April 18, 2006

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Sleepy Bear

Students will be able to:

1. define hibernation and qualify it for bears
2. equate hibernation with survival, and
3. list characteristics and results of hibernation.

Students measure their own heart rate, breath rate, and temperature before and after a highly physical game and compare it to a bear hibernating to conserve energy.


  1. Get the students to relax in some way. (Play music, tell them to rest, take deep breaths.)
  2. Have the students take their heart rate for 10 seconds and multiply by 6. Have them record the information.
  3. The students also check their breath rate by holding their hand in front of their faces and counting their breaths per minute. They record the information.
  4. The students can either take their temperature with a thermometer or feel their forehead and record hot, warm, or cold.
  5. After everything is recorded, have the students get up and run in place one minute to warm up.
  6. Tell the students there is *candy or fake food chips hidden in the room. (Candy will probably be more motivating.) *Other food items can be used.
  7. The students have two to four minutes to gather the food. They are to find as much food as they can. If they find real food, they should eat it before looking for more. If fake food is used, they should imagine taking the time to eat it before going on.
  8. Stop the students and immediately take pulse, breath, and temperatures. Record these.
  9. After the students have sat down, begin a discussion of what they did and hibernation of bears. Ask "Who got food? How much? If this were your only food source, what would happen now that you have used it up?" (possible responses- look for more, die, or hibernate)
  10. Compare before-and-after measurements. Lead to conclusion that less energy (food) is needed when resting.
  11. Ask students to give examples in nature where animals rest to survive with little or no food for long periods of time. (bears, squirrels, etc.)
  12. Define hibernation. Qualify hibernation for bears. (Some people don't think bears hibernate.) Hibernation: The act of passing the winter or a portion of it in the state of sleep; a torpid or resting state.
  13. Show chart with mean respiration, heart rate, and temperature for active and dormant black bears in Idaho.
  14. Have students fill in the numbers themselves to help them make observations on characteristics of hibernation.
  15. Include other characteristics of hibernation -no defecation, urination, or food intake.


  1. Give three examples of animals which hibernate.
  2. Tell what would happen to bears if they didn't hibernate. (They would not survive.)
  3. Give three examples of bodily functions that change during hibernation.

    Respiration Chart


  • clock
  • *candy or fake food chips
  • thermometers
    (options-pencils, data sheet to record heart rates, breath rates, and temperature.)
    *Other food items can be used.

Many thanks to Idaho Fish and Game and Project WILD for all of their help in this project. Information for this site developed from "WILD ABOUT BEARS," and is copyrighted by Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Idaho Project WILD. Permission obtained and granted to use this material for educational purposes. Photographic images were provided by the Department of
Fish and Game.
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