Discover what it’s like to live in—not just visit—two of the world’s great wildlife parks. Charlie Hamilton James has been shooting in Peru’s Manú National Park—the most biodiverse place on Earth—for more than two decades. More recently, James has been living in Yellowstone, America’s original wildlife park, in preparation for the 2016 centennial of the National Park Service. For a forthcoming National Geographic story, he has gone beyond the park’s boundaries, investigating the larger ecosystem that Yellowstone supports. Join this critically acclaimed photojournalist as he recounts his unlikely journey from the Peruvian rain forest to the mountain landscapes of Yellowstone.

Use the resources in this collection to prepare your students for their upcoming National Geographic Live student matinee experience. Use the "before the show" ideas to introduce students to Charlie Hamilton James and the topics (biodiversity, ecosystems, rain forests) that he will discuss during the show. Use the "after the show" ideas to extend the learning after the event has ended.

Before the Show

  • Have students review Charlie Hamilton James’s biography.

  • Download and print the provided maps of Peru and Yellowstone or use the MapMaker Interactive to explore the areas where Charlie Hamilton James works. 

  • Have students read the conservation encyclopedic entry. Lead a class discussion about conserving resources. After reading, ask: What resources do you interact with in your daily lives? What do you do to conserve them? Invite students to create a classroom conservation checklist with easy things they can do every day at home or in the classroom.        

  • Familiarize students with some of the concepts and ecosystems that the speaker will describe. Have them read the provided rain forest and biodiversity encyclopedic entries.

  • Provide each student with a KWL Chart. Introduce the I Bought a Rain Forest program they will attend, Charlie Hamilton James, and a brief description of rain forests and conservation. Have students fill out the What I Know and What I Want to Know columns of the KWL Chart. Have them fill out the What I Learned column after the show.

  • Use the graphic organizer collection to select a graphic organizer to help your students organize their questions and new knowledge before, during, and after the program. For example:

    • Download and print the T Chart. Have students label the left column with Questions I Have and the right column with Answers and then conduct research about the speaker and speaker topic ahead of the program. Have students record answers to their questions during or after the program. Have students conduct research to complete any unanswered questions for homework.

    • Download and print the provided Five Ws Chart. Have each student bring their copy to the matinee program and take notes.

After the Show

  • Use the Explorer Comparisons worksheet and have a class discussion to help students make connections between themselves and Charlie Hamilton James. Distribute the worksheet to students before the presentation and review the directions with them. Review any terms that they are unfamiliar with. After the presentation, have students share the notes that they took during the show. Have a class discussion about attitudes and skills and how students demonstrate them in their everyday lives. Have students record their personal examples on the worksheet.

  • Review the continents, countries, or areas that the speaker presented. Ask: What continents, countries, or areas does the speaker work in? Have younger students imagine that these places were characters in the stories that Charlie Hamilton James shared. Ask: What role did place play in Charlie Hamilton James’s story? Why was location important to the story? How did the characteristics of the place influence the story?

  • Discuss and define any unfamiliar terminology that was used. Ask: What vocabulary words did Charlie Hamilton James use that were new to you? Invite volunteers to write the words on the board, and have the class define them as a group using information they learned from the speaker or through research. If desired, have students record unfamiliar terminology during the show on one half of a T Chart. Then, have them write the definitions on the other side following this class discussion.

  • Have a class discussion about the attitudes National Geographic explorers embody. Ask: What attitudes did Charlie Hamilton James talk about today? In what ways does Charlie Hamilton James demonstrate curiosity, responsibility, empowerment, and persistence in his work? Why do you think these attitudes are important for explorers? Students can use their Five Ws Chart for reference and a graphic organizer to organize their ideas.

  • Have a whole-class brainstorm on how students can make changes or support Charlie Hamilton Jame’s work. Ask: What, if any, call to action did the Charlie ask you to make? How can you implement any changes in your day-to-day life? What can we work on together as a group?


all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.


management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.


community and interactions of living and nonliving things in an area.

national park

geographic area protected by the national government of a country.


to maintain and keep safe from damage.


area of tall, mostly evergreen trees and a high amount of rainfall.

Yellowstone National Park

large national park in the U.S. states of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.