Burr! It is chilly in Florida today. Normally, we do not have animals hibernating in southern florida. However, some of our animals are slowing down too. They are being rescued and warmed up with blankets because the animals are in "cold shock." Our raccoons do not hibernate in Florida, but they hibernate in colder states. These states have snow and a longer winter. There are a number of animals that hibernate in the winter. Some of them are: chipmunks, bats, bears, ground squirrels and toads.
Do you know what hibernation means? It means some animals go to sleep during the cold winter months. Most of these animals eat large amounts of food during the fall.This food is stored in the animal's bodies as fat, which provides energy during hibernation. Hibernation can be a hard for young children to understand. I recommend that you try this science activity with your child.This experiment should help your child understand hibernation. Have your child cover his/her hand with a plastic bag. Put a piece of ice on top of the plastic and have the child hold the ice for awhile. Let your child know that the plastic bag is like an animal's skin. Ask your child some questions. Does your hand feel cold? Do you think skin alone can keep animals warm? If not, what do you think helps animals stay warm. To help your child find the answers, take another plastic bag. Put vegetable fat in this bag. Make sure the shortening stays mostley on one side of the bag. Slip the first bag inside the second bag. Have your child slip his/her hand inside of the inner bag. Make sure the shortening side of the bag is on the palm of your child's hand. Then give your child a piece of ice to hold in his/her palm. Is the ice cold? No, the child's hand will stay warm. Talk about how animals eat a great deal of food in the fall. This gives the animal a chance to build up fat that will help keep the animal warm.
You can also go to the library and explore the topic of hibernation with your child. These two nonfiction books have wonderful information: Hibernation by Anita Ganeri, and Animals hibernating: how animals survive extreme conditions by Pamela Hickman. I also like the following picture books: Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming, Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, Chaucer's First Winter by Stephen Kresky, Bedtime for Bear by Brett Helquist, Old Bear by Kevin Henkes, and Every Autum Comes the Bear by Jim Arnosky.
After reading books you can sing this song with your child: Hibernation (Sung to the tune of "Where is Thumbkin")
Where is bear? Where is bear?
Here I am. Here I am.
How are you this winter?
Very tired, thank you.
Go to sleep. Go to sleep. (Substitute other hibernating animals in this song.)