Winter Ecology Field Trip (Grades 1 to 2)

Students in snowshoes follow a ranger through the forest.
Strap on snowshoes and join a ranger

NPS/Shepherd Waldenberger

Winter in Glacier National Park a special time of year when animals must make changes just like humans.

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 and snow characteristics. The park provides all the snowshoes for students and chaperones free of charge.

Grades: 1–2
Locations: Apgar Village and St. Mary
Duration: 4.5 hours, view our Winter Ecology Field Trip Schedule to see a basic outline for the day
Group Size: 46 students, 2 groups of 23 students
Skills: Observe, compare and contrast, identify, classify
National and State Standards:
Montana State Science Standard:
MT. SCI. 1st Grade 1.6.1. Discuss seasonal changes related to lifestyle

Next Generation Science Standard:
1.LS.1 Use materials to design a solution to human problems by mimicking how plants and/or animals use their external parts to help them survive, grow and meet their needs.



(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.


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 Preparing for Your 1st-2nd Grade Winter Field Trip packet (pdf)

Our SmartBoard Lessons are a great tool to supplement the preparations for your trip.

Suggested activities and supplementary materials:

Last updated: April 13, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936


(406) 888-7800

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