Lesson Plan

Which Bear?

grizzly bear outline by Helen Seay
Grade Level:
Lower Elementary: Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Math,Science
Lesson Duration:
90 Minutes
Additional Standards:
NGSS K-ESS3-1. Use a model to represent the relationship between the needs of different plants and animals (including humans) and the places they live.

Essential Question

What is the difference between black, grizzly, and polar bears?


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


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. This lesson can be done in one 90 - 120 minute period, or split into 3 - 4 sessions that are 30 minutes each. 

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.)

Additional Resources

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

Contact Information

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Last updated: December 29, 2020