Lesson plan

Winter preparations by plants and animals

Discuss what animals and/or plants do in preparation for winter. Find seeds, buds, fall leaf colours in plants. Make a bird feeder.
Science content
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Food Webs, Ecosystems, Biomes (3, 4)
Earth/Space: Weather, Seasons, Climate Change (K, 1, 4, 7)

Discuss how, as the winter season approaches, animals and plants prepare for the winter, in the context of chosen activities.

Formats run for this lesson plan:

Plant dormancy for winter

Go outside. Look at plants for how they are adapting for the winter:
Plant growth slows.
Plants pump water and food into the roots for storage (frozen ground doesn't allow plants to take up water).
Deciduous plants change colour and then lose their leaves as water is saved and nutrients are moved to the roots.
(Evergreen trees have waxy leaves which are resistant to water loss and cold.)
Plants make buds to protect new flowers, leaves and shoots.
Plants make seeds, which are protected to survive the winter. Some seeds are inside berries.

Make paper seed helicopters

In the classroom, do leaf chromatography to find the yellow pigment, hidden in green leaves that shows in the Fall.
Optionally, while the chromatography is running do the Colour mixing and masking activity, to show how colours can be hidden in leaves.
Summarize that plants mask the yellow until the fall until the fall, when the green breaks down and the yellow gives our Fall colour leaves.

Hibernation, migration and adaption of local animals
Discus familiar local animals and how they prepare for the winter. Some migrate away, some store food for the winter, and some hibernate.

Common Lower Mainland animals that hibernate:
Mammals such as skunk, racoon, bear, bat (bats undergo true hibernation: drops 60-70% of body temp). Other non-mammalian animals enter a state of dormancy (but which is not technically hibernating) including snails, slugs, worms, wood bugs (wood bugs find warmer spots such as compost piles and near buildings, as they cannot stand temperatures lower than a few degrees below freezing, whereas many insects can often survive well below freezing.) Release wood bugs from their habitats, set up a month earlier, so that the can go and find spots to hibernate in.

Common Lower Mainland animals that migrate:
Snow geese migrate through here from Russia on their way to the Skagit River estuary; some Canada geese populations fly through Vancouver on their way to the US and Mexico. Vancouver is on the Pacific Flyway, a major bird migration route. See photos for geese V-formations over Vancouver.

Common Lower Mainland animals that adapt: squirrel, chipmunk and mouse stores food; birds, deer forage for what they can find. Also coyote, cougar...

A month before this lesson make wood bug habitats to keep in the classroom. During this lesson, discuss the need for the wood bugs to be released outside again before it get too cold - they need to find a place to hibernate.
While outside discuss what other animals are doing in preparation for winter - birds are migrating, other animals such as squirrels are adapting and storing food.

Play bird sounds for sparrow and chickadee, which are local birds that stay around in the winter.

Make a bird feeder for birds that stay on in winter, looking for food.

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3