Sensory Exploration Field Trip

Little boy in wool cap holds magnifying lens and lichen up to his eye
Looking at lichen


This is a half-day program on sensory exploration and making observations of natural items. All activities should focus on helping the students think about answering the question “What are ‘senses’ and how do they help me and other living things to survive?” The students will practice using their senses out in nature or with natural objects to make observations and realize that this is a key way for people to learn—the main way that Blackfeet, Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai people learned before there were books or school. They’ll also wonder at how other living things have different senses (sometimes much better!) than ours.

Grade: Kindergarten
Location: Apgar Village or St. Mary
Duration: 3 hours, view our Sensory Exploration Field Trip Schedule to see a basic outline for the day
Group Size: 40 students total, 2 groups of 20 students
Skills: Observe (using all senses), sort/classify, compare & contrast, match, count, communicate findings
Vocabulary: Senses: sight, taste, touch, smell, sound; living/non-living; nature; mountains, valleys, lakes, rivers; animals, plants
Essential Questions:

  • How do senses affect behavior?
  • Why are senses important?
  • How do senses develop?
  • How do scientists use their senses?
  • Why do we have multiple senses?
  • Why do animals “need” all of their senses?
  • Why do animals have multiple senses?
  • What would life be like without senses?

National and State Standards:
Montana State Standards:

  • MT.SCI.K-12.1 Students, through the inquiry process, demonstrate the ability to design, conduct, evaluate, and communicate results and reasonable conclusions of scientific investigations.
  • MT. SCI.K-12.2 Students, through the inquiry process, demonstrate knowledge of properties, forms, changes and interactions of physical and chemical systems.
  • MT.SCI.K-12.3 Students, through the inquiry process, demonstrate knowledge of characteristics, structures and function of living things, the process and diversity of life, and how living organisms interact with each other and their environment.
  • MT.SCI.K-12.1 K-LS-1-1 Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.

Next Generation Science Standards:
LS1.A All animals need food in order to live and grow. They obtain their food from plants or from other animals. Plants need water and light to live and grow.



These are typical objectives that can be achieved on the sensory program depending on the ranger and the teacher’s pre- and post- lesson focus.

Students will be able to:

  • Tell what all national parks protect.
  • List our 5 senses: sight, sound, taste, touch, smell; and identify the body organ associated with each sense.
  • Use all 5 senses to explore the outdoors and make observations as a “Nature Spy”.
  • Give an example of how an animal or insect in Glacier National Park uses its senses to live.
  • Give an example of how people use their senses to live.
  • Differentiate between living (eats food, grows, reproduces) and non-living things in nature.
  • Sit quietly to observe and count natural sounds in the forest.
  • Name (and possibly see) several Glacier wild animals that are found in the forest and describe why they choose this area as their home.
  • Identify examples of Montana American Indians making use of natural resources.
  • Draw a nature picture that includes things such as: mountains, lakes, animals, plants, hills, valleys, or other land and water.
  • Use their senses to observe, sort/group Glacier rocks by color, shape, size, and texture.
  • Use their senses to make observations and describe various objects found in nature.
  • Use all 5 senses to enhance their experience in the wild.

Field Trip Logistics

Teachers wishing to have their students participate in the sensory field trip must have their classes divided into groups of no more than 20 students.

For example, a bus of 40 students would be divided into 2 groups, of 18-20 students each. Each group would hike with a ranger and participate in stations at Apgar Nature Center. Everyone must be prepared to be outside for at least half the day and be ready to hike 0.75 miles on fairly level terrain.

***The ranger-guided portion of this field trip is ½ day only. Teachers may remain in the park for the rest of the day to do independent activities. Rangers will be able to suggest ideas and provide materials for activities such as coloring, leaf prints, songs, and exploring with magnifying glasses. ***


Reserve Your Trip

Visit the Scheduling & Guidelines page to find the reservation form as well as tips for a successful day in the park.

If you have questions, email or call the Education Specialist at 406-888-5837.


Preparing for Your Trip

Students that spend time preparing for their visit get more out of a field trip to the park. Activities post-visit also help to reinforce information learned during the trip.

MUST READ! Follow this specially designed Sensory Exploration Field Trip Lesson Plan (pdf)

Suggested activities and supplementary materials:

Last updated: November 10, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936


(406) 888-7800

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