Montana Natural History Center - Where Nature is the Classroom.


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nature discovery Traveling TRUNKS

Elderhostelers on a birding expedition.These traveling educational trunks help make natural history come alive for your classroom. Each trunk is filled with interdisciplinary and scientifically-accurate educational materials such as grizzly hides, wolf skulls, age-appropriate lesson plans, posters, videos, audio cassettes, games and puppets.

Trunks are sent statewide to Montana teachers, reaching over 2,000 students annually. An example of one of the Montana Natural History Center's trunks is the Songbird Blues Trunk -- the centerpiece of an education program designed to increase awareness of the great diversity of migratory songbirds and the perils they face.

More than 88 trunks are currently circulating in 17 states, Mexico, and Canada and reaching over 100,000 elementary school students each year. Teacher training workshops and field programs augment the effectiveness of the trunks.


Contact 327-0405 to reserve a trunk. Provide teacher's name, school name, contact information, and preferred dates.

Trunks can be rented for two (2) weeks for $25 or three (3) weeks for $35. This charge covers costs incurred in the maintenance and processing of these trunks. Schools are responsible for missing items from trunks. Schools are responsible for shipping charges, as well as insurance costs. The maximum shipping cost is estimated at $40.

These trunks can also be picked up at the Montana Natural History Center at the new location of 120 Hickory Street Tuesday through Friday from 10:00 - 5:00 pm. A limited number of scholarships are available if you cannot find funding to cover rental and/or shipping costs.

Southgate Mall logo

The Traveling Nature Discvoery Trunk program is funded by program fees and supplemented by grants and donations to keep costs low for participating schools. Scholarships may be available for rural schools to offset shipping costs.

We are delighted that Missoula's Southgate Mall has generously underwritten our traveling trunk program so that we may keep our rental rates low and still offer a quality program for teachers, students, and local youth groups who enjoy the trunks.

Check out the Northern Rockies Regional Educational Trunk Guide, a guide to all of the trunks available in the Northern Rockies region!

This fantastic resource was co-produced in 2001 by the Montana Environmental Education Association and the Museum of the Rockies. To add trunks or make corrections please contact the Montana Natural History Center.

The Songbird Blues Trunk won the 1995 international award for public awareness education from the Partners in Flight program.

This trunk brings geology, Montana history and the story of mining for minerals into the classroom with hands-on learning. Themes include: rocks and minerals, formation of rocks, history of mining and equipment, how minerals are found, why mining continues and what mined minerals are used for. The kit includes curriculum guides, examples of rocks and minerals, posters, examples of mining equipment and tools, examples of products made from mined minerals and everything you need to learn about mining in Montana.
Grade level: 3-8

Created by Swan Ecosystem Center in Condon, MT, this trunk is a powerful tool to get students outside using the tools of the trade in forest stewarship. Equipment, art, research materials, forester's tools, lesson plans, and more help support your forest and science curriculum.
Grade level: 5-12

This exciting hands-on trunk consisting of a loon mount, costumes, puppets, books, posters, and more was created by Donna Love, author of Loons and member of the Montana Loon Society. Discover the legend of loons and there remarkable lives with this engaging trunk.
Grade level: K-6

Take a plunge into the world of the Northwest's native Bull trout. With this multifacted eductional trunik, experience the historical decline and subsequent efforts to return our Bulls to their native habitats. Includes actual bull trout eggs, sac fry and fry for observation. Also includes resources, curriculum, videos, mark recapture population estimation activities, and other exciting hands-on materials.
Grade level: 3-8

This trunk offers a glimpse into our local watershed. Take an imaginary journey using a hand-painted floor map and wooden figurines to tell the stories of historical characters whose lives were dependent on water. Curriculum and multimedia materials addressing watershed issues are included. Themes covered are the water cycle, water quality, bull trout, aquatic life, and human impacts.
Grade level: 3-6

Hands-on learning about fire ecology. Themes include: wildfire behavior, forest change, plant and animal adaptations to fire and management of wildland fire. Included is a curriculum guide, tree cookies, posters, games, puzzles, books, slide show, videos, and everything you need to experiment with fire (plus a fire extinguisher!). For more information, take a look at the fire lab's website about the fireworks trunk.
Grade level: 1-9
* Cannot be shipped due to weight.

Developed by the Western Montana Mycological Association, this mushroom educational trunk includes an amazing slide show highlighting various species of mushrooms, collection trunks for the classroom, identification posters, videos, dried mushroom specimens, and a teacher's guide full of activities and flashcards.
Grade level: 5-8

This toolbox contains data CDs, workbooks, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) units. It is accompanied by a curriculum guide with over 25 lessons for introducing students to map reading and interpretation, GPS mapping, and using GIS.
Two versions for Grade levels K-5, 6-12

This trunk provides everything necessary to conduct a detailed investigation of the dramatic ice-age floods that shaped our landscape over 12,000 years ago. Full of lessons, maps, pictures, and extension activities your students won't be able to get enough! A great geology source and an amazing natural history detective story with evidence in our own backyard.
Grade level: 6-9

Air pollution in the intermountain west is the focus of this unit, empowering learners to protect our precious air quality. Hands-on activities integrate the subject areas of science, mathematics, health, social studies, and language arts. Includes an experiment trunk for creating miniature inversion layers, puppets, posters, books and a curriculum guide. Grade level: 3-5

This trunk is designed to supplement ecological studies with the opportunity to think about complex relationships and systems. Concepts such as snow metamorphosis, animal and plant adaptations, and energy transfer are examined through the inquiry-based, experiential activities. The trunk includes posters, pelts, books, videos, and games.
Grade level: 5-8

Two-to-four week thematic unit that involves students in a hands-on exploration of the geologic and human history of this Missoula landmark. Specific plant and animal relationships are also covered. A slide show, books, transparencies, field guides, posters, and biological specimens are all included.
Grade level: 3-5

Learn the magic of Montana's native plants! Created by the Montana Native Plant Society, this trunk is rich in materials, field guides, curriculum, and visual aids to identify plants native to this Rocky Mountain palouse prairie region.
Grade level: 3-8

This well-known Project WET resource has found a home at the Montana Natural History Center. Everything you need to bring the wonders of ponds and wetlands to your students, including books, slides, posters, flannel board, games, viewing tank, hands-on activities, and curriculum guides.
Grade level: preschool-4

Lying in the shadow of the Rockies, the prairies comprise nearly one third of the continent. Discover this unique ecosystem and the many creatures that depend on the grassland habitats. The trunk contains curriculum materials, books, videos, prints, and hides.
Grade level: K-12

Explore the natural history of migratory birds with this award-winning trunk! Learn about their life in Mexico and Montana, and find out about the increasing problems they face in their summer and winter homes. Help students appreciate songbirds and learn how to help insure that their songs always herald spring in the Rockies. The trunk includes a curriculum guide, specimens, books, puppets, tapes, videos, and a felt storyboard.
Grade level: K-6

Many of Montana's animals face the danger of extinction due to habitat loss. Learn of the tenuous existence of these animals and what steps are being taken to recover their populations. Inside the trunk you will find hides, specimens, books, posters, videos, plaster tracks, and a curriculum guide.

Three versions: #1 for Grades 2-6; #2 for Grades 5-8; and, #3 for Grades 7-12

Wetlands are an excellent tool for teaching basic science concepts and a great introduction to the outdoor classroom. Curriculum guide include.
Grade level: 3-6

Absent from Montana for nearly 50 years, the gray wolf is coming back, but not without controversy. Explore the natural and cultural history of wolves and invite students to consider how we can coexist with one of nature's wildest and most symbolic animals. Included in the trunk is a curriculum guide, hides, fur samples, skulls, plaster casts, videos, and cassette tapes.
Grade level: K-12

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