The National Mall

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11845

Do you have a park in your town? Maybe it's a playground or dog park or skate park. Does it have museums, monuments, and memorials? Check out the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for all of those!


United States

learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5), Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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What do you think of when you hear the word, "Mall"? Do you think of shopping and hanging out and food courts? Discover the National Mall in Washington, D.C., which is not quite what you might think! No credit card needed!

The capital of the United States is Washington, D.C., formally known as the District of Columbia and the City of Washington.

Look at Washington, D.C., on the map. Describe its relative location to your teacher or parent. What states surround it? How close is it to you?

Washington, D.C.

Image by TUBS, via Wikimedia Commons, is licensed under the CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported license.

Washington, D.C., is a small section of land sandwiched between the states of Maryland and Virginia.

In 1790, the Residence Act was passed, making this portion of land the capital of the nation. Previously, the capital did not have a permanent home, having moved from Philadelphia to Annapolis, then to New York City. Maryland and Virginia both agreed to donate land from their states to form this federal district.

In 1791, the location was given the name, "The City of Washington," in honor of President George Washington. It is important to remember that Washington, D.C., is not a state because, as part of the federal government, it belongs to all the states. Rather, the region is referred to as a district and a city.

In Washington, D.C., there are many important museums, monuments, and buildings that tell the history of the United States and its involvement in global affairs. Most of these places are located on and around the National Mall. The National Mall is not a traditional mall with stores and restaurants; rather, it is a large green space in the heart of the city where people can gather for rallies, protests, festivals, picnics, and sports. The National Mall also provides excellent walking paths in the center of a bustling city. The following images show the National Mall. Tell your teacher or parent if you recognize any of the buildings surrounding the National Mall. Why is it important to have green spaces in major cities?

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To explore the National Mall in depth, go to the National Mall and Memorial Parks website by the National Park Service.

  1. Use the icons in the upper left-hand corner of the page to zoom in and move around on the map.
  2. As you scan the map, make a list of at least five places located on and around the National Mall that you might like to visit.
  3. When you are finished, share the list you created with your teacher or parent and explain why each of these locations is of interest to you.

In the upcoming Related Lessons (right-hand sidebar) throughout this series, Let's Explore Washington, D.C.!, we will take virtual field trips to many of the places on your list.

Before you begin virtually visiting some of these other significant sites, let's continue learning about the National Mall and its role in the daily life of Washington, D.C. Move on to the Got It? section to learn more about the uses of the National Mall and some of the important sites that surround it.

Consider exploring the Elephango lesson in the right-hand sidebar under Additional Resources to learn more about the president mentioned in this lesson.

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