Learn about hibernation, run around a lot, be creative, work on sorting, categorizing, counting and number writing.
Large cardboard box, or ‘den’ (procured beforehand from a furniture store)
Glue, tape, markers.
Download and print the Hibernation Activity Sheet, one for each child.
Download and print the Food Cards, cut as many as needed.
Book: Time to Sleep by Denise Flemming (Note: I’m sure there are better Hibernation books out there, I was not impressed with this one, it’s just all our library had in).
Optional: Have them bring a toy bear or other ‘hibernating animal’ for show-and-tell. I had them bring bears.
1. Read: Time to Sleep by Denise Flemming
2. Discuss: What does it mean to hibernate? What kind of animals hibernate? Why do they hibernate? Do you wish you could hibernate?
3. Explain: Hibernation is when an animal slows its body down for a long time, often during winter. Lots of different animals hibernate, not just bears: snails, skunks, turtles, woodchucks, ladybugs etc. Animals hibernate because in the winter it’s hard for them to find enough food.
Imaginative and Food Gathering Activity:
- Tell the kids it’s time to pretend they’re bears. Have them crawl around and act like bears (if you dare).
- Tell them that winter is coming and have everyone crawl into the ‘den’ (cardboard box) for their long winters nap. Have them pretend to be sleeping.
- While they’re ‘sleeping’ sprinkle the plant and insect cards on the floor or in the yard outside the den.
- Pretty soon the weather starts to get warmer, and the bears slowly wake up. Their hungry! And look, spring is here! That means there are lots of plants (leaves, grasses, herbs) and insects (grub worms, larvae, ants, termites) for them to eat.
- Have the kids come out of the den and gather as many plants and insects as they can (note, don’t put out more food than can fit on their graph, I put out about 3-4 cards per child in hopes that everyone would get at least one, but no more than 5).
- Have them set the food cards they gathered next to their toy hibernating animal.
- Ask the kids to go back into the den. Have them pretend that spring has passed them by, have them tell you all the things that they as ‘bears’ did that spring. While they’re talking sprinkle the berry cards on the ground.
- Tell them that now summer has come, and it’s time to start looking for delicious fruit and berries (blackberries, elderberries, raspberries, wild cherries) to eat.
- As before, have them gather the cards and set them in the appropriate spot.
- Repeat steps 5-7 for fall, have them gather nuts (acorns, pecans, walnuts, hickory nuts) and small animals (mice, peccaries, beaver, muskrats even young deer).
- Now it’s winter time again, time to go to sleep. But first, lets see if we’ve eaten enough food to get fat enough to hibernate all winter.
I let the kids play in the box for ‘recess’ at this point. They played ‘bears’ on their own for about 20 minutes before we started the sorting activity.
Sorting Activity (see chart above)
- Have the kids practice writing numbers by tracing in 1-5 along the left hand side.
- Ask the kids to sort their cards into piles. All the berries, plants etc.
- Give each kid a glue stick and have them glue the cards in the appropriate column (note: I had to help the 3 year olds with this, the 4-5 year olds did it fine on their own, worked best to ALL do the plants, then ALL do the nuts, etc.)
Discuss (over snacks of ‘bear food’ berries, nuts etc): Do you think you got enough food to survive the winter? Do you wish you could sleep all winter? Do you think you would like going out and gathering your own food?
Re-Cap what you’ve learned about hibernation.
The following day we took a walk to see if we could observe other winter animal homes.
Note: I also came across this lesson plan on hibernation. More great ideas.