Lesson Plan

Preparing for Winter

an arch in the distance is framed by another arch in the foreground

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Grade Level:
Lower Elementary: Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade
Lesson Duration:
30 Minutes
State Standards:
Utah Integrated Core Curriculum Topic, Standard Three: Students will develop an understanding of their environment. Objective One: Investigate relationships between plants & animals and how living things change during their lives.
Thinking Skills:
Remembering: Recalling or recognizing information ideas, and principles. Understanding: Understand the main idea of material heard, viewed, or read. Interpret or summarize the ideas in own words.

Essential Question

How do animals prepare for winter?


Preparing for Winter
a. Describe three things animals do to survive the winter.
b. Name what one specific animal does to survive the winter


This in-class presentation uses story and visualization to explore how different types of animals survive the winter.


Gather the following materials:
“How Turtle Flew South for the Winter” (Caduto, M. & Bruchac, J., 1988, 157-158); what animals do in winter poster (poster depicting a variety of animals grouped in the way they spend the winter, i/e hibernators, migrators, those that remain active, those whose eggs remain dormant, and those that store food) “Winter is Coming” (Caduto, M. & Bruchac, J., 1988, 160), paper, crayons.


1) Ask students if they have noticed that winter is coming. If so, ask them how they knew. Tell students that animals, like humans, notice the change of the seasons and do many different things to survive the winter. Ask students if they know what a legend is? If not, explain that a legend is a story some people think might be true and others think is just a story. Tell the students that you have a legend that was told by the Dakota (Sioux) Indians who live on the Great Plains. Read “How Turtle Flew South for the Winter.”

2) Tell students that even though the story was probably not entirely true there were some elements of truth. For instance, birds fly south for the winter and turtles dig holes and sleep in the mud all winter. Show students the poster of animals. Discuss what each group of animals does to survive the winter: becoming dormant, hibernating, migrating, storing food, remaining active, laying eggs. Point out and name the different animals in each group.

3) Tell the students they need to pick one of the animals from the poster to pretend to be. Have the students close their eyes and, without moving, think about what it would be like to be that animal. Read them the visualization “Winter is Coming.” Remind students that they need to picture these things happening as if they are their animal. After reading, give students a moment or two to think of how they would survive.

4) Pass out drawing paper. Have students draw their animal and how it survives the winter. Give examples, such as “if you were a snake you could draw yourself asleep in your den” or “if you are a bird you could show yourself flying south for winter.” Have students then write who they are and what they do to survive the winter. If there is time, have each student share her picture with the class.

Enrichment Activities

Have the students write a story about how their Gopher snake animal survived the winter.

Additional Resources

Brady, I. (1998). The redrock canyon explorer. Talent, OR: Nature Works.

Caduto, M. & Bruchac, J. (1988). Keepers of the earth: Native American stories and environmental activities for children. Golden, CO: Fulcrum.

Tweit, S. J. (1992). The great southwest nature factbook. Bothell, WA: Alaska Northwest Books.

Williams, D. (2000). A naturalist’s guide to canyon country. Helena, MT: Falcon Publishing.

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Last updated: November 29, 2018