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Winter Science: How do Animals Stay Warm?

In the midst of winter, staying inside by the fire with a blanket certainly seems ideal. People bundle up in layers to brave the cold and blustery temperatures. Animals however, don’t have furnaces, coats, and blankets. So when they build their shelters, what materials do they use to keep them warm during the winter months? Peak children’s curiosity with this notion and take advantage of a nice winter day to venture outdoors and conduct a fun science experiment. It will be a great way to get moving and learning outside just when you are all experiencing a little bit of cabin fever!

For this experiment you only need a few simple items:

  • Clear cups
  • Thermometer
  • Some habitat items (grass, rocks, leaves, dirt, sticks)
  • Printable

First, fill cups with the habitat items. Next, use your thermometer to measure the temperature of the air to see how cold it is outside! Then place the thermometer in each cup, measure the temperature, and write those temperatures down. Draw a picture of a warm animal shelter and label your building materials.

Finally, take a few minutes to analyze and reflect on the experiment!

Here are some follow up questions to ask:

  1. Which natural item kept the warmest temperature? Why do you think this is the warmest?
  2. Which natural item had the coldest temperature? Why do you think this is the coldest?
  3. If you were an animal building a shelter, what type of natural items would you use in the winter to keep warm?
  4. What are some other materials we could include in this experiment?
  5. Aside from their homes, what other adaptations do animals’ bodies have to stay warm?

Hopefully a little fresh air and a little curiosity can bring some much needed excitement to your chilly day!


Resources and Inspiration (members only):

Animals in Winter Thematic Exploration

Design a Winter Home

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Playful Learning Field Guides

Grab these handy field guides on your way to park or walk around the block. Add a basket for collecting and a magnifying glass for observing you are set for a memorable outdoor adventure