How Animals Prepare for the Winter

Deperessed and posing bear
photo © 2010 Tambako The Jaguar | more info (via: Wylio)

Willa, a Bright Hub lesson plan contributor, has written a wonderful lesson for teaching your kindergartners about animals and their special abilities for preparing for the winter and taking care of themselves. You'll discuss various concepts like hibernation, food storage, growing thicker fur, etc., building vocabulary and problem solving skills in the process.

Lesson Introduction

Willa suggests reading Carls R. Sams II and Jean Stoick's Stranger in the Woods as an introduction to the lesson. The book contains pictures of real animals in their winter habitat. You might also consider searching online for pictures of animals, then creating a slide show for your students to view and discuss.

Introduce the concept of hibernation and brainstorm other ways in which animals prepare for the cold winter months (i.e. birds migrate to warmer climates, bears and other mammals adapt by growing thicker fur, etc.). Keep a list of each child's contribution to the discussion.

Hibernation Station

Next, Willa suggests reading Denise Fleming's Time to Sleep and gathering materials for your students to make their own hibernation diorama. Consider also an exercise in pretend play. Ask your students to brainstorm items that they would need to build a cozy den if they were to hibernate. Collect blankets, pillows, cushions, and all the fixings for a kid-friendly "hibernation station", turn the lights down low, and have a fun snack while Fleming's or another recommended story:

  • Wake Me in Spring by James Preller.
  • Animals Prepare for Winter by Elaine Pascoe.
  • Sleepy Bear by Lydia Dadcovich
  • Sleepy Bears by Mem Fox
  • The Animals' Winter Sleep by Lynda Graham-Barber and Nancy Carol Willis.

Hibernation Math & Science

  • Make a bar graph of days in hibernation to find out which animal hibernates the longest? Shortest?
  • Compare an animal's heart rate while hibernating to its normal heart rate.
  • Practice counting with teddy grahams and cave counting mats.
  • Complete the bear hibernation experiment (a folded newspaper bear cutout will unfold when placed in warm water just like bears "wake up" when warmer weather comes).

For more lesson ideas, be sure to visit Willa's full post at BrightHub!