Why Do Bears Sleep All Winter?

I was looking through my idea notebook for my blog and realized I had several posts I had been meaning to write at the first part of this year and haven’t yet.  So, I figured I would start blogging about them before I turned around and realized that I’ve been holding on to these pictures for years and haven’t written about them.  Funny how that happens 🙂  At any rate, I’ll be slowly bringing some of these posts out for you guys.

Why do bears sleep

We were studying hibernation in January.  In so doing, I wanted to find a couple of science experiments that weren’t too pre-schoolish for the older two children, and I stumbled across this experiment on A Teacher to the Core.  You should really go to her site and download her labels and notebooking page freebie to go along with this experiment.  That’s what I did.  She even has a hibernation unit study for sale in her Teacher Pay Teachers store (TPT is one of my favorite resources for unit studies and other resources that won’t break the bank!)

Anyway, we all know that many animals hibernate in the winter.  They eat a bunch or store a bunch of food and hide underground, find a den, etc. to rest in until spring comes again.  This is obviously because food is much more scarce in the winter than during the plentiful summer months.

However, that begs the question of why does the bear hibernate in the winter?  What would happen if a bear didn’t hibernate?  The experiment we performed tries to help us find the answers to that question out.

We got out two small glass mason jars and filled them with water.   Then I sliced off a couple of pats of butter and put one pat in each jar.


We sealed the jars and labeled one “hibernating” and one “awake.”  Then, I let the children carry the awake one around while pretending to be bears.  They ran and played.  The growled and chased each other.  Sometimes, they just stood and shook the jar.  Then, we put the two jars side by side and compared them.  As you can see from the picture below, there’s quite a difference in the “fat stores” between the two bear jars.

butter dispersal

We followed up this activity by writing a notebook page about the experience, and by reading What Do Animals Do in Winter?: How Animals Survive the Cold (Discovery Readers).


This experiment and book would get us ready to create our own hibernation books with pictures of where different animals hibernate.



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