Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Don't Wake The Bear! Let's Learn About Hibernation!

   Today was our first day back to school after our winter break and we are learning about animals that take a little break of their own during the winter. We are learning about hibernation! We talk about some of the many animals that we've learned about that hibernate---bears, some turtles, frogs, squirrels, rodents, skunks, bats, groundhogs, raccoons, and even some snakes and insects.  Tomorrow, we will make an anchor chart of these animals.

One of the favorite activities for hibernation with some of our "builders" is to have students build caves for the counting bears with legos. Somehow, I can't find a decent picture to share here but I will try to come back and add one later. We have also used marshmallows to build caves for gummy bears.

One of our math activities is making some simple caves with brown paper bags and having the students roll a dice to add the appropriate number of counting bears (or gummy bears, for even more interest). At the end, each student lifts the cave up and counts the total number of bears to compare with classmates.

Gummy bear graphing is another fun way to sneak a little math into learning about bears and hibernation.

Years ago, I made this little hibernation flannelboard set to go along with a little story I picked up somewhere. I think it may be from Jean Warren*(but I'm not sure).

The Bear and the Mountain
  by Jean Warren*
There once was a mountain
Who lived all alone.
He had no friends--
Not even a phone.
He smiled at planes
High in the sky.
But none of them stopped
As they flew by.
All through the winter
He was covered in snow
Then during summer
Wildflowers would grow.
He often saw people
Who came just to play.
But no one who came
Wanted to stay.
They were too busy---
Too much on the go.
Up they would climb,
Then down they would flow.
Then one fine day
Something paused and sighed.
As it huffed and it puffed
Up the mountain’s side.
Slowly up the mountain
Came a little brown bear
Wearing wildflowers
in her soft fuzzy hair.
“Hello, Big Mountain,
How do you do?
Can I please stay
This summer with you?”
“Of course,” said the mountain,
“It will be fun.
Run all you like
On my tummy-tum-tum.”
Little Bear was happy---
The mountain was, too.
Having a friend
Was something quite new.
Little Bear would race
Up the mountain’s side.
Then tumble and roll
And slip and slide.
All through the summer
Their friendship grew,
But then one day
The cold winds blew.
Now Little Bear
Knew that she had to go
Before the mountain
Was covered in snow.
“Please don’t go,”
The mountain cried.
“I’ll make a safe place
Where you can hide.”
He rumbled and rolled
And then cupped his arm
To make a warm shelter
All safe from harm.
Now Little Bear
Had a new home.
Now she would never
Have to roam.
Let the snow come---
She didn’t care.
She had a home
Just right for a bear.
The bear and the mountain
Were a sight to see,
Each with a friend,
Living happily.

Another one of our favorite activities is the "Hibernation Game", The children pretend to be hibernating. I give them a direction to wake up if they hear a certain cue. We start with using the names of animals that hibernate or don't hibernate. Sometimes, I will call out activities that will happen during the year. If a bear would miss it because of hibernation, they stay asleep, if they would not be hibernating during that time of year, they pop up and are "awake". Sometimes, I use pairs of words and rhyming words are the ones that will "wake the bears". The children love, love, love this game, so we find lots of ways to change it up and incorporate a variety of skills and knowledge.

Hibernation is part of a larger winter unit that we learn about. No winter unit would be complete without snow. We don't get very much snow in our area so we have to make our own snow activities and pretend that it is the real thing. One of the things we do frequently is using shaving cream "snow" as a sensory and fine motor experience. 

I saw this idea yesterday in one of our toddler rooms and thought it was brilliant! The toddlers will, of course, put everything into their mouths, so they are using whipped topping just as you would with shaving cream. The kids loved it!

Here are some of my favorite books about hibernation. Affiliate links are included for your convenience. 

Thanks for stopping by! Sending warm winter wishes from sunny (but chilly!) Georgia! 

**This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.  little illuminations is a participant in the Amazon Srvices LLC Associates Program, an affliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to **

I'm thrilled to say I have been blogging here on PreK+K Sharing since the very beginning!  I am a Ga. Pre-K teacher, serving 4 and 5 year olds in an inclusive setting. Stop by and visit me anytime at where I share my PreK classroom adventures or visit the little illuminations fanpage on facebook! And be sure to check out PreK+K Sharing EEE!

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