K-3, Unit Four, Activity 2: "Which Bear?"

grizzly outline
grizzly outline

Helen Seay

Students compare black, grizzly, and polar bear shapes, sizes, tracks and food.

Grades: K-2
Time: 3 or 4 sessions of 1/2 hour
Subjects: Life science, language arts, visual arts, mathematics

Teacher Background:
This is an individual study activity in which students measure teacher-made tracks or create their own, bear tracks to scale. They also compare bear foods and habitats. A great resource for local teachers is the Glacier National Park bear traveling trunk.


  • Pictures of the 3 bears (color, from magazines) and internet
  • Pictures of Life-size black bear track, grizzly bear track, and polar bear track (teacher makes in advance)
  • Bear puzzle (teacher makes in advance from magazine or other pictures)
  • Reading materials (some suggestions include: Alaska's Three bears by Shelley Gill, Grow! by Melvin Berger, Black Bear Cub by Alan Lind, ZooBooks on Bears, and "The Teddy Bears" video from Marshmallow Entertainment Corp., Los Angeles)


  1. Read one or more of the above resources, or have the students read them, depending on their reading level.
  2. Prepare life-size patterns for each bear by copying the images and enlarging them to the sizes indicated. More advanced students may be able to use the pattern images to make the life-size tracks themselves.
  3. Distribute the teacher-made track handouts and discuss the bear comparisons. Have students measure the tracks (length, width, claw length).
  4. Have students make a "bear booklet" with three sections, one on each of the bears. They should include for each bear: a drawing or tracing of the bear's shape, its tracks, preferred foods, and its habitat.
  5. Prepare in advance large photos of a grizzly, a black, and a polar bear. Glue each photo to stiff paper. Cut each picture into puzzle pieces of an appropriate size and challenge for your students' abilities and see if students can recognize which bear it is once they have put each puzzle together.
  6. For a real challenge, have them visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website or the Be Bear Aware website and see if they can pass the bear identification tests. (An adult will have to help them read through the pages.)

Variations and Extensions:

For challenging "free-time" experience: grades 2-3, try the "Scramble Squares" bear puzzle from b. dazzle, inc., 310.374.3000 or try the Great Bear Foundation, Missoula, MT.

Last updated: November 7, 2017

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