• Lower School
The Secret Life of Bears: Hibernation, Migration, and Adaptation

by Charly Weiss and Kate Treat, 1st Grade Teachers

Have you ever wondered what happens to animals in winter? Where are all the bees, hummingbirds, frogs, and turtles? In 1st Grade at TCS, the 1st Graders have embarked on a research project and are studying how animals adapt to colder conditions when food is scarce by entering into a state of hibernation. The students are learning how these hibernating animals’ hearts and breathing rates slow down and body temperatures drop. Hibernation offers these animals a special adaptation that helps them conserve their energy. Another way animals respond to changes in temperatures and seasons is by migrating or adapting in some way. Some animals that are “true hibernators” are bees, snakes, bats, and woodchucks. Surprisingly, bears are not “true hibernators”! They do go into a deep sleep, but occasionally they might wake up to have a snack or take a walk on a sunny day!

To kick off our big research project about these animals, the 1st Graders each picked an animal they were interested in learning more about and chose a book to use for their research. They used their books and other online resources to find out information about their animals, such as what it eats, where it lives, interesting facts about their animal, and what it looks like. Of course, the big question they had to find out was, “Does my animal hibernate, migrate, or adapt?”

These 1st Graders are proudly displaying the animals they chose: 

The 1st Graders were hard at work finding out information about their animals. The students learned how to use a Table Of Contents to find information. They also used graphic organizers to help keep track of the information they found. 

Sometimes research requires the children to work together:

Sometimes information we are looking for can’t be found in our books, so we turn to online resources to try to answer the questions we have:


The next step in their research will be organizing our information into a book about our animal. The 1st Graders will use this research project as a springboard for our study on emperor penguins and Antarctica. Soon they will be packing their bags for a trip to Antarctica to study these amazing birds who survive the Antarctic ice and its waters by relying on many clever adaptations!