Teachable Moments: Adaptations, Migration & Hibernation

As the weather turns cold and winter approaches, we add layers of clothes and turn up the heat. What do animals do to prepare for the cold?

Some animals prepare for cold weather by gathering food and storing it for the upcoming winter when it will be harder to find. Can you think of any animals that do this?
Other animals are able to find food through the winter and grow thicker layers of fur. Can you think of any animals that do this?

Some animals go into a deep sleep over the winter. They usually will eat lots of food in the fall then go to sleep in a den or a deep burrow. A true hibernating animal’s breathing slows way down and its body temperature drops.
Some animals sleep heavily for long periods but will wake up every occasionally to eat.

Seeing birds flying south in the fall is common. They are not only flying to warmer climates for warmth but to be able to find food that is more readily available. They usually follow the same routes every year. Some animals learn the routes by following other animals (mother?) but other animals seem to know where to go by instinct. Scientists aren’t sure how the animals know how, when, or where to go.
Birds are not the only animals that migrate to warmer weather during their winters. Can you think of any other animals that go south for the winter? Do you know any people who go south for the winter? Where do they go?
Not all migrations have to do with warmer weather. Some animals migrate as part of their life cycle. Life cycle migrations may take place every year and similar animals may gather in special spots to find mates or to have babies.
Other animals might migrate only when giving birth or to lay eggs in a specific location (where they were hatched).

Websites of interest:
ParkWise (Alaska National Parks’ e-classroom): Migration: http://www.nps.gov/akso/parkwise/Students/ReferenceLibrary/general/MigrationBasics.htm
Tracking animals. Sometimes scientists put satellite collars on animals so they can track their movements. This helps us to understand how, where, and when animals move around the earth. Here are some sites where you can follow various animals:
WhaleNet: (tracks seals & whales) http://whale.wheelock.edu/whalenet-stuff/stop_cover.html
SeaTurtle.org: (tracks sea turtles) http://www.seaturtle.org/tagging/
Journey North: (tracks whooping cranes, hummingbirds, monarchs and other animals) http://www.learner.org/jnorth/
Alaska Seal Life Center: (tracks seals) http://www.alaskasealife.org/New/rehabilitation/index.php?page=rehab-tracking.php
Wild Tracks: (manatees) http://www.wildtracks.org/Florida/home.html

Ideas for experiential learning:
Keep a wildlife journal for one week. Identify what animals you see and what they are doing. Do you think they are getting ready for winter? Do you see any signs of animals even though you might not see the animals themselves?
• Bird feathers
• Chewed pinecones
• Chewed acorns or nuts
• Scat (droppings)
• Animal tracks
• Bones
What are some ways that humans prepare for cold weather? How do the clothes we wear change with the seasons? Why?
Do we eat any foods now that we might not eat during the hot summer? What foods and why?
In the book, Whistling Wings, the young tundra swan flies about 1,000 miles without stopping to rest or eat.
• Look at a map and figure out how far 1,000 miles is from where you live. Could you walk there without stopping to sleep or eat?
• If the swan flew for ten days, about how many miles a day did he fly?
• If you and your family travelled 1,000 by car, and averaged 60 miles an hour, how many hours would it take you to drive the 1,000 miles? Have you ever driven that far? Did you stop to rest, eat, or go to the bathroom?

Here is a one-week code to access Sylvan Dell’s related titles as auto-flip, auto-read, 3D-page-curling, and selectable English and Spanish text and audio eBooks:
Temporary eBook Viewing Code: FE0Q4Y
Code expiration date: 12/06/2009
Please click on the following link: http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/ebooktrials.php?e=FE0Q4Y
Read the following books and see if you can find the answers to the questions in either the story or the For Creative Minds’ section. Can you figure out if the animals use adaptation, hibernation, migration, or more than one? If they migrate, do they migrate every year seasonally or as part of their life cycle?
Loon Chase Where do loons spend their summers and why? Where do they spend their winters?
Moose and Magpie Where do moose go in the fall and why?
Ocean Seasons What do humpback whales do during the winter and why? What do salmon do during the fall and why?
One Wolf Howls What do wolves do during the cold weather?
Turtle Summer: A Journal for my Daughter when & why do female sea turtles come ashore?
Turtles in my Sandbox What do diamondback terrapins in the wild do in the winter?
Whistling Wings How does each of the animals survive the winter?

You can access the For Creative Minds section for all the books here (in English and Spanish): http://sylvandellpublishing.com/ForCreativeMinds.htm and the free, 20-40 pages of teaching activities here: http://sylvandellpublishing.com/TeachingActivitiesPage.htm

diamondback terrapin
humpback whales
sea turtles (loggerheads)
tundra swan


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