Lesson Plan

Bears Through the Seasons


Seasons are reinforced through a comparison of how humans and bears adapt to seasonal change.

Available in Spring Only.


bear pelt, bear skull, baby bear bean bag, seasonal pictures (both humans and bears), front/back paw/human footprint images, seasonal people props (winter hat, rain coat, sunglasses, scarf)


Organize photos and props in the order you want to show them. Place bear paws on the ground. 

Introduce NPS programs and employees. Give background information on BLCA/CURE.

Ask the students what animals they might see in the national parks. Lead into telling them that they are going to learn about one of those animals and some of the things that make it so special. See if the students can figure out what animal you will be discussing by giving them clues (e.g. lives in the forest, eats berries, large, etc.).


Begin by telling the students that people and animals act differently during the seasons. Ask the students how many seasons are there?  See if any volunteers can name them. Explain to the students that in the winter, people put on warm clothes and boots and play in the snow. In the summer, people can play without wearing warm coats and boots. Ask for four volunteers to come up front, and dress them with the appropriate prop (fall-scarf, winter-hat, spring-poncho, summer-sunglasses). Once the volunteers are in front, read Ellen Petrick's poem with actions while the students echo each line (my turn, your turn).

In the fall, I rake the leaves.

Then comes winter, skates and skis.

In the spring, I smell the flowers.

Then comes summer, play for hours!

Have the volunteers stay up front with their props. Ask the students if anyone remembers what animal you are going to talk about today? Bears. Ask if they think that bears change throughout the seasons? Show pictures of bears during each season, and discuss each picture. Have four different volunteers come to the front and hold one of the bear pictures next to the appropriate "human" season. Read poem with actions and have students echo.

In the fall bears eat and eat.

Then comes winter, time to sleep.

In the spring cubs start to play.

Then comes summer, fun every day!

Bear Prints
Lead into how humans are similar to bears in other ways as well. Have the students hold up their own hands and look at them, count your fingers on one hand together. Then, show them a bear's front paw. Count the bear's toes, show the difference in nails and pads. Have the students wiggle their feet around, then show human footprint, count toes. Then, show bear back paw and count his toes. Talk about how a bear walks (have students on all fours, look around-can't see very far, then have them stand up and take a sniff in the air like a bear does to see farther). Move into the "walk like a bear" activity where students try and follow a bear's steps along the ground. (There are bear prints with Velcro you can lay down ahead of time.) Model how the bear walks along the footprints, then have each student take a turn. After each student has finished, have them sit and watch the "wildlife". Once all students have had a turn, have them sit back down in a semi-circle.

Bear Characteristics
Show the bear skull and ask students if they have a skull. Have them tap their heads to see that they do have a skull. Discuss the teeth and what bears eat. Walk around with the skull to give each student a chance to feel the skull and teeth. Now, prep the students before bringing out the bear hide. Explain that the hide came from a bear that was too comfortable around humans because people left their food where the bear could find it. When bears are around people too much, it's not good for the bear or for people. Tell the students that the bear had to be shot. If people knew what you know now, then they would remember to be "bear aware," and put their food away where bears cannot get at it so that bears could keep on living.  Ask them how bears stay warm when it's cold out. Bears have fur and they sleep through the winter. Take out the pelt and have them help you spread out the bear and talk about the different parts. Ask them if they can point to the black parts, and then the brown parts, are there even parts that might be reddish brown? Wrap the hide into a ball like the bear was sleeping, talk about hibernation and leave the hide in that position. Clap the bear's different heart beats, regular in summer, slow in winter. Pull out the baby bear; let them pass it around to each other to feel how little bears are when they are born.

Check for general student understanding throughout the lesson by asking questions. Ask the students why is it important for people to take care of bears?  Ask, how can we protect bears and ourselves?

Repeat the season poems with the students. Invite the students to bring their families to the parks one day to see the habitat where black bears live. 

Indicate what you judge to have been the strengths of the lesson, what changes you made during the lesson, and what changes you would make if you were to teach the unit again.

Park Connections

Black Canyon of the Gunnison contains examples of ecosystems characteristic of native Colorado as well as a human-made reservoir system; these habitats provide outstanding opportunities to experience and appreciate a diversity of life.


Season – One of the four periods of the year (spring, summer, fall, winter) marked by particular weather patterns and daylight hours.

Compare – Estimate, measure, or note the similarities and dissimilarities between two subjects.

Hibernate – To spend the winter in a dormant or inactive state.