Field Trips

Winter Ecology Field Trip (Grades 1-2)

Second graders on a winter field trip in Glacier
Second Graders on a winter field trip in Glacier


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Students will conduct a simple snow experiment, create a group model showing the influence of the sun on the earth and why we have seasons, view a puppet show of how animals in Glacier survive winter, and take a short snowshoe hike to a beaver lodge with stops to investigate animal signs & snow characteristics. The park provides all the snowshoes for students and chaperones free of charge. View our Winter Ecology Field Trip Schedule to see a basic outline for the day.

Glacier National Park protects habitat for plants and animals and preserves natural processes such as seasonal changes. Glacier also provides an undisturbed location to study winter ecology - the interrelationships of living things with their environment during winter.

Grade Levels: 1st-2nd
Skills: Observe, compare and contrast, identify, classify
Duration: 4.5 hours
Group Size: 46 students, 2 groups of 23 students
Locations: Apgar Village and St. Mary

Objectives (depending on grade level and weather conditions):
Students will be able to:

  • View the national park service symbol and tell some of the things national parks protect.
  • Categorize animals as "wild" or "domesticated" and give examples of which kind live in Glacier National Park.
  • Describe, draw or act out, the 3 strategies animals use to survive winter (hibernate, migrate, or resist).
  • Give one reason winter is harder for animals than summer.
  • Describe the relationship between the sun, heat, light, energy, and food.
  • Classify pictures of Glacier animals into groups according to which adaptation they use to survive winter: migration, hibernation, or resistance.
  • Predict how the shape and volume of snow in a cup will change when brought indoors.
  • Describe one way that water changing from a liquid to solid (or solid to liquid) could help a wild animal, and a way it could hurt a wild animal.
  • Dress appropriately for and hike on snowshoes in Glacier National Park.
  • Follow safety procedures for a snowshoe hike in Glacier National Park.
  • Recognize signs of animal activity or tracks along the trail.
  • Feel an evergreen tree branch and role play what happens to the branch when snow collects on the tree.
  • Describe (or draw) an outside activity that includes one way a tree or a plant might change in winter.
  • Use their body to try to increase heat (by running, huddling, putting on more insulation).
  • Search for snowshoe hares with white fur and with brown fur, then state which kind is easier to find in the snow and how changing color could help the snowshoe hares through the seasons.
  • Correctly measure, compare, and explain the existence of varying snow depths at different points along the trail. Discuss how snow can help or hurt different animals in winter.
  • Compare sliding in the snow with walking/snowshoeing and decide which uses less energy (is easier).

Field Trip Logistics: Maximum group size for snowshoe hikes is 46 students. Students will stay together as one class for the introductory and closing activities. Large groups will be divided into 2 smaller groups (23 students each) for the ranger-led hikes, with one ranger leading each group.

Request a field trip with this on-line reservation form. Make sure to read through our Guidelines for your Trip to be well-equipped to have an enjoyable experience.

These pre- and post-visit activities provide lessons and materials to prepare students for their Glacier field trip!


Glacier's Education Specialist


Biology: Animals, Biology: Plants, Ecology, Science and Technology, Wildlife Biology
National/State Standards:
MT Content and Performance Standards
Science Standard 1: scientific investigations...
Science Standard 3: ...demonstrate knowledge of how living organisms interact with each other...
Field Trips