Distance Learning

At Home in Denali's Biome

Grade Level:
Lower Elementary: Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade

What is it about Denali’s climate and geography that make it so special . . . and so fun to explore?  As students learn about winter and summer in Denali, they will be challenged to compare and contrast Denali’s subarctic biomes to their own home. Through motion and play, we’ll discover how trees and animals survive in Denali year-round, and explore a sampling of the ways humans interact with Denali’s varied landscape and terrain. 

Program Length and Grade Range

This 30-minute program is designed for students in grades K–2.

How to Participate

Denali's Distance Learning programs are a fun and interactive way for our education rangers to visit your classroom for free!

Our Distance Learning presentations are available from November 1 through March 31 annually (with breaks around some major holidays). Registration begins on October 15th annually. Spaces are limited and registration is handled on a first-come, first-served basis.

You will find the link to our Distance Learning Registration Form on Denali's Distance Learning homepage.

At Home in Denali's Biome—Teacher's Guide

Program Objectives

Students will:

  1. Think about natural patterns that they observe in their home environment and how they compare to Denali’s (e.g. length of seasons, daily distribution of light and dark, temperature, kinds of clothes humans wear to be comfortable in different seasons);
  2. Describe the form or function of at least one living thing in Denali, and how that form or function is helpful to the organism’s habitat (i.e. Denali); and
  3. Compare and contrast human activity in Denali and their home.

Next Generation Science Standards Addressed

  • K-ESS2-1: Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time.

  • K-LS1-1: Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.

  • 1-ESS1-2: Make observations at different times of year to relate the amount of daylight to the time of year.

  • 2-LS4-1: Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

  • W.2.8: Recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.

Vocabulary and Concepts Covered

  • Tundra – a northern biome with small, low plants adapted to the cold and wind and very few trees

  • Taiga (pronounced: TIE-ga) – a northern forest biome. In Denali, the taiga forest has spruce and aspen trees.

  • Subsistence – a lifestyle or practice of finding food from nature

  • Sediment – little pieces of soil, like sand and silt

  • Braided River – a river with many criss-crossing stream channels, like braids in hair

  • Musher – the human who drives a team of sled dogs

Before the Distance Learning Program

  • We love chatting with students about Denali! Encourage your learners to think of questions to ask the ranger. We usually have time at the end of a program to answer questions, and we're happy to answer overflow questions via e-mail. 

  • Make sure you have a Zoom link at least a week ahead of time. 

  • Ask students to think about their own climate, habitat, and biome.  

    • Kindergarten: Think of clues that help you notice what season it is where you live. Fold a piece of paper into four parts. Label each quarter with the name of a season, and draw the clues that you notice. What is the weather like in each season? Do plants and animals give any clues? What do people wear in each season? 

    • Grade 1: What patterns do you notice about light and dark where you live? What kinds of things do you see in the sky when it is light and dark? What do kids do where you live when it is light and dark? Now think about Alaska and Denali. What might it be like there? What do you know about Alaska or Denali? How do you think Denali might be the same or different from nature where you live?  

    • Grade 2: What are some ways that you would describe the climate where you live? Are there challenges that plants and animals have because of that climate? Do humans face any challenges? Now think about Alaska and Denali. What might it be like there? What do you know about Alaska or Denali? How do you think Denali’s climate might be the same or different from yours?

During the Distance Learning Program

  • Materials needed: None! Make sure there’s lots of room for each person to wiggle and move.

  • The teacher is responsible for classroom management during the program. This includes calling on students throughout the program and helping to ensure that their answers and comments are understood by all. The teacher is also responsible for facilitating questions at the end of the program.

After the Distance Learning Program

  • Email us your questions, feedback, or an evaluation form. We love hearing ways that we can continue to improve our programs!

  • Post-activity suggestions:

    • Kindergarten: Fold a piece of paper in half. Draw a picture of yourself living in Denali in the winter and in the summer. What would you wear? What might you notice? Share your picture with someone, and help them know what it would be like to be in Denali in the winter and summer. What would you do for fun together? 

    • Grade 1: As a class: Analyze and discuss the sunlight patterns in your hometown within each month. Is it light or dark when you wake up? Draw a moon if it is dark, and a sun if it is light. What patterns do you notice about your day? Look at the boxes that kids in Denali drew, below. What patterns do you notice about their day? Would you rather live in your hometown or Denali? Why?

        January February March April May June July August September October November December
      Wake Up
      Go to Bed
    • Grade 2: Draw a Venn diagram showing how Denali and your home are similar and different. Think about things like the climate, challenges faced by living things, the kinds of landscapes you might find, and fun things to do. Draw a triangle around the thing you would like the most about living in Denali. Share your diagram with someone, and help them know what it would be like to be in Denali. What things do you think you would like the most about being in Denali together?

Last updated: November 17, 2021