1. Discuss wildlife and the protected places wildlife can be found.
Ask students what animals they have seen, heard, or heard about that are living in the wild near their community. Ask: Where are these animals? In a backyard, park, or other protected place? Explain that people often create places where wild animals can find food, water, shelter, and space—things animals need to survive. These places are wilderness areas, parks, preserves, and often backyards. Ask: Why do you think people want these places to be protected?

2. Discuss what it means to protect land.
Tell students that protected land is an area of land that has been legally set aside so it can be kept safe from harm. Have students brainstorm what things might be protected in a protected land area, such as animal life, plant life, natural resources, and cultural resources. Invite volunteers to identify at least one piece of protected land in your local area, such as a park, and describe what is protected in that specific place.

3. Discuss why people protect certain land areas.
Discuss with students why it’s important to protect certain land areas. Elicit responses from students such as:

  • to keep places looking beautiful
  • to keep humans from building on land or harming it
  • to protect natural resources such as water and plants
  • to provide food, water, shelter, and space for wildlife

4. Have students brainstorm what information about protected lands or animals might be useful on a map.
Explain to students that sometimes reading information in a chart or text is helpful. But if the chart or text includes places, it can be even more useful to read the information on a map. Ask students to brainstorm what types of information about protected lands or animals they might want to see on a map. Prompt them to think of possibilities such as where certain animals live and their ranges, or how far they move.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • describe wildlife and examples of protected lands in their local area
  • explain what protected land areas are and why people protect them
  • identify types of information about protected lands and animals that are useful on a map

Teaching Approach

  • Learning-for-use

Teaching Methods

  • Brainstorming
  • Discussions

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

National Geography Standards

  • Standard 3:  How to analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments on Earth's surface

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Pens

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Optional

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Large-group instruction

Background Information

A protected land area is an area designated as important and protected because of its biological diversity and natural or cultural resources. The level of protection varies. Examples of protected land areas include nature reserves, wilderness areas, national parks, and natural monuments. Protected land areas face threats such as pollution, climate change, and the human impact of tourism or development.

Prior Knowledge

  • None

Recommended Prior Activities

  • None


protected land area

area where development projects are controlled or limited.