Once the cold weather arrives, most people tend to spend less time outside. Children are always curious about where animals go in the winter when the snow comes. This activity helps answer their questions. We discussed animals that hibernate, but also how they hibernate or survive the winter. To do this activity, we headed outside!
I teach kindergarten, but I have done this activity through the primary grades. We bundled up and headed outside to find some animals in winter. I placed stuffed animals and figures outside along with a photo of the animal (to help make them easier to find.)
Once we found the animal, we discussed what the animal does to survive during the winter. The exact animals that I used are not important, just a variety of animals. I used these animals because my students had shown an interest in them animals over the year.
Our bear was sleeping in a ‘cave’ in our playground. I found a spot for each animal around our school yard that somewhat replicated where we would find them in the wild.
My students were quick to point out that they see squirrels during the winter. Our squirrels do not hibernate. They have adapted to the cold and are able to find, and eat, the food that they stored in the fall. They are, however, less active in the winter as a way to conserve energy.
I laid down a sheet of shiny blue fabric to look like water. We discussed how both turtles and frogs find their home for the winter in a pond. We made sure to discuss the fact that there are different types of each animal (ie. grey squirrel vs. ground squirrel) and some behave differently from each other during the winter. This activity simply shows students that different animals have different ways of surviving the winter.
Overall, it was a great activity to do outside and my students treated it like a scavenger hunt. They loved finding the animals and learning about how they survive in the winter.