Phil It Be a Great Day?-Groundhogs and Hibernation

11 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


Students will be able to identify animals that hibernate by completing a sort.

Big Idea

Groundhog's Day is a great time to talk about animals that hibernate. This lesson introduces your students to Punxsutawney Phil as well as other hibernating animals.


10 minutes

To begin this lesson, I read a story about Groundhog's Day to my students.  I have several that I like to read, but a favorite of mine is Groundhog Gets a Say.  It give a great deal of factual information about the Groundhog.  If you don't have access to this book, there are many more that can be read.  It would just be important that the book make some reference to the groundhog sleeping so there can be a discussion to hibernation.  When I am done reading the book, I ask the students some questions:

What does the groundhog do during the winter?

What is it called when an animal sleeps for a long period of time during the winter?

We know a lot about the hibernation of a bear.  Today we are going to learn about some other animals and their hibernation.

We then moved over to the Smartboard for the next part of the lesson.

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use my SmartBoard.  If you have a SmartBoard, the file Different Types of Hibernation can easily be downloaded and opened.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  Click here to download. There is also a PDF of the slides so you can recreate this part of the lesson.  Click here to access them:  Different Types of Hibernation PDF of Smartboard Slides.

I gather my students in front of the Smartboard.  I have cards with each student's name printed on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the Smartboard.  This helps me spread response opportunities across my entire classroom and eliminates any unintentional bias.

I open the first slide (SmartBoard Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques (Click here to learn more about SIOP). I read these objectives aloud for my students and then we continue with the lesson. 

Content Objective
I can identify animals that hibernate and the different type of hibernation.

Language Objective
I can tell a friend some animals that hibernate and which type of hibernation they experience. 

Slide 2:  Cold weather can be a challenge.  Animals can't go to a store and buy a winter coat, hats and mittens, but some animals have found an amazing way to adapt to the cold.  They just sleep right through it! 

Slide 3:  There are two different types of hibernation. 

Light Hibernation (also known as torpor):
Animals wake often during sleep to eat and/or have young and care for them.

True Hibernation:
Animals go into a deep sleep and wake only a few times (if at all).

Slide 4:  What are some animals that experience light hibernation? Bears experience light hibernation.  They do not sleep all winter.  They will wake to have their babies and care for them.  Bears will wake easily from their torpor, so be cautious around hibernating bears.

Slide 5:  What are some animals that experience light hibernation?  Skunks go into light hibernation.  They will wake up during their torpor and scavenge for something to eat and then return to sleeping. 

Slide 6:  What are some animals that experience light hibernation?  Raccoons build up fat in their tails.  They live off this fat during torpor  It also helps to keep them warm.  They curl the tail around their bodies.

Slide 7:  What are some animals that experience true hibernation?  The wood frog goes into such a deep sleep that it stops breathing, its heart stops and ice crystals form in its blood.  When the temperature warms, the ice crystals melt and the frog starts breathing again.

Slide 8:  What are some animals that experience true hibernation? The common poorwill is the only species of birds that go into true hibernation.  They can even incubate their eggs when hibernating!

Slide 9: What are some animals that experience true hibernation? Bats sleep so soundly when hibernating, often people think they are dead.  They may go without breathing for up to an hour.  Their heart rate slows from  400 to 25 beats per minute.  

Slide 10:  What are some animals that experience true hibernation?  Groundhogs experience true hibernation.  They do not wake all winter.  They live off fat that is stored in their body.  They often build a separate burrow for their hibernation.  

Slide 11:  Do garter snakes hibernate?  Garter snakes do not "go to sleep".  They stay alert, but their bodies become very sluggish.  This is called brumation.

Slide 12:  It is now Turn and Talk Time.  During Turn and Talk, my students get a chance to reinforce their understanding of concept vocabulary.  They also get a chance to practice their conversational skills.  I ask them to hold hands with their assigned Turn and Talk partners and raise their hands in the air.  This allows me to check that everyone has a partner.    I then say to them, Name one animal that experiences true hibernation.  I give them time to discuss and I then call on several students to share their responses.

I then ask this question:  Name one animal that experiences torpor or light hibernation. Again the students discuss and when they are done, I call on several students to share their responses.

We move back to our seats for the next part of the lesson.


Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

10 minutes

Materials Needed:

For this lesson, you will need the hibernation sort activity sheet included as a PDF with this lesson.  The students will also need scissors and glue.

I distribute the activity sheet to the students and have them write their name at the top of the paper.  I say to the students, Now that we have learned about the different types of hibernation, it is time for you to show me what you have learned.  This sheet has pictures of different animals.  Some of the animals go through light hibernation, some through true hibernation and some do not hibernate at all.  You are going to sort the animals.  You will place the animals that experience true hibernation in this space (I point to the correct space on the sheet), the animals that experience light hibernation in this space and the animals that do not hibernate at all in this space.  When you have the animals sorted, raise your hand and I will check your work before you glue them down. 

The students begin working and I circulate around the room to observe their progress and assist them as needed (see Video).  Some of the students need help identifying the animals, but overall they do a great job sorting them into the categories. 


5 minutes

To wrap up the lesson, I did a quick little activity with the students called "Three Corners".  In Three Corners, I pick three corners of the classroom and label them.  One is labeled "true hibernation", one is labeled "light hibernation" and the other is labeled "does night hibernate". 

I explain to the students, I have labeled three corners of our classroom.  (I point the corners out) This is the "true hibernation corner", this is the "light hibernation corner" and this corner is the "does not hibernate" corner.  I am going to say the name of an animals.  If that animal is a true hibernator, you move to that corner, if it is a light hibernator you move to this corner and if it does not hibernate, you move to that corner. 

I invite the students out of their seats and start naming different animals.  I say, "polar bear" and the students move to the appropriate corner (hopefully!). We go through numerous animals to review the different animals that hibernate and the type of hibernation they experience.