Distance Learning

What Would You Do: Winter Wildlife

Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade

What adaptations are needed for the animals of Denali National Park and Preserve to make it through our long, cold, subarctic winters? This program illuminates the many amazing adaptations that allow the animals here to not only survive but thrive! It also makes connections between adaptation strategies that work in the subarctic and those that are relevant for animals closer to the students’ homes.

Program Length and Grade Range

This 50-minute program is designed for students in grades 3–5.

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.

What Would You Do: Winter Wildlife—Teacher's Guide

Program Objectives

Students will:

  1. Learn that animals must be adapted to their environment in order to survive.
  2. Learn about the three main strategies that animals use to survive the subarctic winter in Denali: hibernation, migration, and tolerating the conditions.
  3. Discover how animals such as grizzly bears, arctic ground squirrels, wood frogs, caribou, ptarmigan, voles, and golden eagles use these strategies to survive in Denali.
  4. Discuss how and why the adaptations of the animals in Denali may be different than the adaptations of animals where the students live. 

Next Generation Science Standards Addressed

  • 3-LS4-3, 4-LS1-1

Vocabulary and Concepts Covered

  • Denali National Park and Preserve, ecosystem, subarctic environment, tundra, taiga, adaptation, hibernation, migration, mammal, amphibian, subnivean, insulation

Before the Distance Learning Program

  • Assign or read aloud the Wildlife of Denali student reading and the Denali Overview for Students.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • Draw an imaginary animal that would be wonderfully adapted to survive winter in Denali. Feel free to mix and match adaptations that you learned about to create the ultimate winter survivor! Decide if your animal hibernates, migrates, or tolerates, then draw lines to each adaptation and describe how it will help with your chosen strategy.

Last updated: November 17, 2021