Bears and Hibernation

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Listen to learn about how different animals adapt to the changing seasons and find out what happens
when bears hibernate.

Subject: Science
Grade level: Elementary
A variety of adaptations help animals survive the winter, when temperatures drop and food is scarce. Some migrate, some change how they eat and find ways to stay warm, and some hibernate, essentially going to sleep for many months. Listen to learn about how different animals adapt to the changing seasons and find out what happens when bears hibernate.

Bears and Hibernation

Before Listening

  1. Activate prior knowledge:
    Begin the lesson by asking students what they know about hibernation. Note what they say for all to see. Explain that different animals adapt differently to winter, when the weather gets colder and food can be hard to find. Tell students that they will be learning more about hibernation and other ways that animals survive the winter.
  2. Vocabulary:
    Preview the vocabulary by reading aloud the terms and their definitions. Ask students to think about how they adapt to changing seasons or different environments.

hibernation (noun) – staying asleep for a long time, usually in the winter
dormant (adjective) – asleep; inactive
security (noun) – safety from danger
promote (verb) – encourage; support; nurture
wary (adjective) – cautious

  1. Introduce the story:
    Tell students that they will be listening to a story that explains how different animals survive the winter and why they are not likely to run into a hibernating bear.
  2. Active listening supports:
    Introduce the listening organizer to support students in understanding the story while listening to it. This is intended to guide students in taking notes to help them focus their listening.

During Listening

The Facts and Questions T-chart will guide students while listening as they take notes on facts and questions about how animals survive the winter.

After Listening

  1. Reflect on the story:  

Ask students to respond to the listening comprehension questions and share their responses with a partner, small group, or the whole class.


  1. What are some of the changes that allow different animals to survive the winter?
  2. What happens when bears hibernate?
  3. How does the expert interviewed help bears?
  • Classroom Discussion:

Take time for student reflection on the audio story. Use the discussion questions to focus students on what needs must be met in order for animals to survive (e.g., food, warmth, etc.) and different ways that animals have adapted to survive the winter (e.g., moving/migration, sleeping/hibernation, changing food source, etc.).


  1. How do humans adapt to survive cold winters, and how do those adaptations compare to those of wild animals?
  2. What are some other ways that animals have adapted to harsh environments?

Next Step: Paired Text

Use the Wonderopolis article Who Takes the Longest Nap? to pair with this audio story.

Ask students to talk with a partner about the information they learned from both the audio story and the article about how animals survive winter and what happens to animals when they hibernate. Revisit what students said they knew about hibernation before listening to the story, add new information they learned, and correct any misconceptions they might have had.

Quiz Answers: 1>D / 2>B / 3>C / 4>A

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Text materials provided by Listenwise

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