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Why do bears hibernate?
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DISCUSS:

Why do you think bears hibernate in the winter?

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Overview
Grade K-5
Topic Current Events And Trending Topics
Focus Adaptations & Behavior
Print Prep
Activity Prep

NOTE: This is our Winter activity from 2019. It’s possible your students did this last year, but we think it would be fun to do it again! You can also choose from our other Winter mini-lessons and activities.
In this mini-lesson, students reason about why some animals hibernate and others do not. In the activity, Get Ready to Hibernate, students play a memory card game where they pretend to be bears searching for food. As they play the game, they consider how different foods might affect bears as they prepare for their winter hibernation.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Advanced Game (Grades 3-5) worksheet Print 15 copies
Basic Game (Grades K-2) worksheet Print 15 copies
Bear Food (All Grades) worksheet Print 15 copies
Prep Instructions

We suggest students work in pairs. Homeschool students will need a partner to play the game.

Basic vs. Advanced Game Versions

In both versions, students play a memory game where they need to find matching cards with food items that bears eat to prepare for hibernation. The only difference is that in the advanced game, students assign point values to each food item and then add up their points at the end of the round.

In the advanced version, students will write the following points on the food cards.

Salmon = 20 | Trout = 18 | Strawberries = 3 | Blueberries = 4
Acorns = 12 | Hazelnuts = 14 | Beetle grubs (larvae) = 8 | Ant eggs = 7

Bonus Round (Optional)

If your students would like to continue playing the game and want an additional challenge, you can tell them that not all bears live in habitats where fish live. How would that change the game? For older students, you can also present them with a hypothetical scenario where humans have built a dam in the nearby river. How might that affect which foods the bears are able to eat? If fish can’t swim upriver to spawn, how will that change the game?

Teacher Background

In the advanced version of the game, students are asked to consider which foods will provide bears with the most energy. Although we do not discuss Calories, below are the approximate Calorie counts for each food item in the game, in case you or your students are curious.

Sockeye salmon (1 pound) — 1066 Calories (208 Calories per 100 grams)
Cutthroat trout (1 pound) — 640 Calories (141 Calories per 100 grams)

Hazelnuts (100 grams) — 628 Calories
Acorns (100 grams) — 387 Calories

Ant Eggs* (100 grams) — 562 Calories
Beetle Grubs* (100 grams) — 370 Calories

Blueberry (100 grams) — 57 Calories
Strawberry (100 grams) — 33 Calories

*This information is based on crickets and caterpillars, edible insects with nutritional values that are more easily accessible.

Overview
Grade K-5
Topic Current Events And Trending Topics
Focus Adaptations & Behavior
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