Thomas Yellowstone Moran

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Westward Expansion, National Parks, Geography

Science – Landforms

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Thomas Yellowstone Moran, William Henry

Painting, Photography, Landscapes, Foreground, Middle Ground, Background, Commercial Art (Posters)


Thomas Moran’s  “The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone”

Did you know that July is National Parks and Recreation Month? I just found out myself.  What timing because, in today’s post, I’m talking about the Yellowstone Park and how it came about. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll recall that Peter Max, a famous 70s Pop artist, helped save the Statue of Liberty. It just so happens that, Thomas Moran’s paintings and William Henry’s photographs of the Yellowstone area helped convince Congress to establish this area as a national park. Go Artists!!! You can find a more detailed explanation, some good questions and project ideas here:

And here:

Moran was very proud of his Yellowstone accomplishment. So much so, that he began calling himself Thomas Yellowstone Moran. Check out Moran’s signature at the following site. Can you find the T, Y, M and arrow incorporated into the first letter of his signature?

A kid friendly version of the Yellowstone story can be found here:

Look here for some examples of Moran’s paintings:

Moran’s paintings are landscapes. How about plugging Moran’s work into this GREAT landscape lesson?

Integrate geography by finding Yellowstone on this map:

For a science lesson, how about using Moran’s paintings to identify as many different kinds of landforms as you can?  I saw mountains, valleys, waterfalls, canyons, ponds and rivers. Can you find any more?

Students might make their own landscapes with torn paper:

 or magazine collage:

or watercolor:

I hear that teachers in a nearby school make Yellowstone Park posters as a culminating experience for their National Parks unit. They might find the poster making suggestions at this site helpful:

Find some examples of historic posters in this lesson plan:

You are probably saying, “That’s a lot of information!” And you would be right! Pick and choose what works for you.


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