Once the cold weather arrives, most people tend to spend less time outside. However, children tend to be curious about where animals go in the winter, which animals hibernate and how other animals survive the winter. This activity helps answer their questions.
There are many animals that children see throughout the year that they then don’t see in winter. What happens to them? Are these the animals that hibernate?
To do this activity, we headed outside!
I teach kindergarten, but I have done this activity with older children as well. Kids of all ages will enjoy learning about animals that hibernate with this scavenger hunt activity.
It can also work as a great culminating activity at the end of a unit on winter animals. Children can look for the animals and then tell you what that animal does to survive the cold. For more printable hibernation activities, check out this hibernation unit study, and free printable coloring pages.
Animals that Hibernate Materials
When I did this activity, I used plastic animals figures, or stuffed animals to represent each animal in the hunt since we were not looking for real animals.
You don’t need to specifically have animal figures, you can simply print a picture of each (and ideally laminate so that it lasts in the snow.)
The animals you will need for the Animals in Winter scavenger hunt.
You will also need a copy of Animals in Winter printable scavenger hunt. There is a link to my FREE printable at the bottom of this post.
The printable includes a very brief, and simplified, description of what each of the animals do in the winter.
I tried to use a variety of animals, and animals that the children I was teaching had shown an interest in.
Not all of the animals in the scavenger hunt are animals that hibernate. Rather, children will learn about a variety of different things that animals do to survive the winter.
Animals that Hibernate Scavenger Hunt
Before going outside with the children I hid the animals outside. I tried to hide the animals in places similar to where you may find them in winter.
For example, I placed the turtle in a container and covered it with plastic wrap. The container was then placed on a blue, silky, piece of fabric that looks a bit like water. Some types of turtles dig and spend the winter in water.
I have done this activity a few time and found that beyond placing the animal outside, I also made a sign with a picture of the animal so that it was easier to find and locate from a distance.
I wanted children to not only find the animals that hibernate, but I also wanted them to discover what some other animals do in winter.
Once all of the animals are placed, and you have printed the scavenger hunt sheets, you are ready for kids to discover what animals do in winter.
Animals in Winter Scavenger Hunt
We bundled up and headed outside to find some animals in winter!
I gave each child a scavenger hunt sheet and a pencil. We started by talking a little bit about the animals on the sheet.
We talked about which animals they see during the winter and where they think they are. I kept a copy of “Animals in Winter” information sheet to talk to children about each animal as we found them.
We then started walking around outside. As children saw one of the animal signs, we all walked over to the sign to discover an animal in winter.
Once we got to the animal, we made a circle around them and discussed what we saw. Was the animal burrowed down? Was the animal in a tree? What is the significance of where we found them?
You can choose to not use the scavenger hunt sheet and even use different animals for the scavenger hunt. The specific animals are not what is important, but rather for children to simply understand that there are lots of different things that animals do to survive the winter.
One of the children’s favourite animals was the bear. I used a teddy bear and created a den for the bear under a slide on our playground. Children were adorable by being very quiet to not wake the bear.
We talked about the fact that bears are not true hibernators. They wake, eat and even have their young during the winter. Like most animals though, they slow down and their body adapts to the cold and allows them to survive.
My students were quick to point out that they sometimes see squirrels during the winter. Some squirrels do hibernate, but where I live they 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.
Children remained engaged throughout this whole scavenger hunt. They were excited each time they found the next animal and were happy to learn a little bit about what they do in the winter.
Children being able to be outside, and active, increased their involvement and interest in this lesson.
This activity is a great way to introduce children to animals that hibernate, and adapt to the cold in the winter.
The sheet that I used for our scavenger hunt is available for FREE so that you can quickly and easily do this scavenger hunt.
I hope that you get a chance to get outside, and try out the scavenger hunt.
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More Hands-On Teaching Ideas
If you enjoyed the “Animals that Hibernate” scavenger hunt, you will enjoy some of the hands-on learning activities below. They are a collection of some of my most popular and engaging activities for kids.