Hibernation Station

Children will create a classroom hibernation station.

Lesson Objective

Children will learn about animals that hibernate in the winter and create a hibernation station.


What You'll Need

  • Pictures of animals that hibernate, such as bats, groundhogs, frogs, turtles, and chipmunks
  • Large appliance box
  • Old magazines (with pictures of animals in them)
  • Construction paper
  • Glue
  • Yarn
  • Hangers
  • Hole punch
  • Paint – brown, black, green, and white
  • Paintbrushes
  • Crayons
  • Markers

What To Do

Note: Cut a door in the bottom half of the box so the children can easily climb in and out of the hibernation station.

  1. Display the pictures of the animals, and help the children identify them.
  2. Discuss hibernation, which is a period of deep sleep experienced by some animals in the cold days of winter   (see Did You Know).
  3. Tell the children that each of the animals in the pictures they have seen hibernates for part or all of the winter.
  4. Tell the children that they will be creating a hibernation station out of the large appliance box.
  5. Allow the children to decorate the outside of the box with paint, markers, or crayons to make it look like a hibernation area for animals (see Did You Know).
  6. Place the box in the designated classroom area.
  7. Give children different opportunities to “hibernate” in the hibernation station. Because only 2 or 3 children will fit inside, you may have to limit their “hibernation periods.”

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Tell me some animals that hibernate.
  • Describe where you think animals go to hibernate.
  • Tell me what you think an animal would need to hibernate.
  • Describe what you think happens to an animal when they hibernate.

Explore, Extend & Integrate

  • Play a game of “Duck, Duck, Goose” with the children, but change the words to “Sleep, Sleep, Wake Up.”
  • Place pictures of animals that hibernate and animals that do not hibernate in the science area. Children can sort the pictures accordingly.
  • Have the children cut out (from old magazines) pictures of animals that hibernate (or allow the children to use the pictures you found) and glue them on construction paper. Make mobiles out of some of the pictures by punching a hole in the center of the top and tying one end of a length of yarn to the picture and the other end to a hanger. Hang the mobiles in a corner of the classroom to designate it as the “hibernation station.”

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Could children name some animals that hibernate?
  • Could children describe dens or caves as hibernation places for animals?
  • Could children explain that animals might need a safe, warm, or comfortable place to hibernate?
  • Could children describe that animals go to sleep when they hibernate?


Did You Know?

Hibernation is a very deep sleep experienced by some animals during the cold days of winter. Animals hibernate to conserve energy because food is not so easily found. During hibernation, an animal becomes inactive, its heart rate slows, and its breathing slows down. Animals that sleep in the winter have an internal control that will wake them up if they get too cold. True hibernating animals are chipmunks, groundhogs, opossums, dormice, bats, frogs, toads, turtles, lizards, snakes, snails, fish, shrimp, and some insects. Bears, raccoons, and skunks are NOT true hibernators. These animals are known as “light hibernators” and are dormant during the cold winter months. Light hibernators take long naps and can wake up for short periods of time to find food and then go back to sleep. They are like true hibernators in that their activity is reduced and their heart rate is much slower.

Hibernating animals get ready for winter by eating large amounts of food in the fall and storing it as body fat. Their excess body fat is used as energy during the winter. Animals seek out a good shelter for their long winter naps. Types of shelters include caves, underground tunnels, holes in trees or logs, under rocks or leaves, or in burrows. Some reptiles, such as frogs and turtles, may bury themselves deep in the mud.

Vocabulary: Child-Friendly Definitions

  • hibernate – to sleep through the winter in a den or burrow to conserve energy.
  • station – a place where people gather.
  • conserve – to keep something from being wasted.
  • inactive – not moving or lively.
  • dormant – asleep or at rest.
  • energy – the ability to have power to do work.

Lesson Tips

  • Have the children bring a favorite blanket or pillow to school to use during their rest time in the “hibernation station.”
  • Although we usually think of bears as hibernating in the winter, it is important to remind the children that bears are NOT true hibernators.


  • Hibernation by Margaret Hall
  • Animals in Winter by Henrietta Bancroft
  • Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep! by Maureen Wright
  • Curious George: A Winter’s Nap by H. A. Rey
  • Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson
  • Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson

Home School Resources

Home educators: use these printable lesson PDFs to teach this lesson to your home schoolers. They're available in English and Spanish.

While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.

Content Provided By

Common Core State Standards Initiative – These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge [1]. Visit the CCSS