Kids are curious about how animals survive in cold weather. The question is a good one and prompts thinking and more questions such as “how do the animals find food?”
Hibernation, especially, is a fascinating topic to discuss with children and covers a wide array of subjects. I created a winter animals preschool theme. Here is how I introduced my preschoolers to winter animals:
How Do Animals Hibernate?
Such a good question and with a scientifically remarkable answer! Briefly, hibernation is a way for animals to survive the cold winter months. It involves a deep sleep, which causes the heart’s rate to slow and the body’s temperature to decrease.
Related Resource: Simple Bear Craft for a Winter or Hibernation Unit
Therefore, these animals don’t use much energy during this time. Animals who hibernate remain “warm” during the winter, or, to put it another way, animals don’t freeze to death. Their bodies, with a thick winter coat and all the energy-saving tactics, find ways to survive.
Check out this video for a fun explanation:
Winter Animals – Hibernation Activity for Preschoolers
When: I introduced this work at circle time.
Materials: My printables shop offers beautiful Animals in the Winter Montessori cards to download. I printed and laminated the cards on card stock for safekeeping. I figured we’d use these cards for a few years at least.
How: The activity is a matching and sorting activity. First, we used the control page that breaks out hibernating, migrating, and adapting animals in three columns. We talked about “Migration”, “Hibernation” and “Adaptation”.
We talked about each animal in each column. Then I gave a mini three-period lesson to my 3.5-year-old on the names of the animals. Once I felt he had a good grasp of the names, we moved onto the sorting. Using the images only, my 3.5-year-old sorted the animals into their respective columns.
Extensions: I also gave him a basket of figurines to match the image. For additional language learning, there are name labels included in this printout. So if you want to make the activity a step further, give the child an opportunity to match the label to the image too.
Camouflage Activity for Preschoolers
When: I introduced this work at a separate circle time.
Materials: Once again, Montessori Print Shop offers beautiful camouflage cards to download. They offer three different sets of camouflaged animals. Once again, I printed and laminated the cards on card stock for safekeeping for the next several years of use.
How: The activity is a matching activity. First, we talked about camouflage and why animals might need the ability to become camouflage. Then, we went through the cards with the animals, not in camouflage and named them.
Finally, we looked at the cards with the animals in camouflage and together paired them with the appropriate match. Then I asked my son if he would like a turn. He went through it a few times and then we placed the cards in the science area of our learning space.
Extensions: I also gave him a basket of figurines to match the image. We also went on walks and hid various figurines to camouflage them. That was very hands-on, got our bodies moving, and was a lot of fun!
Children’s Books about Winter Animals
Online Resources for Winter Animal Learning
- This regional library in Virginia gives a wonderful overview of hibernation for kids and lists several resources for further exploration.
- I love these images of hibernating animals from Earth Rangers.
- National Geographic for Kids has a few posts on hibernating animals.
- Erin from Royal Baloo has a wonderful Arctic Animal Packet for download
- Cerys at Rainy Day Mum has a fun Hedgehog & Hibernation Craft
- Cassie from 3 Dinosaurs offers a fun FREE downloadable packet: Bear Snores On
- Anna at The Imagination Tree has an adorable Sensory Basket exploring Hedgehog Hibernation
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