Pathways to Discovery

brilliantly blue pool of water surrounded by ice, a snowy mountain in the distance
The beauty and scope of Wrangell-St. Elias is unparalleled.

NPS Photo

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The lessons included in this guide will help introduce and encourage the students to enjoy and utilize the visitors’ center, exhibit room, hiking trail through the boreal forest and the surrounding complex. Our goal is to provide usable ideas that will help further environmental education. Although the lessons were written specifically for use at the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve Visitors’ Center area, they can be easily adapted for use in other places.

The individual units encourage the development of a student’s awareness and appreciation of the natural world and people’s relationship and role as a part of that natural world. The units are actually a series of shorter activities that have been blended together under a specific theme with the intent that the activities will be coordinated with units in the existing school curriculum and texts. The materials are organized by grade level, but can actually be adapted for use at any grade level. The time for each activity is listed. Worksheets and other printed materials needed for activities are included.

Many activities within this guide were borrowed from other sources. The bibliography serves as a reference list for good environmental education materials and includes the sources from which the activities and lessons came. This guide does not represent our original ideas; we have tried to take the best environmental education activities and adapt them to specific lessons and objectives. We encourage you to modify what you find here to meet your specific situation and needs.

Additional Resources

In addition to the full packet available here, we have also made available select activities from the curricula for easy use as stand-alone lessons. The materials can be adapted for use at any grade level.

  • Basics of Habitat - In this lesson, students think about essential survival needs 
  • Forest Exploration - In this lesson, students learn about the types of small creatures that live in a forest habitat. 
  • Wetlands Exploration - In this lesson, students discover, observe and learn about the types of small creatures that live in a wetlands habitat. 
  • Field Exploration - In this lesson, students learn about the types of small creatures that live in a field habitat. 
  • Muir's Trees and Writing Activity - In this lesson, students take part in a writing activity which allows them to reflect on some of their thoughts about trees. 
  • "Scent"sations - In this lesson, students learn how insects find one another using their sense of smell through smelling activity. 
  • Oh, Moose! - In this lesson, students learn about ecology by playing a game mimicking the life of moose. 
  • Creature Meeting - In this lesson, students observe creatures closely to learn how they use their surroundings. 
  • Bat and Moth - In this lesson, students learn about the bat’s “niche” in an ecosystem by playing the part of these little critters.


Biology: Animals, Biology: Plants, Ecology, Wilderness, Wildlife Biology
National/State Standards:
Alaska State Standards:
Science A12, A14, A15; B1, B2, B3; D1, D2
English & Language Arts B3
Mathematics C1, C2, C3; E2, E3
biology, moose, forests, subarctic, bears, habitat, alaska, wilderness

Last updated: April 14, 2015