Mountain School at Home

MS@home_Logo.jpg
Students! Parents! Teachers! During this time of school closures and stay-at-home guidelines, North Cascades Institute is sharing lessons and activities from our talented Mountain School instructors. We hope these will inspire students of all ages to continue to learn about the natural world and discover new connections to the outdoors from home.
   

Lessons to Download

MSatHome_Lesson1_Thumb.jpg

Lesson 1: Sit Spots
Sit spots involve taking time to sit in a spot of your choosing in the natural world and getting to know it a little better. This time allows you to use your senses to observe: sight, smell, hearing and touch. This can be done in a backyard, a local park, a balcony, or even just by opening your window and bringing your attention to what’s going on outside. 
View on blogDownload pdf

 
MSatHome_Lesson2_Thumb.jpg

Lesson 2: Tree Bud Journal
Spring is in the air, and it's the perfect time to investigate one of the most wonderful parts of the year: the leaves returning to our favorite deciduous trees and shrubs! This multi-week activity is perfect for attuning your senses to the changes happening in the natural world—in the wilderness, a neighborhood park, or your own backyard.
View on blog / Download PDF

 
MSathome_Lesson4-Thumb.jpg

Lesson 3: Nature Art & Writing
Art and writing can be wonderful strategies for expressing feelings and processing emotions in a positive manner for both children and adults alike. There is no “right” way to do art or writing and there are so many different styles to explore and we invite you to explore what medium feels natural to you. Here are some ideas to get you started!
View on blog / Download PDF

MSathome_L4_WalkingWonder_Thumb.jpg

Lesson 4: Walking with Wonder
Soaking in sunshine or trotting in the rain can bring immense amounts of joy that are long lasting. By directing your energy and attention on your walks you can add a little extra oomph and make each walk unique—even if it’s the same path each time!
View on blog / Download PDF

  

MSatHome_L5_Phenology_Thumb.jpg

Lesson 5: Tuning In To the Seasons with Phenology
Every year, plants, animals, and fungi go through cycles of change. If you have noticed the first flowers in spring, or the last maple leaf fall in autumn, then you have made a phenological observation. By helping you learn to pay close attention, phenology—the study of seasonal change —is a great way to engage in the natural world.
View on blogDownload PDF

   

   

  
MSatHome_L6_TrailCookies_Thumb.jpg

Lesson 6: Mountain School Trail Cookies
One of every student’s favorite Mountain School treats is the delicious 
Trail Cookies included in their sack lunches. They are made from scratch by the amazing kitchen staff at the Environmental Learning Center. Packed with protein and all sorts of chewy, crunchy goodness, Trail Cookies help keep students energized for learning out in nature.
View on blog / Download PDF

   
MSatHome_L7_Adaptations_Thumb.jpg Lesson 7: Adaptations
In this lesson, we are going to embody the special adaptations some animals possess in order to help us understand what life would be like if we could 
see in the dark or hear sounds from further away. These characteristics serve many animals as adaptations that help them survive in the wild.
View on blog / Download PDF
       
MSatHome_L8_Granola_Thumb.jpg

Lesson 8: Making Granola
A popular staple of Mountain School breakfasts is our kitchen’s original Mountain School Granola. This delicious, crunchy goodness is hearty enough to power learners of any age through a morning spent in the woods. We’re happy to share the recipe so now you can enjoy it at home!
View on blogDownload PDF

   

   

MSatHome_L9_BirdCalls-thumb.jpg

Lesson 9: Learning Bird Calls
Identifying birds and their calls can seem a daunting challenge when there are so many different types! Starting small and practicing with common birds near you will help you to experience the world in an entirely new way. Use this lesson to become better acquainted with the feathered inhabitants in your neighborhood!
View on blog / Download PDF

   

MSatHome_L10_TreasureMaps_Thumb.jpg

Lesson 10: Make Your Own Treasure Map
Practice your map and navigational skills, and enjoy a totally unique adventure outside, by creating your very own treasure map!
View on blogDownload PDF

   

MS@home_L11_Shadow_thumb.jpg

Lesson 11: Shadow Painting and Poetry
Learn how to make a beautiful work of art using the intricate outline of natural object's shadow. And then have fun with poetry while you imagine what would happen if your shadow had a mind of its own!
View on blog / Download PDF

   

   

MS@home_L12_ISpyNature_thumb.jpg

Lesson 12: I Spy Nature
As we go about our daily lives, we rely heavily on our vision to tell us what is going on in the world. This lesson will help you get outside and get in touch with all your senses.
View on blog / Download PDF

 

     

   

MSatHome_L13_DouglasFir_thumb.jpg

Lesson 13: Love Letter to a Douglas Fir
The Douglas Fir is a constant companion in Pacific Northwest forests, a sage chaperone, and a place for a curious human to rest their head. It stands tall in the natural history of the North Cascades, and in the heart of Mountain School instructor, Taylor Woolsey. Learn about this essential tree species through poetry and creative reflections.
View on blog / Download PDF

   

   

MS@home_L14_FieldGuides-thumb.jpg

Lesson 14: Enjoying Field Guides
Field guides are an excellent way to take ownership of your own learning. They give us an opportunity to pair names and facts with the colors and creatures we encounter on our adventures in nature. This lesson will help you get the most out of using field guides and shows some creative ideas for even more learning.
View on blog / Download PDF

   

   

MSatHome_L15_Watersheds-thumb.jpg

Lesson 15: Watersheds in the North Cascades
Consisting of hundreds of glistening glaciers, tumbling waterfalls, and rushing creeks, the Skagit River Watershed is the largest in the Puget Sound Basin, providing over 20% of the water flowing into the Sound. Learn about this wondrous feature of the North Cascades in a lesson from original Mountain School curriculum first taught 30 years ago!
View on blog / Download PDF

   

   

MS@home_L16_Glaciers-Thumb.jpg

Lesson 16: Glaciers!
What is a glacier? How do they form? There are over 300 glaciers in the North Cascades National Park Service Complex, making the North Cascades the most glaciated area in the United States outside of Alaska. This engaging lesson will help you learn about these natural wonders by watching videos and making your own glacier!
View on blog / Download PDF

   

   


ACHOTUS Video Series:
A Cultural History of the Upper Skagit

Mountain School instructors Jillian Ross, Imara White, Alexa Brandt, and Kari Paustian bring you this wonderful reinvention of a traditional  Mountain School activity that goes by the acronym "ACHOTUS". As they imagine traveling back in time, students are introduced to historical figures with special relevance to this area, and by doing so, gain a fuller understanding of human interaction with this landscape. It's important to recognize the variety of ways people connect to a place like the Upper Skagit in order to remember that there are other perspectives. 
  
Episode 1: Indigenous Presence

Journey back through TEN THOUSAND YEARS of history with time traveler Alexa to learn about a distant time when the Swinomish, Sauk-Suiattle, Upper Skagit, Nlaka’pamux, and other indigenous communities were already practicing their traditional lifeways in the North Cascades. Visit our blog post for Alexa's recommended extra resources to learn more about Indigenous presence from the Skagit Valley to the Salish Sea.
    

   
Episode 2: George Holmes

Journey back to 1914 in this second episode in which Alexa meets George Holmes, a gold miner who began life as a slave in Virginia, but found freedom, respect, and fortunes on Ruby Creek in the North Cascades. Watch the video and then hop over to our blog to learn more about George Holmes and mining in the Skagit Valley. 
   

More Video Lessons

"Hello, It's Tree"
Since we can't sing together around the campfire at Mountain School this spring, we are bringing the sing-along to you at home! This Adele-inspired song about native trees of the North Cascades was written, sung and choreographed by our awesome instructors in March 2020, in the early days of Stay at Home, at our Confluence Property on the Skagit River in Marblemount, WA.

Owl Adaptations with Lindsay
Enjoy this talk about owl adaptations -- how their physiology helps them to be superior nocturnal predators -- with instructor Lindsay McCord.

Raptor Adaptations with Lindsay 
Enjoy this talk about raptors like hawks and eagles with instructor Lindsay McCord.

Composting with Tanner
Join Mountain School instructor Tanner Johnson at the Confluence Garden on our property in Marblemount for some tips on how to start and maintain a healthy compost pile, turning food scraps and yard waste in to healthy soil for gardening.



More Resources

Our Mountain School instructors compiled some of their favorite educational and nature-exploration resources that they have been itching to share with others! These recommendations include books, poetry, podcasts, citizen science apps, videos, and live cams. 

Mountain School Recommends: Books and Poetry

Mountain School Recommends: Apps, Videos, and Live Cams

Mountain School Recommends: Podcasts


YLA-RoundBio.jpg
We also have lots of resources for older students to dive deeper into topics in the Youth Leadership Adventures curriculum like climate change & getting outside in your own backyard. It is geared towards YLA alumni, but available for any students curious to learn more and includes articles for youth climate activists, fun outdoor activities and interesting podcasts. Visit ncascades.org/signup/youth/YLA/alumni
  

Thank you for helping us offer these at-home lessons for transformative learning experiences in nature by making a gift at www.ncascades.org/give.