Photo Credit: Frank Kovalchek

Secondary Curriculum

Alaska Studies Curriculum

The KMTA curriculum was supported by a generous grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum.

The KMTA curriculum was supported by a generous grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum.

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It can be challenging to find an engaging, relevant curriculum that offers standards-based, problem-driven learning. The goal of the Trails Across Time curriculum is to meet that challenge while exploring the wonders of the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area.

Trails Across Time curriculum recognizes that much of Alaska’s history is recent and can still be found in the remains of old cabins and in the stories of our elders. These lessons ask students to look around them – to observe the landscape and culture that they may take for granted – and discover the story etched there. While the curriculum is an easy choice for Alaska Studies teachers in south central Alaska, the skills and ideas taught in these lessons can easily be adapted for every corner of the state. It is also an excellent resource for charter and home schools.

Lessons are explicitly tied to state content standards. Furthermore, each lesson gives students a story, a clue, or a mystery to puzzle through. This curriculum is an invitation for students to investigate, problem-solve, and explore.

We hope this resource is a help to you and an inspiration to your students. After using this resource, we encourage you to mail or email the completed survey at the end of this guide. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Full Curriculum (large file)


Reader’s Guide to Trails Across Time

Download Reading Guide (.pdf)



Download Introduction (.pdf)


LESSON 1: Silent, Yet Restless Earth:  Defining the Corridors

Uses computer enhanced mapping skills to connect geology to human activity/development.

Download full lesson (.pdf)


LESSON 2: The Early People of the Corridor:  Connecting to the Past

Emphasizes the importance of “listening to the stories” when interpreting history.

 Download full lesson (.pdf)


LESSON 3: The Early People: The Russian River Salmon Question

Brings together archaeology, geology, glaciation, and a decent day fishing on the Russian.

Download full lesson (.pdf)


LESSON 4: In Search of the Northwest Passage:  A Glimpse Into the Life of Sailor

Uses internet to follow question-led research.

Download full lesson (.pdf)


LESSON 5: Russian America:  Interpreting Primary Source Information

Maintains research objectivity while researching translated primary sourced documents.

Download full lesson (.pdf)


LESSON 6: Hope and Sunrise:  A Tale of Two Cities:  Part One

Examines data and maps to evaluate why Hope survives while Sunrise faded away.

Download full lesson, parts 1 and 2(.pdf)


LESSON 7: Hope, Alaska:  A Tale of One City: Part Two

Utilizes demographic data to assess evolution of a community across time.


LESSON 8: Alaska Nellie:  A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Interprets photographs to decipher a historic story.

Download full lesson (.pdf)


LESSON 9: Byways And Highways:  The Missing Link – The Living Source

Interviews a living source to collaborate research findings.

Download full lesson (.pdf)


LESSON 10 Research:  Now It’s Your Turn

Final suggestions and structures to implement your own primary sourced research project

Download full lesson (.pdf)


Exploring the Corridor:  Selected Field Trip Stops

These suggested field sites are just a sampling of the opportunities available to experience the history, the geology, and the archaeology of the Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area.  Perhaps you have a special site that you would recommend for school groups.

Download full lesson (.pdf)



Here is a blank form to use to describe your site.  These can be submitted to KMTA for addition to the web-based version of this curriculum.

There are several important things to consider when sharing a potential field study site:

Public Access:  Is the site legally accessible for the public?

Accessibility:  Site must be bus accessible for parking.  If site requires a walk, it should be noted including the difficulty for student access.

Site Location:  Provide careful directions including landmarks that will help others find the site.

Safety— for student and resource:  Student safety is paramount.  So is safety for the resource. To create this curriculum, several sites were considered and then discarded solely on the basis of student safety and the fragility of the resource.

Instructional Strategy:  Suggest possible instructional strategies that a teacher might utilize if they visit the site.

Fact Checking:  Provide enough information (making sure it is accurate) so that the site can be fully interpreted.

Supplemental Resources:  Include other resources that might be helpful in understanding the site.


Bibliography and Resources