Animals in areas that experience cold climates have several adaptations for survival. Many animals hibernate to survive the winter. Other animals will store food near their habitat to access during the cold winter months. In this activity, students will have the opportunity to build a human-sized winter habitat. This can be done as one large group, or can be completed in smaller groups and the shelters can then be compared. Students will need to consider important qualities for constructing a habitat, such as warmth, protection from weather, access to food and water, safety from predators, etc. After the students have designed their winter survival shelters, they will then have the opportunity to construct them using natural materials from nature. These materials could include sticks, snow, leaves, stumps, and fallen branches. It is important to not damage any living things in the making of these shelters.
Once the dwellings are built have students describe the features of their construction that make for good winter survival. Again, students should consider warmth, protection from weather, access to food and water, safety from predators, etc. Compare the students’ winter habitat designs to those of other animals – where does a bear hibernate? what does a fox den look like in winter? what does a squirrel drey look like? what animals used logs, sticks, branches, dens in snow/ground, leaves, etc.? Make connections between the students’ designs and the designs animals use to survive winter.
For more resources on how animals survive winter, check out the books on this month’s Nature Book List, which is all about animals in wintertime.