Animals in the Winter


How do different animals react to the arrival of winter? In this picture book, children will learn the difference between migrating creatures, such as butterflies, and hibernating creatures, such as woodchucks. They’ll also discover how the animals that stay local and awake during winter must struggle to find food.

Introduce New Vocabulary:

There are three basic ways that animals will prepare for winter. Introduce these three new vocabulary words one at a time. For younger age groups you may spend one or two days on each before adding a new concept. Either way, plan to review each new concept several times during your fall science lesson plans.

Migration: Flying to warmer climates. Many birds and butterflies fly south for winter.

It is very helpful to show students a map and mark where you live as well a show a migration pattern of where birds and butterflies will go. Examples, Monarch butterflies may fly to Mexico and geese may fly to Florida.

During outside playtime in fall, encourage students to watch for groups of migrating birds. It can even be helpful to mark south on the playground with an arrow and a big “S” to introduce direction.

Hibernation: Many mammals such hibernate, or sleep for the winter, to rest while food is hard to find. Many reptiles, such as turtles, hibernate under the mud. Many amphibians hibernate under the mud as well.

Explore more. Why is food harder to find in winter?

Adaptations: Animals can also make adaptations, or changes, to survive the winter. Some examples include mammals like deer, get thicker fur and other like the weasel even change colors from brown to white to hide in the snow.

Create Your Own Den

For hibernation, cover a small table or coffee table with blankets and have the kids crawl underneath so they have an idea of what a den might feel like for a hibernating animal.  Ask them — is it warm?  what does it sound like in the den?  is it light or dark?  could you sleep there?

Migrate Around Your Neighborhood

Migration is really just a big move from one location to another.  But for a small animal, it’s quite a long journey.  Take the kids on a walk but have them pretend to be geese.  Ask them to flap their arms to fly as you walk.  How long before their arms are tired?  Let them know that geese and hummingbirds have to fly hundreds of miles during their migration.

Foraging for Food

The kids will love this one!  Put some crackers or other snack in a plastic ziploc bag and hide them around the house or somewhere in your yard.  Explain to the kids that animals need to find extra food to prepare for winter so they must search all over to collect items they can store in their nests or eat before they hibernate or begin their migration.  Then have them search to find their snack bags!


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