Field Trips

Winter Ecology Field Trip (Grades 3-5)

Third graders on a winter field trip in Glacier
Third graders on a winter field trip in Glacier


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Students will explore the physical properties of snow completing tasks at snow stations. They will then investigate how those physical properties impact organisms in winter by participating in a snowshoe hike. 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.

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:

  • Tell what national parks protect and one reason Glacier National Park was established.
  • Assemble a puzzle-map of the Crown of the Continent Ecosystem and explain why it is important that neighbors work together toward shared goals.
  • Hike independently on snowshoes, while following safety procedures for a snowshoe hike in Glacier National Park.
  • Describe, draw or act out, the 3 strategies animals use to survive winter.
  • Correctly point to or touch an evergreen tree and a deciduous tree.
  • Describe (or draw) an outside activity that includes one way a tree or a plant might change in winter. v Classify pictures of Glacier animals into groups according to which adaptation they use to survive winter: migration, hibernation, or resistance.
  • Organize animal pictures by whether they are predators or prey and build a Glacier food chain and web.
  • Correctly identify living and non-living objects on the snowshoe hike and give an example of a cause and effect relationship between them.
  • Relate the basic needs animals must have in their habitats to why there are endangered and threatened species in Glacier National Park.
  • Predict if/how the mass and volume of snow will change when brought indoors.
  • Use their body to increase heat (running, huddling, putting on more insulation).
  • Describe the relationship between the sun, heat, light, energy, and food.
  • Correctly measure and explain the existence of varying snow depths at different points along the trail.
  • Measure and compare temperatures at different depths in the snow or at different places along the trail.
  • Examine layers of snow, describe the differences, and infer what caused the layers.
  • Explain the importance of snow as a natural resource and its role in the water cycle.
  • Participate in stations to measure and record snow characteristics.
  • Name the snow structure that has been used by different cultures as a temporary shelter (quinzhee), describe how to build it, and explain why it is warmer inside than outside one.

Field Trip Logistics: Maximum group size for snowshoe hikes is 40 students. Students will stay together as one group for the introductory and closing activities. Large groups will be divided into 2 smaller groups (one class 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 lessons provide activities and materials to prepare students for their Glacier field trip!


Glacier's Education Specialist


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