One look out the window on most winter days and your first instinct is to crawl right back into bed and curl up like a ball. But as cozy as that sounds, its not always an option.
We are left to embrace the chilly winter days by adapting to them; poofy jackets, warm boots, wooly hats, furry mittens, snow pants, scarves, ear-muffs – you name it, before you know it, you’re barely recognizable.
But what do animals do during the long and cold winter months? How do they survive? And where are they?
Peek-a-Boo, Why Don’t I See You – Animals in Winter, is a poem I wrote to help children understand how various animals cope during the winter. It introduces the concepts of hibernation, migration and adaptation.
A fun and memorable way to acquaint students with the vocabulary is to form associations with them. (If you enjoy acting every now and then, this is a good time to show off those skills). I began by telling my students that I have a team of ‘scientists’ that will be working with us. I told them that my name was Bernate and asked them to wave and say hi to me, (hence hi-Bernate). Then I pretended to fall asleep (hibernating teacher). They seemed perplexed at first, but smiled when they understood what I was doing. Next, I introduced my pretend assistant named Grate (an invisible bird sitting on my hand) and gestured that he is only mine, (hence my-Grate). Then I pretended to catch him as he attempted to fly away (migrating assistant). Finally, I added our last participant to the mix – a very furry fox named Apt, (add-apt). There I had it, the terminology (and basic meaning) that students would need for the unit was now easily accessible with simple gestures as cues. (I can’t help but smile when I see my students mimicking the gestures I associated with the terms).
Peek-a-Boo, Why Don’t I See You? Animals in Winter by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Here are some fun related activities I created and plan to share with my students throughout our exploration of Animals in Winter. I hope you enjoy incorporating them into your classroom adventures as well.
While we’ve enjoyed reading many fiction and non-fiction books about Winter Animals, we have equally enjoyed filling a class chart on animals that hibernate, migrate and adapt. Though our list continues to grow each day, I selected various animals to be used in a follow-up sorting activity (sample here).
Students colour, cut, and paste various animals into the appropriate place in the winter wonderland scene.
Sleepy Bear Students use
various craft items (i.e., tissue paper, cotton balls, construction paper, paper bags, twigs, popsicle sticks, and whatever else you can find around your room) to create a home for a sleepy bear. You may or may not want to tell students in advance how these items can be used. I personally enjoy watching what students come up with when they are given free choice, but I do give them a starting point.
Where is Baby Bear? An exercise in visual discrimination. Students colour, cut and order the bears according to size. (This might be a good follow-up to Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and a nice review or else introduction to the concept of size).
Writing Template In addition to having this template available in our Writing and Art centre, I also plan to use it as a follow-up activity after introducing the story, Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See? Students will draw and write about something they like to do (introduction to action words), and we will turn these into a class book – our classroom adaptation of a classic.
Sample text/story starter: Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?
Student: I see Maya singing.
Animals in Winter – Sorting Cards After making a chart and compiling a list of animals that hibernate, migrate and adapt, students sort the animals into the various groups (have the chart handy to allow students to cross-reference).
Fishing Rod Art Students decorate a fish template and then cut it out (some of my students were eager to make two or three). Help students punch a hole in the inner part of the mouth and tie a string/yarn around it. Tie the other end of the yarn to a straw or stick. This might be a fun time to introduce the Song, 1 2 3 4 5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive and encourage them to sing along with their own fishing rod.
Gone Fishing A way to assess student’s one-to-one matching, counting and number skills (download includes 2 templates: 1-10 for JK and 1-30 for SK).
To download a copy of the poem, Peek-a-Boo, Why Don’t I See You? along with the cross-curricular extension activities seen above, for your personal use in the classroom, click on the image below.
Construction Site To keep the learning going I placed stuffed animals and other small animal figurines on a table with a sign that says We Need a Home. I gathered various building supplies (boxes, clear containers, construction paper, paper towels, cotton balls, paper bags, popsicle sticks, twigs) and asked students to come up with ways to build burrows, dens, caves and other winter homes for our animals. I encouraged students to continue creating homes at the common centres as well (i.e., blocks, legos, play-dough, sand, etc.). I invited students to draw, paint, and craft winter homes for animals while they were at the art, painting and writing centres as well.
Here is a diorama of a cave I created. I used to show students how we can use various everyday objects to create and mimic real life objects and scenarios
(i.e., cotton balls for snow, crinkled paper bag for cave).
Here are some of my students’ creations…
Bunny sleeping in a burrow
Hedgehog having a party
Hibernation station nesting snake
Poster: bear is sleeping!
Frog in the bottom of a lake Beaver lodge Bear in a den
making our own book about bears
Bunny in a Burrow
our hibernation station
Our Classroom cave
Every idea seemed to inspire another, so we were never truly done (the beauty of Kindergarten). That being said, this is just the beginning – I hope to add more of my students’ work and share other ideas and resources (please do come back and visit us every so often).
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Here are some wonderful picture book resources to share with your students as you continue your exploration on Animals in Winter.
Animals in Winter (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science)
by Henrietta Bancroft & Richard G. Van Gelder
While watching winter’s snows blanket the Earth, what child hasn’t wondered, ‘What will the rabbits do? Or the birds?’ This wonderfully simple Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science book explains the many ways animals have of coping with harsh weather. Helen K. Davie’s elegant illustrations perfectly evoke the season.
Bear Snores On
by Karma Wilson
Margaret K. McElderry Books
One by one, a whole host of different animals and birds find their way out of the cold and into Bear’s cave to warm up. But even after the tea has been brewed and the corn has been popped, Bear just snores on!
See what happens when he finally wakes up and finds his cave full of uninvited guests — all of them having a party without him!
by Jan Brett
In Jan Brett’s well-loved book, The Hat, Hedgie the hedgehog discovers the wisdom of the adage “Don’t go poking your nose where it doesn’t belong” only after curiosity gets this prickly fellow in a pickle. When Lisa’s red-and-white woolen stocking blows off the clothesline, Hedgie finds it and sticks his nose inside, only to discover his prickles prevent him from pulling out of it. Soon all the farm animals are coming around to chuckle at silly Hedgie’s stocking cap. But in the end, nimble-witted Hedgie gets the last laugh.
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
by Bill Martin Jr.
Henry Holt and Co.
What will you hear when you read this book to a preschool child?
Lots of noise!
Children will chant the rhythmic words. They’ll make the sounds the animals make. And they’ll pretend to be the zoo animals featured in the book– look at the last page!
Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle are two of the most respected names in children’s education and children’s illustrations. This collaboration, their first since the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? (published more than thirty years ago and still a best-seller) shows two masters at their best.
A Redbook Children’s Picture Book Award winner
When Winter Comes
by Nancy Van Laan
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Where oh where do the leaves all go when winter comes and the cold winds blow?
What happens to fish, flowers, field mice, and other living things when ponds freeze and the air turns blustery? Walk with a curious child and his parents as winter’s first snow falls and find out….
Who’s Been Here?: A Tale in Tracks
by Fran Hodgkins
Down East Books
In this fun-filled and informative book, we take a winter walk with a rambunctious golden retriever Willy. Of course he leaves his paw prints in the snow. But there are other tracks, too, and none of them matches his. One by one, we find out what animals they belong to: a cat, a gull, a raccoon, a snowshoe hare, a bear, a moose, and-uh oh!-a skunk!
The Very Cranky Bear
by Nick Bland
When four friends encounter a cranky bear, Moose, Lion and Zebra all think they know how to cheer him up. But it is plain, boring Sheep who has the answer.
by Michelle Meadows, Kurt Cyrus (Illustrator)
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Everybody at the station! It’s time for winter hibernation! The sweet rhyming text of this book will calm even the most rambunctious kids and have them dreaming about what it’s like to hibernate. Young readers will be soothed and delighted as this story introduces them to different types of hibernating animals. The creatures on the train are preparing to snuggle into sleep, although with a passenger list that includes chipmunks, bears, snakes, hedgehogs, groundhogs, frogs, turtles, mice, bats, and more, there’s a lot of noise! Will the hibernating critters ever get to sleep? Take a trip to Hibernation Station to find out!
Ten In The Den
by John Butler
Peachtree Pub Ltd
Deep in the den, ten sleepy animals snuggle down for the night… But how can they sleep when fidgety Little Mouse can’t get comfortable? This bedtime book features baby animals, a simple counting element, and is based upon a children’s favourite nursery rhyme.
Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy
by Carl R. Sams II, Jean Stoick
Carl R. Sams II Photography
Who is this Stranger? Why did he arrive after a winter storm and what wonderful surprises does he bring?Your children will love this photographic fantasy created by two noted wildlife photographers.
You’ll discover this tale is beta-carotene for the spirit in everyone.
Over and Under the Snow
by Kate Messner, Christopher Silas Neal (Illustrator)
Over the snow, the world is hushed and white.
But under the snow exists a secret kingdom of squirrels and snow hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals that live through the winter safe and warm, awake and busy, under the snow.
Discover the wonder and activity that lies beneath winter’s snowy landscape in this magical book.
Time to Sleep
by Denise Fleming
Henry Holt and Co.
“Bear sniffed once.
She sniffed twice.
‘I smell winter in the air. . . .'”
A chill is in the air and Bear knows it is time for her winter nap. But first, she must tell Snail. And Snail must tell Skunk. And Skunk must tell Turtle. Each animal who tries to put off going to sleep just a little longer sees, smells, hears, or tastes the signs of the impending season. Finally, Ladybug rushes off to tell Bear–already asleep in her cave–the exciting news.
Time to Sleep is a perfect bedtime story, one that is sure to warm the heart in any season anywhere.
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
by Michael Rosen, Helen Oxenbury
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Come along on a bear hunt in this award-winning classic from Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury.
We’re going on a bear hunt. We’re going to catch a big one.
Will you come too? For more than twenty-five years readers have been swishy swashing and splash sploshing through this award-winning favorite. Join in the fun!
I hope you enjoy the activities above and find warmth in crafting them with your students. Please feel free to come back and share your creations with us.
P.S. There are only 52 days left to spring
This is such a clever idea! I loved the snowy picture of the window and then wanted to curl up with a good story and that’s exactly what you proposed. We have snow this morning in my part of the world, and this made it seem much more pleasant and magical than I’d thought a few hours ago when I first looked outside and knew I’d have to drive in it. Thanks for that. 🙂
Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback – hope your drive in carried some of the magic with it 🙂