As fall continues, many animals began the process of hibernation. During the summer, they eat to gain weight. During the early fall, they make nests or build dens. Then as temperatures get colder, they settle in for a long winter’s nap.
Use this free hibernation unit study to help your kids learn about what happens during hibernation, which animals do it, and how they protect themselves as they sleep!
What is Hibernation?
Read the facts about hibernation at http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/fun-hibernation-facts and then ask the kids to answer the following questions:
- What happens to an animal when it hibernates? (Answer: It goes into a long sleep.)
- What do some animals do to prepare for hibernation? (Answer: They eat to gain weight and make nests.)
- Do all animals that hibernate sleep for the entire winter? (Answer: No. Some do, but others wake up for a short time.)
- What keeps animals from getting too cold as they hibernate? (Answer: They have special controls in their body that wake them up if the weather gets too cold.)
Which Animals Hibernate for the Winter?
Despite popular opinion, mammals are not the only animals that hibernate: some reptiles and insects do too! Look at the following resource and then ask your kids to write down 10 animals that hibernate for the winter:
- Horsehoe bat
- Brown bear
- Polar bear
- Chinese alligator
- Grass snake
- Marsh frog
- Purple emperor butterfly
- Garden snail
How Does Bear Hibernation Work?
Bears hibernate longer than many other animals. Watch the following video about bear hibernation and then ask the kids to answer these questions:
- What is one reason why bears hibernate? (Answer: Food supplies run low, so they sleep until spring.)
- How do bears know it’s time to go to sleep? (Answer: Shorter days cause bears’ bodies to release hormones that make them sleepy.)
- How much does a bear’s heartrate decline during hibernation? (Answer: From 90 to 8 beats per minute.)
- How long do bears hibernate? (Answer: Seven months.)
- Where do bears sleep during hibernation? (Answer: In a den.)
- Why do bears sleep lightly during hibernation? (Answer: So they can wake up if a predator threatens them.)
Books about Hibernation
Learn about hibernation and hibernating animals with these great fiction and non-fiction books for kids!
- A Bed for the Winter by Karen Wallace
- Hibernation by Margaret Hall
- Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
- Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows
For even more fall unit studies, check out our other unit studies here!