Designing a Park Lesson Plan

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

With this lesson plan, your students are going to explore public parks from an academic and design-oriented standpoint before applying their observations to their own park design.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Appreciate the diverse functions of a public park
  • Critically engage other students in the functions and elements of park design
  • Apply personal observations and group discussion to an individual design


45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information so that each new element builds on that which precedes it to create a unified whole; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.


Develop the topic thoroughly by selecting the most significant and relevant facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience's knowledge of the topic.


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


  • Paper and writing utensil
  • Access to a public park or the Internet


  • Ask students to think about the public parks they have been to. Discuss the following:
    • What is the purpose of a public park?
    • What sort of things do we expect to find in a park?
    • What is the relationship between things in a park?

Field Trip

  • Take the class to a local, public park.
    • If this is not realistic, you can modify this section of the lesson by giving students time to research famous parks on the Internet
  • Ask students to bring a writing utensil and paper, and walk around the park independently reflecting on the following. Encourage them to make rough sketches of the park as they explore it.
    • What sort of things do you see in this park?
    • What is the relationship between things in this park?
    • How is space distributed in this park?
    • How much of the park is natural? How much is curated? How much is artificial?
    • How are people using various spaces in this park?
  • Come back together as a class. Discuss students' impressions of the park.
    • What did you observe?
    • How did the designers of this park use space in different ways?
    • How are people using this park?
    • How does the design of this park influence the ways that people interact?
    • Did your observations change the way you think about parks, and did anything in your observation surprise you?

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