According to Planet Science, they’ve got three choices:
- Hibernate: Hibernation is like a very deep sleep. Animals, such as black bears, hide away in a den. Their body temperature and heart rate slow down. This helps them to save their energy. Hibernating animals wake up in spring when the weather is warmer and there is more food around.
- Adapt: Animals that adapt to the cold weather often change their appearance. They grow warmer fur or feathers and sometimes change color. Some animals, like the Snowshoe Hare, change color to camouflage themselves against the snow. These animals can find food in winter, even though there isn’t much food around.
- Migrate: Would you like to go somewhere warm for the winter? That’s what migrating animals do. They fly, swim, or walk to a warmer place where they can find food.
Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration provides enough information for a whole unit about migration.
The featured species offer a broad representation of migration: loggerhead turtles, monarch butterflies, manatees, ruby-throated hummingbirds, Pacific salmon, Canada geese, California gray whales, caribou, Arctic tern, and emperor penguin.
Click here for a pdf of activities about migration from the National Science Teacher’s Association.
OUTSIDE: Over in the Arctic
Arctic Animals have adapted to a cold climate. Students singalong as they learn about arctic animals and their babies in Over in the Arctic Where the Cold Wind Blows.
Use this activities page to choose one of the outside activities under “Let it Snow.” Illustrations in the book are made from cut paper art. Use these suggestions for using decorative paper to make animal collages with your students.
More COLD Facts and Fun
- Explore the effects winter weather and cold climates have on living things. Scholastic’s activities cover various student groupings, subjects and skills, grades, extension ideas, and assessment suggestions.
- Ms. Frizzle has a lesson plan about keeping warm in winter with insulation. Use it as a stand-alone, or with the book The Magic School Bus in the Arctic.
While most of us were celebrating Thanksgiving and/or Hanukkah on Thursday, an icy comet named ISON was making history as it swept about 730,00 miles over the sun’s fiery surface—that’s close!
It is this burning off of dust and gas that reflects sunlight and gives the comet its radiance as it passes by the sun, creating a tail that can stretch for thousands of miles.
Most comets are in the outer part of our solar system. When they get close enough for us to see, scientists study them for clues about how our solar system formed.
INSIDE: Make a Comet
This lesson, from Dark Skies, Bright Kids, can be adapted for all ages.
For younger students or limited time/space, the instructor can build a single comet to show everyone else.
OUTSIDE: See for Yourself
The Goddard Space Flight Center reports, “Skygazers can plan on seeing the comet come Dec 1. “It would be low in the sky early in the morning,” Young said. “Each day it will go higher in the sky and be visible earlier in the morning, closer to midnight. By the 17th it will be up or around the Big Dipper and should be visible closer to midnight.”
The BBC advices, “Binoculars are probably the best way to locate the comet at the start of December but take care to make sure the sun is below the horizon when sweeping around. NEVER observe the sun through any form of optical instrument. Permanent blindness can result.”
MORE FACTS and FUN with COMETS and the UNIVERSE
Most comets are in the outer part of our solar system. When they get close enough for us to see, scientists study them for clues about how our solar system formed. Discover more about the formation of the Universe in Born with a Bang by Jennifer Morgan. It’s the first in a trilogy! Book 2 is From Lava to Life and Book 3 is Mammals Who Morph.
Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell endorsed these books, “When returning from the Moon, I experienced directly and emotionally the personal connection to the Universe described by Jennifer Morgan.”
Turkey is usually the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals. The question is, “What role did it serve in the ‘first thanksgiving’ in 1621? According to historians, the answer is, “While there’s no question that a harvest meal was held in Plymouth Colony, there’s no direct evidence that a turkey made the menu. The one surviving document that mentions this feast suggests that the bird on the table (or probably many birds) was likely goose or duck.”
Turkeys are certainly an important of our current Thanksgiving celebration and, more importantly, of our environment. These unusual birds have made a successful comeback due to conservation efforts throughout the U.S. Find out more at Audubon Magazine.
If there was ever a perfect children’s book for this season it’s Gobble, Gobble. The main character, Jenny, is a young backyard naturalist who follows a flock of “funny-looking birds with big strong feet”—Wild Turkeys! She learns about these amazing birds and your students can learn about them, too, through rhyme and illustrations.
INSIDE: Thankful Thoughts
There are lots of cool facts about turkeys. Read some of these to your students to give them a new appreciation for this amazing bird. Afterwards, invite your students to create a collage (as in Gobble, Gobble) to illustrate an aspect of nature they’re especially thankful for—a tree, flower, river, or maybe even a turkey!
Get collage ideas (and LOTS more) in this activities packet.
OUTSIDE: The Flour Trick
Near your home, sift flour onto the ground where you suspect animals pass by. Scatter seeds (or appropriate food for the animals in your community) on and around the flour-dusted area. Come back the next day to see if any animals have visited. Are there tracks? Can you identify them? What story do they tell?
More Facts and Fun with Thanksgiving
History books often focus on the Pilgrim story and omit Wampanoag history. Find out more about the indigenous people at the first Thanksgiving at the Boston Children’s Museum.
Learning about nature is often the first step in appreciating nature. Visit the Dawn Publications website for inspiring nature books. There are many books on sale right now!