Swan Haven School Programs

Class Trips to Swan Haven

Program Overview


Program: Cost:

Swan Haven School Programs:
April 2, 2023 to April 30, 2023

  • Grade 2: Swans Need to Swim
  • Grade 3: Connecting the Dots
  • Grade 5: Aquatic Birds: Built for Water
No Cost to Yukon Students

School programs have always been a large part of spring activities at Swan Haven. Hundreds of school children make the trip with their classes to participate in hands-on activities and games, in a spectacular outdoor classroom. The Yukon Wildlife Preserve delivers Swan Haven School Programs on behalf of Environment Yukon’s Wildlife Viewing Program.

Class Trip Program Descriptions

Grade 2 - Swans Need to Swim
Spring: Up to 48 students (2 classes)
½ Day Program (2 hour)
9:30am to 11:30am or 12:00pm (noon) to 2:00pm

What makes Swan Haven such an important stop for migrating swans? The open water! 

In this half day program, students will learn about why open water at M’Clintock Bay is so important for swans.  Students will learn about swan behaviors using play and storytelling, explore the challenges of migration through an interactive game, and make observations of swans on the water using spotting scopes. 

Teachers are responsible for bus transportation to and from Swan Haven.

Curriculum Connections:

  • Water is essential to all living things, and it cycles through the environment
    • Water sources including local watersheds
    • Water is important for all living things
    • How does water cycle through the environment
  • Living things have life cycles adapted to their environment
    • Lifecycles of local animals
    • Local actions have global consequences
    Grade 3 - Swan Haven: Connecting the Dots

    Spring: Up to 48 students (2 classes)
    ½ Day Program (2 hour)
    9:30am to 11:30am or 12:00pm (noon) to 2:00pm

    Swan Haven is a diverse and unique ecosystem. Energy is transferred through the system in many ways, and swans have an important part to play. In this half day program students will observe the different ecosystem roles of swans using spotting scopes, participate in a hands-on activity to explore how swans interact within their ecosystem and witness thermal energy in action with an exciting experiment.

    Teachers are responsible for bus transportation to and from Swan Haven.

    Curriculum Connections:

    • Living things are diverse, can be grouped, and interact in their ecosystems
      • Biodiversity in the local environment
      • Energy is needed for life
      • Flow of energy in a community
    • Thermal energy can be produced and transferred
      • Sources and transfer of thermal energy
      • Convection and radiation
      Grade 5 - Aquatic Birds: Built for Water

      Spring: Up to 48 students (2 classes)
      ½ Day Program (2 hour)
      9:30am to 11:30am or 12:00pm (noon) to 2:00pm

      Swans are the largest waterfowl in Canada, and their unique anatomy is what makes Swan Haven such an important rest stop for these magnificent birds. By exploring swan and bird anatomy, we will discover how Swan Haven is specially matched to the needs of waterfowl. In this half day program students will observe swans using spotting scopes, experience the challenges and advantages faced by migrating waterfowl in a fun, interactive game and get hands-on to learn about waterfowl anatomy!  

      Teachers are responsible for bus transportation to and from Swan Haven.

      Curriculum Connections:

      • Multicellular organisms have organ systems that enable them to survive and interact within their environment
        • Digestive, musco-skeletal, respiratory
      • Machines are devices that transfer force and energy
        • Examples of machines found in nature

        Class Trip FAQs

        How to Book

        Fill out the booking request form at this link. We’ll get back to you within three school days to confirm your booking.

        If you would like to book more than two classes at the same time, please contact us at education@yukonwildlife.ca.

        Why bring my class to Swan Haven?

        Swan Haven is one of Yukon’s incredible natural wonders. Each spring, Swan Haven (located on M’Clintock Bay on Marsh Lake) hosts a spring spectacle of migrating swans and waterbirds. Featuring the first open water in the region, the bay has many attractions for early migrants. This bay offers shallow water, access to food, good visibility, and little disturbance to waterbirds, making it a critical stopover on the long migration to northern nesting grounds!

        Students are treated to the sights and sounds of a magnificent spring migration. Yukon Wildlife Preserve programmers lead students through engaging, hands-on programming that is curriculum connected.

        This is an incredible opportunity to take learning out of the classroom and into our amazing back yard!

          Who can book Swan Haven School Programs?

          Programs are specifically designed for Grades 2, 3 and 5.

          Any Yukon teacher can book one of these programs for their class. We can take up to two classes in each time slot; if you would like to book more at the same time, contact us at education@yukonwildlifepreserve.ca. If staffing availability allows, we may have some flexibility with this.

          Where do Swan Haven School Programs take place?

          All interpretive programs during April take place at the  Swan Haven Interpretive Centre at M’Clintock Bay on Marsh Lake – about 40km south of Whitehorse.

          When can I bring my class?

          Programming is offered during the month of April (excluding holidays). We will do our best to arrange special timelines for schools travelling from communities outside of Whitehorse. Swan Haven programs are free to Yukon students, all you have cover is the cost of transportation.  Book early to avoid disappointment.

          Programs can be scheduled at 9:15, 9:45, 11:00, or 12:00. Programs last for 2.25 or 2.5 hours, including breaks. You can also choose to stay after your program, or arrive early, to explore the interpretive lake trail.

          Teacher Resources

          It all begins with a sense of place. We invite you to share this interactive 360 video with your students. This video provides a jumping off point for hosting a discussion on the features of this landscape. After exploring the video with your students, you may wish to extend the impact by trying one of the activities listed below.

          We reference the BC/Yukon curriculum, but hope that teachers anywhere feel welcome and encouraged to try some of our suggestions with their students.

          Swan Haven / Yukon Specific Classroom Explorations

          Trumpeter Swan Lifecycle Discussion (Grade K-2)

          Curriculum Connections (BC/Yukon Curriculum)

          • Science K Big Ideas: Plants and animals have observable features;
          • Science 2 Big Ideas: Living things have life cycles adapted to their environment.

          Using the lifecycle images and chart (Life Cycle of a Swan.pdf), talk to your students about the lives of swans and ask them connecting questions such as “In your family, who is the young grey swan? Who is the full grown adult swan? Is anyone in your family the egg?” Encourage then to demonstrate curiosity and a sense of wonder about the world, and to consider swans in familiar contexts. Talk to your students about when they think swans are ready to fly, when they think swans are ready to have their own babies, and how long they think swans live. Make comparisons between the students and swans to foster a sense of connection using questions such as “Would they be as tall as Ahmed? Do you think they weigh the same as Sam’s little brother?”

          After sharing and brainstorming, solve any mysteries that came up using the Swan Cheat Sheet 2020.pdf.

          Graphing Challenge (Grades 3-9)

          Curriculum Connections (BC/Yukon Curriculum)

          • Mathematics 3 Content: one-to-one correspondence with bar graphs, pictographs, charts, and tables
          • Mathematics 4 Content: one-to-one correspondence and many-to-one correspondence, using bar graphs and pictographs
          • Mathematics 5 Big Ideas: Data represented in graphs can be used to show many-to-one correspondence
          • Mathematics 6 Big Ideas: Linear relations can be identified and represented using expressions with variables and line graphs and can be used to form generalizations.

          Using the daily visit data from 2018-2020 (available here: .xlsx .pdf), challenge your students to create graphs depicting the daily visits for the month of April each year. Depending on the level of familiarity they have with graphing, the lesson may consist of simply learning how to create graphs and discussing how and why graphs are useful. If they are ready for a greater challenge after they are finished graphing, the students may wish to discuss any trends they see, and form generalizations based on the data.

          Here are some examples of graphs made using the data above:

          For a more advanced daily/weekly graphing activity in the classroom, access a daily species counts from Swan Haven here: https://ebird.org/hotspot/L767519 (official updates from Jukka Jantenen are typically posted daily throughout April). You can graph your way through the month!

          Lesson Plan: Swan Lake Via Marsh Lake (Kindergarten)

          The Yukon Wildlife Preserve hopes to offer teachers lessons and activities that deepen and enhance the experience of visiting Swan Haven. To this end, we have created a series of grade specific lesson plans written for Yukon teachers. The pdf below contains a detailed lesson plan with which students will be introduced to the topic of swans using Ella Bella Ballerina and Swan Lake, by James Mayhew, video of swans in flight at Swan Haven (Yukon Territory), and video and audio from the Tchaikovsky ballet Swan Lake. The exposure to the art forms of dance and music will enhance respectful appreciation of the physicality of swans and encourage reflection about how characteristics of swans have influenced and enhanced a human art form. Dancing and enjoyment will be highly encouraged.

          The goals of this activity are to support future classroom visits to Swan Haven Interpretive Centre, to plant seeds of thinking about swans in a broad context, and to offer a cross-curricular lesson incorporating elements of  science, music, dance, and English Language Arts. Using an engaging story and a classic ballet juxtaposed with footage of swans at Swan Haven, students will observe animal characteristics, and reflect on how humans have interpreted these features and been inspired to create art in turn.

          Curriculum Connections:

          • English Language Arts K– Big Ideas: 
            • Language and story can be a source of creativity and joy.
            •  Stories and other texts can be shared through pictures and words. 
          • Science K– Big Ideas:
            • Plants and animals have observable features
          • Arts Education – Big Ideas: Dance, drama, music, and visual arts express meaning in unique ways.

          To view the complete lesson plan: Kindergarten Swan Haven Lesson Plan.pdf


            Lesson Plan: The Migration of Trumpeter Swans (Grade 1)

            The Yukon Wildlife Preserve hopes to offer teachers lessons and activities that deepen and enhance the experience of visiting Swan Haven. To this end, we have created a series of grade specific lesson plans written for Yukon teachers.

            What is migration and why do animals migrate? Using the Grade 1 lesson plan in the pdf below, introduce students to the subject of migration by assigning them the role of swans and setting up the classroom into four seasons. Incorporate healthy snacks for the ‘swans’ to find as you journey together through the seasons discussing what is happening in the environment and why the swans need to keep moving on, and conclude with what our responsibilities are if we want to protect migrating wildlife. In this lesson, students will be actively moving through the classroom on a quest to find food throughout the seasons as swans. This lesson will support and enhance future classroom visits to Swan Haven Interpretive Centre, and is inspired by the fun energy of scavenger hunts (and the real-life journeys that Trumpeter and Tundra Swans make each year). This lesson also involves giving students the chance to try healthy snacks that may not be typical to their regular diet as part of their ‘swan role’. The intention of the lesson is to help students develop their understanding of the various reasons for seasonal migration and explore the effects of seasonal changes on species as they adapt to survive. 

            Curriculum Connections: 

            • Science K– Big Ideas: Daily and seasonal changes affect all living things.
            • Science K– Content: living things make changes to accommodate daily and seasonal cycles
            • Science 1– Big Ideas: Living things have features and behaviours that help them survive in their environment.
              • Science 1 Content: names of local plants and animals
              • Science 1 Content: behavioural adaptations of animals in the local environment
            • Physical and Health Education 1 Content: relationships between food, hydration, and health

            To view: Grade 1 Swan Haven Lesson Plan.pdf

            Lesson Plan: The Life Cycle of Trumpeter Swans- and some outdoor fun! (Grade 2)

            The Yukon Wildlife Preserve hopes to offer teachers lessons and activities that deepen and enhance the experience of visiting Swan Haven. To this end, we have created a series of grade specific lesson plans written for Yukon teachers.

            What is the life cycle of a Trumpeter Swan? What are the similarities and differences between offspring and parents? How might these differences be useful for survival? In the spring, swans are flying over parts of the Yukon and can be observed at certain locations where open water is found, such as Swan Haven Interpretive Centre at Marsh Lake, YT.

            In this Grade 2 lesson, students will begin by placing visuals of the life cycle stages of Trumpeter Swans in the correct order. This can be done collectively. The teacher will guide the students to focus next on an image of a juvenile swan and on an image of an adult. After establishing understanding with images of life cycle stages of Trumpeter Swans, students will compare and contrast images of offspring and parents, and talk about reasons for these differences, including some advantages and disadvantages (camouflage vs. standing out). In addition, students will have a choice of two active, outdoor games related to survival adaptations to support their physical health, take them outdoors, and challenge them to use their bodies differently to learn how to move silently. This lesson will support a classroom visit to Swan Haven Interpretive Centre.

            Curriculum Connections: 

            • Science 2– Big Ideas: Living things have life cycles adapted to their environment.
            • Science 2– Content: similarities and differences between offspring and parent
            • Physical and Health Education 2 Big Ideas: Learning how to participate and move our bodies in different physical activities helps us develop physical literacy.

            To view pdf: Grade 2 Swan Haven Lesson Plan.pdf

            Lesson Plan: Trumpeter Swan, or is it French Horn? (Grade 3)

            The Yukon Wildlife Preserve hopes to offer teachers lessons and activities that deepen and enhance the experience of visiting Swan Haven. To this end, we have created a series of grade specific lesson plans written for Yukon teachers.

            Graphs can be used to share or represent the opinions of a group with a single visual. After this Grade 3 math and music activity (detailed pdf below), your students may feel that Trumpeter Swans have the wrong name! In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to listen to the vocalizations of Trumpeter Swans, and to then listen to a number of musical instruments to collect ‘opinion’ data. The class will collect data indicating which musical instrument each student thinks is the closest in timbre and pitch to the call of a Trumpeter Swan and use this data to create graphs reflecting their findings. The intention of this activity is to provide an opportunity for students to hear a variety of instruments so that they can decide which they think has the closest timbre and pitch to the call of a Trumpeter Swan. This lesson complements a visit to Swan Haven Interpretive Centre, where if students are lucky in April, they can hear and see more Trumpeter Swans.

            Curriculum Connections: 

            • Mathematics 3- Content: one-to-one correspondence
              • collecting data, creating a graph, and describing, comparing, and discussing the results
              • choosing a suitable representation
            • Arts Education 3- Content: elements in the arts, including but not limited to:
              • timber: the characteristic quality of a sound independent of pitch and dynamics; tone colour
              • Pitch: how high or low a note is

            To view complete lesson plan: Grade 3 Swan Haven Lesson Plan.pdf

            Lesson Plan: The Trumpet of the Swan Novel Study (Grade 4)

            The Yukon Wildlife Preserve hopes to offer teachers lessons and activities that deepen and enhance the experience of visiting Swan Haven. To this end, we have created a series of grade specific lesson plans written for Yukon teachers.

            Using the classic E.B. White novel, The Trumpet of the Swan, in this Grade 4 novel study students will learn about the life of a fictional Trumpeter Swan. The novel incorporates a respectable amount of biological information on swan life cycles and physical characteristics. The novel can serve as a jumping off point for learning about the real swans that visit the Yukon each Spring, including the population variations throughout the past century and how humans have played a role in those fluctuations. This process will include using writing to discover and explore our relationships with nature, and taking our learning outside for immersive writing and listening moments in nature.

              This lesson will enhance past and future visits to Swan Haven Interpretive Centre by giving students the experience of reading a novel featuring one of the main species they can observe there as a main character. As a classic of Children’s Literature, this novel has much to offer for class discussion beyond the species characteristics of swans, and teachers can choose to support the students’ inquiries as the story unfolds. This can lead into a unit on endangered species, habitat conservation, to an author study of E.B. White, or in entirely different directions. May the students’ curiosity be your guide.

              Curriculum Connections: 

              • English Language Arts 4: Big Ideas- Language and text can be a source of creativity and joy.
              • English Language Arts 4: Big Ideas- Exploring stories and other texts helps us understand ourselves and make connections to others and to the world
              • English Language Arts 4: Content- Story/text- forms, functions, and genres of text
              • English Language Arts 4: Curricular Competencies- Use personal experience and knowledge to connect to text and deepen understanding of self, community, and world
              • Social Studies 4- Big Ideas: The pursuit of valuable natural resources has played a key role in changing the land, people, and communities of Canada. *What happened with the swan population?

              To view the complete lesson plan: Grade 4 Swan Haven Lesson Plan.pdf

              Further Classroom Explorations

              We’ve collected up our favourite links to classroom activities, lesson plans and resources from around the web. While not exclusively Swan Haven specific, they will allow your students to make broader global connections!

              Water Lesson Extensions

              Water is a wide-ranging topic with both local and global implications, and is one of the most urgent and pressing concerns of our time. Below we have listed our favourite links to support wider classroom units and discussions of water. 

              • Grades 2, 3, and 5: “Wetlands and the World”: The Wetlands and the World program features an activity guide consisting of a series of engaging lessons designed to increase student understanding and appreciation of wetlands and at the same time developing their English language literacy skills. This resource explores the wetlands while integrating different cultures and languages into the lessons. http://resources4rethinking.ca/en/resource/wetlands-and-the-world
              • All learning levels: “Project WET’s mission is to reach children, parents, teachers and community members of the world with water education that promotes awareness of water and empowers community action to solve complex water issues.” https://www.projectwet.org/
              • Grades 6-9: ‘Water and Diversity: Cleaning up our act’ is intended to raise awareness of the impact humans have had on aquatic ecosystems. Moreover, they are intended to make students aware of the conservation efforts that are ongoing in their communities, and to inspire hope and encourage action towards the protection of our critically important freshwater resources.” http://resources4rethinking.ca/en/resource/water-biodiversity-cleaning-up-our-act
              • Grades 8-12: Tapped out: the World Water Crisis- “Students research current issues surrounding water from both a Canadian and an international perspective. Several exercises allow them to experience through role play and discussion, the emotional issues surrounding water.” http://resources4rethinking.ca/en/resource/tapped-out-the-world-water-crisis
              • Grades 10-12: “More than 100 First Nations communities across Canada do not have clean, safe drinking water. Thirst is a glimpse into Keewaywin, an Oji-Cree community north of Red Lake, Ontario, where the water is contaminated with uranium and residents are forced to purchase expensive bottled water.” http://resources4rethinking.ca/en/resource/thirst-2
              • Grades 9-12: The Peel Watershed: Assessing the Complexities of a Land Use Issue: “In this lesson, students will use the Canadian Atlas Online to locate and gather information about the Peel Watershed. They will explore the Recommended Peel Watershed Land Use Plan to identify land use issues and different viewpoints on development in the Peel Watershed. Finally, students will develop an advertisement that expresses their personal position on the issue.” http://www.canadiangeographic.com/atlas/lessonplan.aspx?ID=LESSON223 
              • Grades 9-12: Water Music: A Creative Exploration Dedicated to the Importance of Rivers and Lakes in Our Regional Watersheds: “This lesson will explore the vital use of language (oral, written, musical, rhythmic) to convey the important role water plays in our lives. Students will be given the opportunity to explore a range of musical/lyrical/multimedia expressions to describe their understanding of the role that water/waterways/bodies of water/watersheds play in our everyday lives.” http://www.canadiangeographic.com/atlas/lessonplan.aspx?ID=LESSON217
              Migratory Bird Extensions:

              Migratory birds are master travellers. They travel great distances to find food and nesting habitat throughout the year. Here are some links to lessons and activities that can enhance understanding of the lives and needs of migratory birds.

              Swan Haven in 360

              360 videos allow you to click and drag around (if using a computer). If viewing from a phone, you can tilt and turn your phone to explore the video. For a more immersive experience, you can use a VR headset, or put your phone in something like a google cardboard.

              You can view the Swan Haven in 360 video directly on youtube, and find other educational wildlife videos on the Yukon Wildlife Preserve’s youtube channel.

              To get the most out of the video, we recommend watching on the highest resolution (that your internet connection / plan will support). Of course at higher resolutions the video will require more bandwidth. To adjust your resolution:

              Swan Haven is located at M’Clintock Bay, on Marsh Lake, Yukon Territory. This is an area of early season open water. What does this mean? It refers to the fact that early in the Spring, when many nearby bodies of water are still frozen over, this area has open water earlier than many surrounding places. This open water allows the swans to access food, and to rest as they make their way to their summer nesting grounds. This area is essential for swans and other migratory birds, and we can help them out by making sure that we give them space and let them do their thing. Trust us, they’ve got this.