I thought we would end our week on hibernation with a fun fiction story. Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows tells the story of many forest creatures getting on a hibernation train.
In the story, you learn about more animals that hibernate: bats, snakes, chipmunks, groundhogs, skunks and more. There is so much more to learn about animals that hibernate. I hope you pick your favorite hibernating animal and learn a bit more.
Let’s draw a picture of the hibernation station train. Where would you put all the animals? Would it be made of logs or something else? Get creative
Many animals who migrate or hibernate depend on insects for food… so what happens to insects in the winter? Well we know that butterflies migrate, so do dragonflies. What about everything else? Well the best answer to this is… it depends on the insect. Check out this information from the Smithsonian. You will see that some survive as larva, pupa, eggs and even some as adults hibernating. The key they have is by being able to create their own anti-freeze.
So what do bees do? They huddle together and move their wings to stay warm. So while they are not hibernating in the sense of lowering their body functions, they still are not doing anything but staying warm. They put all their energy in keeping the queen warm. It’s almost like the other bees are trying to be a blanket around the queen. A queen bee quilt?
So… today make your own queen bee quilt. Will you use squares, rectangles, triangles or even hexagons, just like the bee hive? Will you draw it or make it out of cut paper? Will you have one pattern or a collection of patterns? It is up to you… it is your quilt
When you think about animals that hibernate, I bet frogs do not come to mind. But, did you ever wonder what happens to frogs during the winter? Think about it. They live near water, they are cold blooded, the eat insects, but they can’t migrate somewhere warm… that’s a long distance to hop!
Let’s listen to a few fiction stories about frogs dealing with winter.
Do you think that frogs really just get dressed in warmer clothes and try to stay warm in the winter? Do they snuggle down in their beds under layers of blankets? Nope…
Frogs hibernate, but when frogs hibernate it is very different from bears and other mammals that hibernate. Frogs don’t have fur. They can’t regulate their body temperature. So… frogs actually freeze. Yes, you read that right. Frogs ice over, but stay alive!
When people talk about hibernation typically the first animal to come to mind is the bear. Bears actually do not truly hibernate, but do slow down their heart and lungs. When animals truly hibernate, they cannot be woken up, but bears brains stay alert enough to be aware of their surroundings. Bears go into a state called torpor.
Most animals hibernate because of a lack of food. They are unable to store enough food to have enough food to eat through the winter. Most hibernating animals are warm blooded (bears, groundhogs, chipmunks and other), but there are also some cold blooded animals who hibernate (frogs, snails and snakes)
Hibernation allows an animals body to slow down, this is not sleep. The animals whole body slows down, including their lungs, heart and other essential organs. They use the energy they stored to use keep their organs functioning at a slower rate than normal. Some hibernating animals sleep through the winter, others wake from time to time to “use the bathroom” and eat some food they have stored.
Ask your child… Would you want to hibernate for the winter? Now draw and write about your answer. I really do like winter, it’s cold, but it is pretty!