Animals Prepare for Winter: Do Not Disturb


Students will explore some of the different strategies animals use to survive the winter.


  • Riddle game pieces, cut apart
  • 1 small box
  • Writing/drawing utensils
  • Paper
  • Blackboard or dry-erase board
  • Pictures of animals (optional)


  1. Read "How the Turtle Flew South for Winter" to your students.  Ask your students to tell you the two survival techniques listed in the story. Define migration and hibernation and ask the students to list other animals that use those techniques for winter survival.
  2. If you have not already done so introduce the four other techniques animals use to make it through the winter.  Make six columns on your blackboard, label with the new vocabulary words.
  3. Bring out a box with the cut out riddles inside.  Tell students you have a box of riddles.  They will have to figure out what animal the riddle refers to and what that animal does to make it through the winter.  Many of the animals do more than one thing.
  4. Have students take turns pulling the riddles from the box and reading them aloud.  Read riddles aloud to younger students.  Have a different student try and solve the riddle.  If students are having trouble solving the riddle, show them a picture of the animal, only revealing a portion of the picture at a time or give them clues.
  5. Record the animal in the appropriately labeled column(s) on the board.
  6. After reading all the riddles, let each child choose an animal to illustrate, perhaps in the midst of its winter activity.  Older students can also research and write about their animals and then give presentations.  Students can also act out charades of the animals as their classmates try to guess which one they are depicting.

Animal Riddles

1.  I am the only mammal that can fly. I come out at night for insects moving by. I like to sleep through the winter with all of my furry friends around me.



2.  I am a round, spotted, red and black insect. I like to eat aphids before my long winter nap. When winter comes around I find thousands of friends and we cuddle up under logs and leaves on the ground.



3.  In the summer I buzz around to make honey for my hive. When winter comes I stay in with my friends and we eat the honey to help keep us alive.



4.  I have longs legs and a large white rump. I like to eat plants all winter long and my fur is hollow and brown. During the winter, from the mountains I come down.



5.  Many people don’t like me because of my smell. Although I am a cute black and white little mammal. I nap for most of the cold winter days, popping my head out of my burrow when it’s warm enough to play.



6.   I’m an insect with long front legs that I use to hop around. In winter I die, but don’t worry about me, I left my eggs in the ground.



7.  I like to climb pine trees and chew on their bark. I’m not soft and cuddly; in fact I’m rather sharp. You can still see me nibbling around when the snow is falling to the ground.



8.  I’m often green and sometimes brown. I hop to find my way around. When the pond freezes over with ice all above, being down below in the gooey mud is what I love.



9.  I sit in a tree and call out “Dee, Dee, Dee”. I fluff out my feather to hold in the heat and flap quickly around finding insects to eat.



10. I live high in the mountains eating berries and meat. I make a small den for my winter retreat.



11.  I like to fill my red belly with worms, but I fly away south when the weather starts to turn.



Answer Key


1.  Bat – Congregate & Hibernate

2.     Ladybug – Congregate & Hibernate

3.     Honey Bees -Congregate, Generate

4.     Mule Deer – Migrate, Generate

5.     Skunk – Hibernate

6.     Grasshopper – Propagate

7.     Porcupine – Generate

8.     Frog – hibernate

9.     Chickadee – Insulate, Generate

10.  Black bear – Hibernate

11.  Robin - Migrate

 How the Turtle Flew South for Winter

It was the time of the year when the leaves start to fall from the aspens. Turtle was walking

around when he saw many birds gathering together in the trees. They were making a lot of noise and

Turtle was curious.

"Hey," Turtle said, "What is happening?"

"Don't you know?" the birds said. "We're getting ready to fly to the south for the winter."

"Why are you going to do that?" asked Turtle.

"Don't you know anything?" the birds replied. "Soon it is going to be very cold here and the

snow will fall. There won't be much food to eat. Down south it will be warm. Summer lives there

all of the time and there is plenty of food."

As soon as they mentioned the food, Turtle became even more interested. "Can I come with

you?" he asked.

"You have to fly to go south," said the birds. "You are a turtle and you can't fly."

But Turtle would not give up. "Isn't there some way you could take me along?” He begged and

pleaded. Finally the birds agreed just to get him to stop asking.

"Look here," the birds said, "can you hold onto a stick hard with your mouth?"

"That is no problem at all," Turtle said. "Once I grab onto something no one can make me let go

until I am ready."

"Good," said the birds. "Then you hold on hard to this stick. These two birds will each grab one

end of it in their claws. That way they can carry you along. But remember, you have to keep your

mouth shut!"

"That's easy," said Turtle. "Now let's go south where Summer keeps all that food.” Turtle

grabbed onto the middle of the stick and the two big birds came and grabbed each end. They flapped

their wings hard and lifted Turtle off the ground. Soon they were high in the sky and headed south.

Turtle had never been so high off the ground before, but he liked it. He could look down and see

how small everything looked. But before they had gone too far, he began to wonder where they

were. He wondered what the lake was down below him and what those hills were. He wondered

how far they had come and how far they would have to go to get to the south where Summer lived.

He wanted to ask the two birds who were carrying him, but he couldn't talk with his mouth closed.

Turtle rolled his eyes. But the two birds just kept on flying.

Then Turtle tried waving his legs at them, but they acted as if they didn't even notice. Now Turtle

was getting upset. If they were going to take him south, then the least they could do was tell him

where they were!

"Mmmph," Turtle said, trying to get their attention. It didn't work. Finally Turtle lost his temper.

"Why don't you listen to...." but that was all he said, for as soon as he opened his mouth to speak, he

had to let go of the stick and he started to fall. Down and down fell, a long, long way. He was so

frightened that he pulled his legs and his head in to protect himself! When he hit the ground, he hit

so hard that his shell cracked. He was lucky that he hadn't been killed, but he ached all over. He

ached so much that he crawled into a nearby pond, swam down to the bottom, and dug into the mud

to get as far away from the sky as he possibly could. Then he fell asleep and he slept all through the

winter and didn't wake up until spring.

So it is that today only the birds fly south to the land where summer lives while turtles who all

have cracked shells now, sleep through the winter.

Animals and Plants Prepare for Winter - Vocabulary list

Migrate -to pass periodically from one region or climate to another,as certain birds, fishes, and mammals

Hibernate - to spend the winter in close quarters in a dormant condition, as bears and certain other animals.

Propagate - to reproduce by leaving behind eggs

Congregate - to come together in a large crowd or group

Generate - to produce energy through movement or food

Insulate - to cover or separate with a material that prevents or reduces the passage, transfer, or leakage of heat.