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Winter's Coming. Don't You Know?

Changes in Animals

Elementary

Description

This resource teaches students about the seasonal adaptations of local wildlife through a diverse set of activities that incorporate games, displays and habitat investigations.  Students examine the changes in appearance and behaviour that occur in animals as they prepare for winter.  They also learn that many Canadian animals need special wintering habitats to survive the cold weather.  The lessons focus on four species to illustrate a variety of adaptations.  The squirrel and snowshoe hare are used as examples of animals that remain relatively active during the winter, whereas the black bear and western chorus frog are used as examples of animals that hibernate.  After participating in the resource activities students will be able to describe an adaptation as a physical characteristic or change in behaviour that helps an animal survive.  They will also create an imaginary habitat and animal to demonstrate new learning about seasonal adaptations.  The five lessons "Scurry Squirrel",  "Looking for Squirrel Homes", "Vernal Pools", "Fat Black Bears" and "Wardrobe Change" will keep students engaged through the following learning activities:

  • Simulation of squirrel food storage behaviours.
  • Examination of a forested area for squirrel nests and feeding middens.
  • Investigation of a vernal pool to learn about amphibian hibernation.
  • Exploration of the insulating properties of fat.
  • Exploration of animal colour changes.

General Assessment

Strengths

  • Experiential and takes students outside.
  • Highly engaging and enjoyable activities.
  • Very relevant and uses animals that students would be familiar with.
  • Well organized and easy to use.

Weaknesses

  • Not a lot of background information is provided for the teacher.
  • The resource requires pictures for several of the activities but they are not included.
  • There are no action project ideas that focus on habitat.
  • There are no suggestions for differentiated instruction.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource offers an opportunity to take students outside to explore and interact with nature and learn about natural features of their community.  Students could be taught how to enjoy nature safely and with minimal impacts on the environment.  While exploring and participating in the activities children could also clean up garbage they find in the forest thus fostering a sense of respect and caring for their natural world.  Young children could also be encouraged to use their senses while they explore and imagine the senses that the animals they are learning about have to use to survive in their environment.

"Winter's Coming" would also make a valuable addition to a unit on seasons.  After they have participated in the activities children could describe with writing or pictures what they learned about how living things respond to seasonal cycles.  They could draw a picture of an animal in hibernation and record the habitat needs of that particular animal.  Students could also compare and contrast how humans prepare for the seasons with seasonal animals.  The "Scurry Squirrel" activity could incorporate some math by having students chart the number of popsicle sticks they found in various hiding locations and make a conclusion about the best locations for squirrels to hide their food.

What important ideas are implied by the resource, but not taught explicitly?

Although students learn that habitat is important to wintering wildlife the resource does not directly address the impacts of habitat loss.  Thus, the connectivity between habitat conservation and wildlife survival is an idea that students must develop on their own.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
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    • Kindergarten
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • The child explores familiar places and things in the environment and community
    • Grade 1
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Needs of Animals and Plants
        • Seasonal Changes
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Small Crawling and Flying Animals
  • British Columbia
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    • Kindergarten
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Science: Characteristics of Living Things
    • Grade 1
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Sciences: Needs of Living Things
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Science: Animal Growth & Changes
  • Manitoba
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    • Grade 1
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Characteristics and Needs of Living Things
        • Daily and Seasonal Changes
    • Grade 2
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Growth and Changes in Animals
  • New Brunswick
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    • Kindergarten
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      • Science
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        • You and Your World: Place and Community
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      • Science
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        • You and Your World: Our Environment
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      • Science
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        • You and Your World: Growth and Development
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Kindergarten
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Exploring My World: Animals
    • Grade 1
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Daily & Seasonal Changes
        • Needs and Characteristics of Living Things
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Animal Growth and Changes
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Kindergarten
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Energy & Controls: Keeping Warm
    • Grade 1
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    • Grade 2
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Science: Growth and Changes in Animals
  • Nova Scotia
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    • Kindergarten
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Exploring the World With Our Senses
    • Grade 1
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Daily & Seasonal Change
        • Needs & Characteristics of Living Things
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Animal Growth and Changes
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Kindergarten
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Energy & Controls: Keeping Warm
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Science: Growth and Changes in Animals
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Kindergarten
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Exploring the World Using Our Senses
    • Grade 1
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Daily and Seasonal Changes
        • Needs and Characteristics of Living Things
    • Grade 2
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Animal Growth and Changes:Investigating the Needs and Life Cycles of an Organism
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
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      • Science
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        • Units & Outcomes
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      • Science
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        • Daily and Seasonal Changes
        • Needs & Characteristics of Living Things
    • Grade 2
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Animal Growth and Changes
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Kindergarten
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Science: Characteristics of LIving Things
    • Grade 1
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Earth & Space Science: Daily & Seasonal Changes
        • Life Sciences: Needs of Living Things
    • Grade 2
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      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Science: Animal Growth & Changes

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
  • Land Use & Natural Resources (1)

    • Forests

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Bias Minimization Good

The resource teaches students that although animal adaptations are important to their winter survival, habitat conservation is equally important to wintering wildlife.  Thus students will develop a more complete picture of the needs of animals in winter.

Bias Minimization: Presents as many different points of view as necessary to fairly address the issue(s).
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

Through the active exploration component of the lessons students learn more about their own perspectives and understanding of how animals grow and change within their environment.  They also gain a greater understanding of the environmental impacts of habitat loss.  The economic impacts of seasonal adaptations are not considered in this resource but this aspect could be easily incorporated through the inclusion of some traditional stories about the harvest of animals.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

The resource effectively addresses multiple dimensions of problems and solutions. These should include the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

Respects Complexity Good

Through the use of hands-on activities students are able to discover the many ways that animals adapt to changes in their environment.

Respects Complexity: The complexity of problems is respected. A systems-thinking approach is encouraged.
Action Experience Poor/Not considered

Students learn about the importance of habitat conservation for wintering wildlife and may consider ways in which they can help protect habitat, but there are no direct action projects included with the resource.

Action Experience: Provides opportunities for authentic action experiences in which students can work to make positive change in their communities.
  • Poor = action activities poorly developed
  • Satisfactory = action opportunities are extensions instead of being integral to the main part of the activity
Action Skills Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource.

Action Skills: Explicitly teaches the skills needed for students to take effective action (e.g. letter-writing, consensus-building, etc.).
Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Very Good

The outdoor experience of this resource fosters a deeper appreciation for forested habitats and wildlife.  Students are actively engaged with the animals they are learning about  and will likely develop a deeper sensitivity and respect for these creatures.

Personal Affinity with Earth: Actively encourages a personal affinity with non-humans and with Earth. For example, this may involve practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors.
Locally-Focused Very Good

The type of habitat and the animals selected for this resource are very relevant throughout Canada and students will be familiar with these species.  The western chorus frog is the only regional species used in the lesson, but another amphibian species can be easily substituted for the western chorus frog in the activities.

Locally-Focused: Encourages learning that is locally-focused/made concrete in some way and is relevant to the lives of the learners.
Past, Present & Future Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good

The key learning strategy in this resource is a field trip. Through this inquiry there are abundant opportunities for students to discover answers and construct their own meanings from new information.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning Satisfactory

This resource is a science-based lesson.  A teacher can easily incorporate some language arts outcomes in the concluding lesson in which students create an imaginary habitat and animal.  Students could write about their creations describing how their animal is adapted to its habitat.

Interdisciplinary and Multidisciplinary Learning: Multidisciplinary= addresses a number of different subjects Interdisciplinary= integrated approach that blurs subject lines Good: The resource provides opportunities for learning in a number of traditional 'subject' areas (eg. Language Arts, Science, Math, Art, etc.). Very Good: The resource takes an integrated approach to teaching that blurs the lines between subject boundaries.
Discovery Learning Good

Most of the lessons in this resource occur outside and are structured so that students can find answers on their own without relying on each other or the teacher.

Discovery Learning:

Learning activities are constructed so that students discover and build knowledge for themselves and develop largely on their own an understanding of concepts, principles and relationships. They often do this by wrestling with questions, and/or solving problems by exploring their environment, and/or physically manipulating objects and/or performing experiments.

  • Satisfactory = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use & some direction on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides some opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event
  • Good = Students are provided with intriguing questions, materials to use, & make their own decisions on how to find answers. The learning involves unique experience & provides definite opportunity for an 'ah-hah' event.
  • Very Good = Students choose what questions to investigate as well as the materials/strategies to use to answer them.
Values Clarification Poor/Not considered

This resource will provide students with a deeper appreciation for nature and encourages respect for animals, but there are no formal opportunities for values clarification in the lessons.

Values Clarification: Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.
  • Poor = Students are not explicitly given an opportunity to clarify their own values.
  • Satisfactory = Students are given a formal opportunity to clarify their own values. The range of perspectives in the resource is limited, therefore, students do not have an appropriate amount of information to clarify their own values.
Differentiated Instruction Good

There are no specific suggestions for accommodations in this resource, however the experiential nature of most of the activities will meet the needs of students with a wide range of learning styles.

Differentiated Instruction: Activities address a range of learning styles/different intelligences. They teach to both cognitive and affective domains. Accommodations are suggested for people with learning difficulties.
Experiential Learning Very Good

This resource provides many opportunities for students to become actively engaged in their learning through authentic experiences such as burying themselves in leaf litter to simulate hibernating frogs.

Experiential Learning: Direct, authentic experiences are used.
  • Satisfactory = simulation
  • Good = authentic experience
  • Very Good = authentic experience related to the primary goal of the lesson
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

The activities generally take place as a whole class but there are places where teachers can have students working in pairs or small groups.

Cooperative Learning: Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.
  • Satisfactory = students work in groups
  • Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good = cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Satisfactory

The concluding activity has students create an imaginary habitat with an animal that is adapted to the seasons.  This exercise could be used as a summative assessment of new learning especially if a writing component was also incorporated.  There are open-ended questions associated with each activity that can provide some formative assessment to the teacher in the form of whole class discussions.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource.

Peer Teaching: Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.
  • Satisfactory = incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good = an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource.

Case Studies: Relevant case studies are used. Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events in real situations that can be used to examine concepts in an authentic context.
Locus of Control Poor/Not considered

Not considered in this resource.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.