Cold Weather Adaptations Lesson Plan: Hibernation

Submitted by: Angela Watson

Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

In this lesson plan, which is adaptable for grades 3-8, students use BrainPOP resources to explore hibernation and animals’ cold weather adaptations. Students will also explain the process of hibernation using related vocabulary terms.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Understand how animals adapt to cold weather.
  2. Explain the process of hibernation using related vocabulary terms.


  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • LCD projector and/or interactive whiteboard
  • Copies of the Graphic Organizer with the Activity on the back


migration; adaptation; habit; hibernation; dormancy; metabolism; cellular; insulate; marsupials; tropical


Make a class set of photocopies of the Graphic Organizer with the Activity on the back. Preview the resources mentioned below and plan how they can be adapted for your students.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask students how long they think a hibernating bear can go without eating, drinking, urinating, or eliminating waste. Show the Graphs, Stats, and Facts to students and reveal the answer (100). Talk about some of the other bear hibernation facts on the page.
  2. Pass out the Graphic Organizer and have students work in groups to record what they already know (or think they know) about hibernation.
  3. Play the Hibernation movie for the class. Be sure to turn on the closed captioning to help students understand and recall what they're learning.
  4. Give groups several minutes to revisit their graphic organizer and add or edit information. Replay the movie through a second time if needed and pause for discussion.
  5. Have students flip their papers over and fill out the top (Matching) section of the activity. Talk about what the words mean and give students time to add any pertinent vocabulary to their graphic organizers.
  6. What are some other ways animals adapt to cold weather? Have students write their ideas down in the middle section of the activity (Question and Answer.) Encourage them to use their textbooks, other books, the internet, etc. to recall other animal adaptations. How do humans adapt to cold weather?
  7. Set a timer for two minutes and have students work with their groups to answer the final (Think About It) part of the activity. Challenge them to name as many animals that hibernate as possible before the timer goes off.
  8. Review students' responses as a class. If there are disagreements about whether certain animals hibernate, model how to use a search engine to find a reputable source and check student answers.
  9. Collect the graphic organizers and use them as an assessment of students' understanding.

Extension Activity:

Show the Hibernation Q&A. Have students work with their groups to research a question from the page that interests them (or their own question about hibernation) and share their findings with the class.