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Children learning at First Peoples Buffalo Jump

Montana State Parks Education Resources

Education programs and field trip planning information for teachers.

General Field Trip Information

Students can experience Native American culture, learn about Montana’s heritage, explore natural sciences and more. Parks’ staff can assist with programs geared toward your curriculum needs.

Most field trips are only offered in the spring and fall. Please contact the park directly for more information or to reserve a date. Field trip curriculum can change over time so please check back for new field trip opportunities.

State parks are also a great place for teacher-led programs. Council Grove, Frenchtown Pond, or any of Montana's 54 parks can be utilized if teachers have a topic they would like to explore with their classes in an outdoor classroom.

 

Tips for Preparing

Be sure your students know:

  • Time and date of departure
  • Point of departure
  • Educational Objective of the field trip
  • Necessary expenses
  • Lunch Plan
  • Appropriate dress
  • Parental permission forms as required by the school
  • Rules of the teacher and the park
  • Field Trip Supplies (camera, notebook, pencils, art supplies, etc.)
Chaperones

It is important that students, whether working as a class or in small groups, have proper supervision. We recommend one adult accompany every 12 to 15 students. All chaperones should clearly understand their disciplinary duties and stay with the students during the field trip.

Discipline

Discipline is the responsibility of the teacher and chaperones. Please explain to your students that appropriate, orderly behavior is expected during their visit. Use simple rules of respect for park resources and courtesy toward each other, keeping in mind that other people will be visiting at the same time. All plants, minerals, animals, fossils and artifacts are protected by state law and should not be disturbed.

Bannack Field Trips

Contact Bannack State Park: 406 834-3413, email: dalec@mt.gov

Fur and Skull Interpretation
  • This program is intended to teach students about animals through the use of furs (hides) and skulls. It is divided into three parts that can be taught together or separately. The materials discussed are based on the inventory at the Bannack State Park Office.
  • Content Standards: TBD
  • Grade Level: K-8th
Bannack Tour
  • Park staff lead a guided walking tour of the town site, presenting a glimpse of Bannack’s past. This tour will describe how Bannack came into existence, the Montana gold rush, Native Americans, the formation of the Montana Territory, law and order, life in a primitive mining town and Bannack’s evolution from a thriving mining town into a ghost town. A special tour is available for grades K-5. We recommend this tour for all our visitors.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, science, English CC
  • Grade Level: K–12th
Gold Panning
  • Students observe a demonstration of the gold panning process then try panning gold themselves, keeping any gold they find. A simple explanation of gold deposits and some of the various minerals associated with gold and specific gravity are also discussed. This is one of our most popular activities.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, science, math CC, English CC, health
  • Grade Level: K–12th
History Search
  • This unique scavenger hunt is geared for 5th through 8th grade although we can adapt this for younger students. Students will use a worksheet and work in teams to answer questions about Bannack’s buildings, its residents and its past. Includes a creative writing component. Responsible adult chaperones MUST accompany students to assure safety and preservation.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, English CC, arts
  • Grade Level: 5th–8th
Apex Mill Tour
  • Students ride their bus to the Apex Mill for a tour. Discussion centers on Bannack’s mining history, as well as placer and lode mining concepts and techniques and mineral processing technology. Students will get an explanation of the assay procedure and the processes involved in cyanide leaching and flotation and the final smelting of the gold. How the people of Bannack prospered during the Great Depression is also discussed.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, science, math CC, English CC
  • Grade Level: 6th–12th
Cemetery Activity
  • Students ride their bus to the cemetery and then walk among the graves of Bannack’s former residents. A worksheet accompanies the tour. Much can be learned by reading the grave markers. This activity will give the students insight into the difficult lives the early inhabitants of Bannack endured.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, math CC, English CC
  • Grade Level: 6th–12th

Chief Plenty Coups Field Trips

Contact Chief Plenty Coups State Park: 406 252-1289, email: akind@mt.gov

IN-SCHOOL PROGRAMS

Chief Plenty Coups State Park offers any of our classes as in-school programs for your students. Our staff will travel to your school and present any of the standards-based, interactive class choices. Please call (406) 252-1289 for further details.

CLASSES
Life Cycles
  • Go beyond the frog or butterfly and explore some of the Park’s resident animal’s life cycles. In this science-based class, students learn about scientific observations while trying to match young animals to their prospective parent.
  • Content Standards: Science
  • Grade Level: K–3rd
Food Webs
  • From producers to consumers, students will explore the interconnectedness of the food web and see what happens when species are removed in this interactive science-based class.
  • Content Standards: Science
  • Grade Level: K–5th
Tan Your Hide
  • The buffalo was not only a source of food, it was clothing, shelter, tools and other necessities for Plains Indian peoples. Students explore traditional methods of tanning a buffalo hide as well as examining examples of new technologies brought by European and American traders.
  • Content Standards: IEFA, Social Studies, History
  • Grade Level: K–5th
Traditional Native American Games
  • Double-ball, run-and-scream, stick guessing game, and hoop-and-arrow are just a few of the popular traditional Native American games students can experience here. In the process of playing the games, students learn the history of the games, how they relate to various Montana Native peoples, and how to interact and socialize with one another. Specific activities vary depending on age level and duration of visit.
  • Content Standards: Social Studies, English CC, Health, IEFA
  • Grade Level: K–12th
Pollution Solutions
  • Water is essential to life, from the Chief’s Sacred Spring to the water you drink. This environmental education class will explore the impacts of pollution, how it enters the water cycle and the simple actions we can take to reduce water pollution.
  • Content Standards: Science, Social Studies
  • Grade Level: 3rd–8th
Symbols in Society
  • Symbols convey powerful messages and surround us every day. Students analyze different American Indian symbols from Chief Plenty Coups Ledger to Sioux Winter Count Robes. Students also explore and discuss symbols they see in everyday life.
  • Content Standards: IEFA, Social Studies, History, Art
  • Grade Level: 4th–8th
Survive with your Tribe
  • Competition or co-operation? Students work in small “tribes” to survive environmental and technological changes. This class explores group dynamics, resource management and history through the use of game pieces representing a tribe’s survival “toolbox.”
  • Content Standards: IEFA, Social Studies, History
  • Grade Level: 4th–8th
ACTIVITIES
Capture the Butterfly
  • Based on Chief Plenty Coups’ story with his grandfather. In this activity, students will race one another to capture a toy butterfly, “to lend me your grace and swiftness” as said by Chief Plenty Coups.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, English CC, health, IEFA
  • Grade Level: K–3rd
Crow Coups Relay
  • Four coups were needed to become a Crow war chief. Students try to raid “toy horses” to complete this coup….but don’t get caught!
  • Content Standards: Social studies, English CC, health, IEFA
  • Grade Level: K–5th
Birds and Binoculars
  • Students take a Ranger-led short hike to explore birds and wildlife throughout the Park. Students are provided binoculars and bird guides to use.
  • Content Standards: Science, social studies, health, art, English CC, IEFA
  • Grade Level: K–8th

First Peoples Buffalo Jump Field Trips

Contact First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park: phone: 406 866-2217, email: ccarlson-thompson@mt.gov

Buffalo Jump Talk
  • In this 30– to 45–minute program, your students will learn how and why the Plains Indian people performed a buffalo jump. Using a narrative based on archaeological information as well as on the oral traditions of Montana’s Native people, students learn the importance of a buffalo jump, including the spiritual significance. The program includes a visit to the jump itself where the cliff edge and original drivelines can be seen.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, English CC, IEFA
  • Grade Level: K–12th
Buffalo Puppets
  • This 30 minute program will include a shortened version of the What the Buffalo Became class, followed by the chance for students to create their own buffalo puppets. Students then get the opportunity to share what they learned using the puppet they have created.
  • Content Standards: Art, social studies, English CC, IEFA
  • Grade Level: K–2nd
Storytelling
  • This 30 minute activity includes the reading or telling of one or more Native American Stories from our wide selection of children’s books, followed by a discussion of what the children learned.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, English CC, IEFA
  • Grade Level: K–2nd
Native American Artwork
  • In this 30 minute program, your students will learn the similarities and differences between three types of Native American Artwork – pictographs, petroglyphs and winter counts. Students will learn the importance of artwork to the First Peoples culture and will have the opportunity to create their own artwork in the form of a winter count.
  • Content Standards: Art, social studies, English CC, IEFA
  • Grade Level: K–5th
Introduction to the Visitor Center/Scavenger Hunt
  • During this 30 minute program, your students will have the opportunity learn more about the objects and information in the visitor center through listening to an introductory talk by a Park Ranger. This will be followed by a scavenger hunt where students will have the opportunity to explore the visitor center, searching for answers to clues and questions. Students will typically work with one other partner.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, English CC, IEFA
  • Grade Level: 2nd–5th
What the Buffalo Became
  • In a 30– to 45–minute program, your students will learn the importance of the buffalo (bison bison) to the Plains Indian people. The program relates the needs of survival in the prehistoric, historic and modern eras by relating them to the needs of the students. Reproduction arts and artifacts are used in the program so that students can touch, feel, smell and see various items produced from parts of the buffalo.
  • Content Standards: Art, social studies, English CC, IEFA
  • Grade Level: 4th–5th
Ranger Guided Interpretive Hike
  • This program can be 1 hour for a 1 ½ mile hike or 2 hours for a 3 mile hike. During this program your students will learn much more about the lives of the First Peoples, including communication, survival skills, uses of the buffalo, tipi life, song and more. The Buffalo Jump Talk at the top of the jump is often combined with this hike, adding an extra 30 minutes to the program.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, English CC, health, IEFA
  • Grade Level: 2nd–8th
Montana’s Indian People
  • In this 30– to 45–minute program, your students will learn about the 12 tribal nations of Montana. Based on information produced by the Montana OPI, this interactive program informs students of the names of the tribes, what they call themselves in their own languages, the signs for the tribes in the traditional sign language, where the tribes are located today, and where their traditional territories were located.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, English CC, IEFA
  • Grade Level: 3rd–8th
Traditional Native American Games
  • Double-ball, run-and-scream, stick guessing game, and hoop-and-arrow are just a few of the popular traditional Native American games students can experience here. In the process of playing the games, students learn the history of the games, how they relate to various Montana Native peoples, and how to interact and socialize with one another. Specific activities vary depending on age level and duration of visit.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, English CC, health, IEFA
  • Grade Level: 3rd–12th

Flathead Lake State Park Field Trips

Contact Flathead Lake State Park: 406-837-3041, email: Aletheia.McCurry@mt.gov

Flathead Lake Geology
  • Hands-on activities, a guided hike, and a scavenger hunt near the lake are mixed with lessons in this 3-hour program. Students will learn about the types of rock and the rock cycle, how Flathead Lake formed, and why the rocks here are so special. Students will use deductive reasoning to answer questions about the rocks they find.
  • Content Standards: Science, history, English
  • Grade Level: 3rd–5th
Ecology and Birding
  • Hiking and games make this 2.5-hour field trip engaging from start to finish. Students will learn how everything in nature is connected and why each species plays an important role. Students will also participate in introductory birding to learn about the special feathered friends found in the valley. By the end of the field trip, students will have a better understanding of forest food webs and nature’s balance.
  • Content Standards: Science, health, social studies
  • Grade Level: K–6th
Flora and Fauna
  • In this 2.5-hour program, students will learn about plant and animal habitat needs, nutrient cycling, and healthy ecosystems. While hiking on the trail, students will be encouraged to use their senses to explore the plants and animals of our forests and enjoy ranger-led activities.
  • Content Standards: Science, health
  • Grade Level: K–3rd
History of Flathead Lake
  • From American Indians to homesteaders, Flathead Lake has an interesting cultural history. Students will not only learn of the humans who helped shape the history of the region, but also the geologic activities that created the lake and valley. This 2.5-hour field trip includes a short hike.
  • Content Standards: Science, social studies, IEFA, English
  • Grade Level: 3rd–6th
Senses in Nature
  • This 3-hour field trip focuses on enabling students to become more aware of their surroundings. By comparing human senses to various animals, students will increase their understanding of animal adaptations and hunting patterns. This program involves games, crafts, and short walks.
  • Content Standards: Science, Art, health
  • Grade Level: K–6th

Giant Springs Field Trips

Contact Giant Springs State Park: 406 727-1212, email: Alex.Sholes@mt.gov

Nature Walk
  • Join one of our guides on a 1/2 mile trail to learn more about the north-central Montana prairie and riparian ecosystems. The trail provides an excellent panorama of the Missouri River as well as close-up views of a number of 89important plant species and a variety of animal habitats. Students will be encouraged to pay attention to small details in the landscape and learn more about how different elements of the scenery interact with one another, as well as how a number of facets of the land have influenced human history. The program ends near Giant Springs and the Roe River, providing a perspective on these fascinating natural features.
  • Content Standards: Science, social studies, health, English CC
  • Grade Level: K–12th
Hatchery Tour
  • Giant Springs Fish Hatchery raises and releases nearly a million trout each year. This program provides an inside look at the whole process, explaining the significance of the Montana fisheries program, the distinguishing characteristics of the fish we raise, and the strategies used to care for and transport large numbers of fish. Depending on the time of year, students may catch glimpses of tanks full of thousands of small fish or trays loaded with fresh trout eggs. The program ends at the show pond, where we provide food so that students may feed some of the biggest and oldest trout.
  • Content Standards: Science, English CC
  • Grade Level: K–12th
Nature Notebooks for PreK–1st Graders
  • Experience Giant Springs State Park using all five senses – hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell! Our guides will help students start a nature notebook, where students will record their experiences and observations at Giant Springs. Students are encouraged to take their nature notebooks with them and to continue exploring the outdoors.
  • Content Standards: Science, health, English CC
  • Grade Level: PreK–1st
Nature Notebooks for 2nd - 4th Graders
  • Experience Giant Springs State Park using all five senses – hearing, sight, touch, taste and smell! Students will learn how to explore the outdoors through journaling. Our guides will help students start a nature notebook, where students will record their experiences and observations at Giant Springs.
  • Content Standards: Science, health, English CC
  • Grade Level: 2nd–4th
Everything Giant Springs
  • This topic covers the history of the park starting with Lewis and Clark and continuing to present day. Students will learn about water—discussing ground water and aquifers. We will play a game that reviews the journey water takes to the springs. If you’d like a longer session, we can also include a short nature walk about the animals and plants at Giant Springs.
  • Grade Level: All age groups; best suited for 4th and above.
Get the Ground Water Picture
  • Giant Springs State Park offers a unique opportunity to experience and learn about groundwater and aquifers. Students will learn about the importance of ground water to humans, and will create and observe their own aquifer-in-a-bucket. An additional interactive activity is available, in which students learn about how aquifers filter water from the earth’s surface.
  • Content Standards: Science, health, English CC
  • Grade Level: 5th-8th
Sum of the Parts
  • Students will have the opportunity to play the role of a land developer on a piece of land along the Missouri River. Students will discuss their development choices and learn about the different types of pollution that can affect rivers such as the Missouri.
  • Content Standards: Science, health, English CC
  • Grade Level: 9-12th
Smelter Walk
  • Discover some of the hidden history of Giant Springs on a hike to the sites of the smelter, bunkhouse and managers house of a smelting operation that ran from 1889 to 1901. Students will learn about the smelting process, and the history of the industry in Giant Springs State Park.
  • Content Standards: social studies, health, English CC
  • Grade Level: 9-12th

Lewis and Clark Caverns Field Trips

Contact Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park: 406 287-3541, email: rarmstrong@mt.gov

Cave Tour
  • Guided interpretation includes geology (cave formations’ development, coloring and types), history (discovery, early people’s use of the area, early cave tours, CCC and the Lewis & Clark Expedition), wildlife, and conservation. The tour is a two-mile, two-hour hike requiring the visitor to duck often, bend in half and ascend/descend over 600 steps. A light jacket and good walking shoes are needed. Large groups will be broken up and students may have the opportunity to explore the visitor center and outdoor interpretive signs.
  • Content Standards: English CC, health, science, social studies
  • Grade Level: K–12th

Lone Pine Field Trips

Contact Lone Pine State Park: 406 755-2706, email: bschwartz2@mt.gov

Trees and Forest Ecology 1
  • From role-playing to taking a “micro-hike,” this 45-minute program provides plenty of hands-on opportunities for young children. Students will discover what a tree needs to grow, observe tree characteristics, and learn basic components of a forest habitat. Program objectives include identifying seasonal changes in forest ecosystems, learning the four basic needs of a tree, understanding that trees can serve as habitat, and learning the basic components of a forest habitat.
  • Content Standards: Science, English CC, health
  • Grade Level: pre–K
Birdie Basics
  • Birdie Basics allows children to learn about the world of birds through stories, dance, and hands-on outdoor exploration! Students will learn the basic parts of a bird, be able to describe how different birds move, and discover what makes up a bird's special environment.
  • Content Standards: Science, Fine Arts, Health, English CC
  • Grade Level: PreK–1st
Forest Habitat
  • This 1 ½ hour program allows students to discover a forest habitat. Using indoor and outdoor activities, students will learn about forest animals and plants as well as their relationships to one another. Program objectives include learning the four components of a habitat, exploring forest animals and their relationships, discovering the roles plants play in the forest, and discussing why places like Lone Pine are important for conserving wildlife habitats.
  • Content Standards: Science, English CC, health
  • Grade Level: K–2nd
Insects
  • In this 1 ½ hour program students will review insect attributes, learn the four life stages, practice insect communication, and investigate insects in their natural habitat. Program objectives include understanding complete metamorphosis, exploring insect morphology, experiencing non-verbal communication, and discussing insect survival strategies and defense mechanisms.
  • Content Standards: Science, English CC, health
  • Grade Level: 1st–3rd
Trees and Forest Ecology 2
  • This 1 ½ hour program focuses on forest ecology. Through activities, discussion and hiking, students will be able to identify tree parts and learn their functions, discover what lives in the forest, and learn how the forest changes over time. Program objectives include learning the parts of a tree, discussing the animals found commonly at Lone Pine, and exploring how forest succession and fire management has affected Lone Pine over the past 100 years.
  • Content Standards: Science, English CC, health
  • Grade Level: 3rd–5th
Skulls, Skins and Bones
  • In this 1 ½ hour program, students will be given a background in animal classification using various skulls, skins and bones and participate in activities that practice recognizing animal behaviors based on adaptations using animal parts and clues. Students will also explore the predator/prey relationship and participate in an activity that simulates connections between many Montana animal species.
  • Content Standards: Science, English CC, health
  • Grade Level: 3rd–6th
Water Ecology
  • This 3 ½ hour program is great for grades studying the water cycle. Students will explore and discuss water quantity and quality, the value of water to all living things, and water’s role in altering landscapes. Program objectives include reviewing the Water Cycle, discovering how water changes landscapes, understanding that all life depends on water, experiencing how water can become limited and polluted, and discussing methods of conserving water.
  • Content Standards: Science, English CC, writing, health
  • Grade Level: 3rd–6th

Madison Buffalo Jump Field Trips

Contact Madison Buffalo Jump State Park: 406 285-3610, email: daveandrus@mt.gov

Atlatl Fun
  • Students listen to a presentation that discusses people’s use of the Missouri Headwaters area for more than 10,000 years; the use of the atlatl, a compound hunting tool; the atlatl parts and how both launchers and darts could have been made from area products, such as wood, bone, rock, leather, and feathers; the mechanics of atlatl throwing; and why the atlatl was more effective than throwing a dart by hand. Students then have a chance to throw atlatls within the safety of a shooting range.
  • Content Standards: Science, social studies, English CC, technology, IEFA
  • Grade Level: 3rd–7th (Adaptable for various grades and learners)
Ingenious Hunting
  • This program explores Madison Buffalo Jump and how Native people for thousands of years resourcefully used the landscape to hunt bison, which provided their food, clothing, shelter, and tools. Students have a chance to hike the archaeological site’s main trail to see how the jump worked. In addition, depending on the group’s schedule, students may try throwing an atlatl—another prehistoric hunting tool.
  • Content Standards: Speaking and listening, social studies, science, IEFA
  • Grade Level: 4th–7th

Makoshika Field Trips

Contact Makoshika State Park: 406 377-6256 , email: makoshika@mt.gov

Visitor Center Tour
  • Students tour Makoshika’s Visitor Center and receive interpretive discussion pertaining to the geological, paleontological, archeological, cultural and historical significance of the park; the resources the park manages; and the Great Plains ecosystem in which the park is located. Discussion begins with the history of the park and its importance as a place of scientific study and for recreational enjoyment. Students are then toured through the three themed interpretive rooms in the visitor center and provided a timeline-structured explanation of the physical world that was present and contributed to the several time periods of earth’s history relevant to the local physical world, culminating in what physical presence can be observed today in the park. The interpretive themes covered include: the marine period underlying the visible layers of the park today; the age of dinosaurs, including their lifestyles, their demise, and their presence today as fossils; and discussion of earth’s surface life following the extinction of dinosaurs, including the rise of mammals and the appearance and impact of humans on the natural landscape.
  • Content Standards: Science, English CC, social studies
  • Grade Level: 3rd–12th

Missouri Headwaters Field Trips

Contact Missouri Headwaters State Park: 406 285-3610, email: daveandrus@mt.gov

Beaver Abound!
  • Students learn about the fur trade, including the story of mountain man John Colter, and the process of trapping beaver. They also pass around hides and discuss distinctive features of fur-bearing animals that currently live or once lived near the Missouri River headwaters.
  • Content Standards: English CC, social studies, science
  • Grade Level: 3rd–6th
Atlatl Fun
  • Students listen to a presentation that discusses people’s use of the Missouri Headwaters area for more than 10,000 years; the use of the atlatl, a compound hunting tool; the atlatl parts and how both launchers and darts could have been made from area products, such as wood, bone, rock, leather, and feathers; the mechanics of atlatl throwing; and why the atlatl was more effective than throwing a dart by hand. Students then have a chance to throw atlatls within the safety of a shooting range.
  • Content Standards: Science, social studies, English CC, technology, IEFA
  • Grade Level: 3rd–7th (Adaptable for various grades and learners)
Fort Rock Tour
  • Students hike around Fort Rock for a longer or shorter tour of this significant limestone structure, which enables them to see the landscape around the Three Forks. Topics include Native American, early explorer (Lewis and Clark and fur trade), and early settlement history as well as natural studies of plants, animals, and geography. Through discussion with their guide, students demonstrate an understanding of the theme “Missouri headwaters history represents a confluence of cultures.”
  • Content Standards: English CC, social studies, science, IEFA
  • Grade Level: 3rd–7th
GeoCache Challenge
  • Using GPS units and working cooperatively, students navigate around the limestone structure Fort Rock to find answers to park trivia questions based on natural and cultural history. Topics include Native American, early explorer (Lewis and Clark and fur trade), and early settlement history as well as natural studies of plants and geography. The overall activity supports Missouri Headwaters State Park’s “confluence of rivers; confluence of cultures” theme.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, science, technology, English CC
  • Grade Level: 4th–7th This program requires the ability to learn technology, read signs, use reasoning, and cooperate with classmates.
GeoCache Challenge (Letterbox Version)
  • Working cooperatively, students navigate around the limestone structure Fort Rock to find answers to park trivia questions, based on natural and cultural history. Topics include Native American, early explorer (Lewis and Clark and fur trade), and early settlement history as well as natural studies of plants and geography. The overall activity supports Missouri Headwaters State Park’s “confluence of rivers; confluence of cultures” theme.
  • Content Standards: Social studies, science, English CC
  • Grade Level: 4th–7th This program requires the ability to read signs, arrive at answers through reasoning, and cooperate with classmates.

Pictograph Cave Field Trip

Contact Pictograph Cave State Park: 406 254-7342, email: jkostrba@mt.gov

Teacher’s Guide to Pictograph Cave State Park Educational Programs

Discovery Tasks
  • Students explore the natural environment around the cave with a discovery-based scavenger hunt activity.
  • Content Standards: Science, Speaking and Listening, Art, Writing, Health, IEFA
  • Grade Level: preK–2nd
Create Your Own Pictograph
  • Students will discover what pictographs are, how they were painted and the importance of pictographs. Students will learn about the pictographs found at the park, and will have the opportunity to create their own pictographs.
  • Content Standards: Art, Social Studies, Speaking and Listening, IEFA.
  • Grade Level: preK–3rd
Native Games
  • Become more familiar with the traditions of regional tribes as you have fun exploring some of their traditional ideas and beliefs.
  • Content Standards: Social Studies, Speaking and Listening, Art, IEFA
  • Grade Level: preK-8th
Early Technology Card Game
  • This program introduces a variety of tools used in the early Plains cultures and includes an activity on how to look at artifacts and how to build tools using simple materials.
  • Content Standards: Social Studies, Speaking and Listening, Science, Math, IEFA
  • Grade Level: K–3rd
Interpretive Trail Tour
  • The guided trail tour is currently offered in two different formats. Please note that neither option takes students directly into Pictograph Cave due to safety reasons; however, all topics are covered via audio-visual materials.
    1. A ranger will guide the group along a ¾ mile interpretive trail discussing the caves’ human history and archeological past. The tour will end in the Visitor Center classroom with a PowerPoint explanation of Pictograph Cave.
    2. In lieu of the traditional trail tour, a full length virtual tour is available and will cover the same materials as the conventional format
  • Content Standards: Social Studies, Science, Speaking and Listening, Art, Health, IEFA
  • Grade Level: K–12th
Nature Walk
  • Students discover the flora and fauna of the park in detail on a ranger-led nature walk (generally either the Trail Tour OR Nature Walk is chosen, as some information overlaps). One of the following topics can be chosen as the primary focus:
    1. Geology of the Billings Area: Students learn about the rocks of the area, how they were formed, and why they are considered dynamic
    2. Plant Ecology: Students learn about plant cycles and the importance of plants to inhabitants of the region
    3. Noxious Weeds: Students discover issues regarding noxious weeds and plans that restore native habitat.
    4. Animals of Central Montana: Students become familiar with animals of the local ecosystem and learn to recognize animal signs including scat, tracks and sounds.
  • Content Standards: Science, Speaking and Listening, Health, IEFA
  • Grade Level: K–12th
Archaeological Exploration
  • This program introduces the concept of stratigraphy and what makes something an artifact. Students will have the opportunity to act as a professional and practice techniques used by archaeologists.
  • Content Standards: Social Studies, Science, Math, Writing, Speaking and Listening, IEFA
  • Grade Level: 4th–12th
Early Technology and Atlatl Throwing
  • This program introduces a variety of tools used in the early Plains cultures and includes an activity on how to look at artifacts and how to build tools using simple materials. Students then have the opportunity to learn the technique of throwing the atlatl.
  • Content Standards: Social Studies, Speaking and Listening, Science, Math, IEFA
  • Grade Level: 5th–12th

Travelers' Rest Field Trips

Contact Travelers’ Rest State Park: 406 273-4253, email: maci.macpherson@mt.gov

Travelers' Rest field trips are available and are coordinated through Travelers' Rest Connection. View the field trip, distance learning, and educational materials options here. 

Indian Education for All

Native American history at Montana State Parks

Montana State Parks, in partnership with the Office of Public Instruction, has created 21 model lesson plans for K-12 teachers that each feature a Montana State Park. While the students’ knowledge and personal experience can be enhanced by an actual visit to a State Park, the lesson plans stand alone in the classroom.

View the Indian Education For All Lesson Plans 
Man and child in tipi at Chief Plenty Coups State Park

Traveling Trunks

With Montana State Parks’ traveling educational trunks, you can bring a park to your classroom! Supplement a lesson plan and provide fun, hands-on learning for your students. A variety of grade levels and topics were considered when developing these trunks, so there is sure to be one that will fit both your students’ interests and your curriculum. Additionally, our educational trunks are specifically designed to support state education standards.

To reserve a trunk please contact the State Park Manager at the park listed. Montana State Parks is happy to provide these trunks free of charge to educators but requires that the return postage is paid for. Check back for new trunks that are being developed.

History Trunks

Furs and Hides

This trunk contains pelts and hides of buffalo, beaver, badger, coyote, ermine/weasel, fox, mink, muskrat, otter, raccoon, rabbit and skunk. Each hide is tagged with the English name, Crow name and a short description of the Crow’s use of the animal. Also included in the trunk are directions for downloading Crow Language app for smart phones.

  • Grade Level: K-12
  • Contact: Chief Plenty Coups State Park (406) 252-1289

 

Birding Exploration

Learn about birds, their migration, habitats and how to be a good steward. Included are binoculars, neck and shoulder harnesses, a spotting scope, and a copy of Flying WILD lesson plan book, and the Sibley Birds West field guide. This trunk was made possible by a donation from the Jean Smith estate to enhance bird conservation and education. Jean Smith was an ornithology professor at Carroll College in Helena and an avid outdoors woman.

  • Content Standards: Science
  • Grade Level: K-12
  • Contact: Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park (406) 287-3541

 

Lewis and Clark Expedition

This trunk covers the history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, as well as daily life on the journey. The trunk includes a video, books, beaver skin, wool blanket, writing utensils, sewing utensils, trading items, and personal items such as clothing and eating utensils. A curriculum is included.

  • Content Standards: IEFA and social studies
  • Grade Level: K-12
  • Contact: Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park (406) 287-3541

Science Trunks

Bat Education

Explore the world of bats with a bat skeleton, videos, books, a curriculum, and more. The trunk focuses on bat truths and myths, bat characteristics and habits, and bat conservation.

  • Content Standards: Science
  • Grade Level: K-12
  • Contact: Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park (406) 287-3541

 

Cave and Geology

Journey through the dark, wet Lewis and Clark caverns with a hardhat, carbide lamp, climbing gear, rock samples, speleothems, and much more. This trunk contains a curriculum and can be used in conjunction with a field trip to Lewis and Clark Caverns.

  • Content Standards: Science
  • Grade Level: K-12
  • Contact: Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park (406) 287-3541

 

Crow Astronomy

Using the Office of Public Instruction’s Montana Skies: Crow Astronomy curriculum, Montana Skies integrates traditional Crow oral star stories with ethno-astronomy and contemporary astronomy concepts guided by Crow keepers of that knowledge. Included in this trunk are star maps, a planetarium projector and solar system models. The Montana Skies DVD and Teacher’s Guide can serve as a resource to implement Indian Education for All in Science, Social Studies, and the Arts.

  • Content Standards: Science and Social Studies
  • Grade Level: 4th-8th
  • Contact: Chief Plenty Coups State Park (406) 252-1289

 

Paleontology

Engage early scientists, artists, and outdoor-lovers alike with this trunk full of fossil casts, coloring pages, posters, and paleontology field kits. Young students will get a taste for the wonder of paleontology and the massive scale of the animals that once roamed Makoshika. The trunk is very large and may be costly to ship so it is recommended that a number of schools or organizations in an area arrange to share the trunk for a few weeks, transporting it from one place to another as needed.

  • Content Standards: Science and social studies
  • Grade Level: K-12 with focus on K-6
  • Contact: Makoshika State Park (406) 377-6256

 

Getting the Gold

Transport your students into the era of mining and the gold rush with artifacts and mining activities based on Bannack’s history. Mining artifacts, modern mining equipment, ore samples and paydirt are included. Geology and the formation of gold deposits, the mining camp, and mining methods are described.

  • Content Standards: Science and social studies
  • Grade Level: K-12 with focus on 5-8
  • Contact: Bannack State Park (406) 834-3413