Lesson Plan

Winter's Coming!

Red fox in winter
Red fox in winter

NPS Photo

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-Fifth Grade
Group Size:
Up to 24
National/State Standards:
MT.SCI.K-12.3.4 Students, through the inquiry process, demonstrate knowledge of characteristics, structures and function of living things, the process and diversity of life, and how living organisms interact with each other and their environment.
hibernation, migration, resist, winter


Students will play a running game that emphasizes the three main ways that animals adapt to the winter (hibernate, migrate, and resist).  They will also learn different terms related to winter in Glacier.


  • List 3 animal adaptations for surviving winter (hibernate, migrate, resistance)
  • List survival strategies animals may use in the winter (yarding, camouflage, etc.)
  • Explain the word "subnivean" and why it is important in the winter


In order to survive, animals can choose to migrate (go somewhere else), hibernate (sleep through the winter), or just resist (and put up with the winter). For those that resist, there are many strategies that they use to survive. Some animals use camouflage to blend in with the snow (for instance, snowshoe hares). Deer often yard, or gather in an area that they have stomped down. Smaller animals will sometimes huddle together to stay warm. For many animals, the subnivean (or under the snow) is necessary to survival. Animals like mice and voles will often make tunnels under the snow, using the insulation of snow to stay protected. This game emphasizes some of those strategies and the three ways that animals can survive the winter. Get more information on animal survival in winter!


Hibernate, Migrate, Resist Signs
Optional: large pictures of Glacier National Park animals



  • Students can correctly name the three adaptations for winter survival
  • Students can explain the importance of the subnivean, yarding, huddling, and any other terms that were used in the game.


Play the game as described above. Instead of saying the word hibernate, migrate, or resist; show a picture of a Glacier Park animal. Have students run to the base with the correct adaptation for how that animal survives winter.

  • It helps to have students think about what each animal eats. For example, most predators (mountain lions, wolves, lynx,etc.) resist because they can continue hunting and getting enough food to stay active and survive in the winter. Animals that hibernate (bears, ground squirrels, frogs, etc.) can't find enough vegetation, insects, or other food necessary to stay active through the winter so they slow down their metabolisms and go to sleep. See the chart on the following page.


Hibernate, Migrate, Resist, Subnivean, Huddling, Yarding, Camouflage, Predator

Last updated: February 24, 2015