselves on a rich Appalachian heritage in the Smokies. Our time-honored traditions are rooted in a southern appreciation for family, friends, and the awe-inspiring mountains that surround us. Explore the places of Haywood’s past at historical buildings like The Shook House or Canton’s Paper Mill. If you’re looking for a lesson that will get you on your feet, follow along with Haywood County’s quilt trails. Displayed on buildings throughout the community, these patchwork creations represent a much-loved symbol of comfort, family, heritage, and community.  Don’t forget to broaden your art history by stopping by the Colonial Theatre. This beauty was a focal point in the town’s social life in the 1960s. The theatre continues to thrive with festivals and productions even today, though recently they’ve shifted to virtual!

Lesson 2: (Re)-Introducing the Elk

Considered to be one of our most famous group of locals, the Cataloochee elk are a big part of what makes Haywood County so unique. These gentle giants were once plentiful throughout the US in the 1800s, but habitat loss and over-hunting eliminated eastern herds. With help of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and other partners, 52 elk were brought from the Tennessee-Kentucky border and released in the National Park and the Cataloochee Valley in 2001. But my have they grown! You can now see them and their herd of over 150 elk right here in Haywood County. That’s one (or 150) piece(s) of history you won’t see anywhere “elks.”


Science in the Smokies

Lesson 1: Salamander Capital

As we mentioned above, our elk are pretty special to us here in the smokies. However, did you know we are famous for a completely different species too? The Great Smoky Mountains are considered the salamander capital of the world. Yes, you heard us right! With over 30 species of salamanders, you could spend all day looking for these slippery fellows. To help identify which species of salamanders you can see during your next trip, use the National Park Service’s amphibian checklist. Don’t forget to bring your camera to show off any cool salamanders you find. Share them with us on social using #VisitNCSmokies too (shameless plug)!

Lesson 2: Natural Rainforest

The beautiful haze of the Smoky Mountains and the lush forests’ liveliness are hard to miss, but what you might not know is the forests are world-renowned for their biological diversity. There are actually five forest types within the park that support over 1,000 species of flowering plants. The Appalachian Mountains themselves have some pretty impressive facts. They are among the oldest in the world and were formed by millions of years of deposited sediments becoming hard rock layers. When it comes to the weather forecast, the forest’s abundant rainfall and high humidity provide superb growing conditions. This makes it a great talking point for learning about the water process!

Whether you are a student or a student at heart, Haywood has countless opportunities to learn. Come embrace unusual with us in the NC Smokies.

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