1. To introduce toddlers to the idea that many animals must prepare in fall for the cold and winter ahead
2. To explore cold through sensory activities
Activity: Oh, What to Wear?
Look at the pictures. Select one and talk about what is happening in the picture. Ask your tot to pick appropriate clothes for the weather. Ask questions like, “Is it cold?” “Is it wet?”
Activity: Polar Painting
Fill ice cube trays with water. Insert a Popsicle stick into each section and freeze. When you are ready to paint, have your tot sprinkle tempera paint or powdered drink mix or gelatin mix onto their paper. Give her an ice cube. Using the stick as a handle, spread the powder around onto the paper.
Activity: What’s Inside?
Inside a feely bag, place an ice pack or microwave heat pack. Tell your tot the feely bag has something inside to feel. Don’t peek. What does it feel like? Is it cold or warm?
Activity: Glacier Bay
Fill a tub with warm water. Add large ice blocks for icebergs. Milk and Juice cartons work well. Add food coloring if you like. Add boats and rubber ducky too! If you don’t have boats already, make one from a walnut.
Activity: Stain Glass Bear
Give your tot a contact paper that has been cut out in the shape of a bear. Help them to tear and place different colors of tissue paper on the contact paper shape. Add googly eyes. Hang in the window for a stained glass look.
Activity: Time to Sleep
Find a container that can be used as a small cave (a gallon ice cream container works well). Cover the container in brown paper. Lay the container on its side. Find a small stuffed animal. Tell your tot that winter is coming. It’s time for the animals to take his long winter’s nap. Place the animal into his cave and say, “Shh, he is sleeping.” Next tell your little one that spring is here! It’s time for him to wake up! Have your tot pull the animal out of his cave and do a little spring dance! Now start the game over again.
Activity: Bear Cave
Create your own bear den from a large box. Decorate it if you wish. Pretend that you are Mamma/Papa Bear and your tot is Baby Bear (or the other way around). Say, “It’s almost time for winter, baby bear. Eat as much as you can so that you will grow nice and fat for the winter.” (pretend to munch on berries and nuts). Tell your tot, “Winter is here, baby bear. It’s time to sleep for the winter.” (go into your cave and go to sleep).
Activity: Musical Hibernation Game
Few animals actually sleep all winter or hibernate. The woodchuck is Iowa’s only true hibernator. Many animals survive winter by taking long naps (bear, skunk, opossum, raccoon, etc.). Lay out a mat or carpet square (one for each person). Explain to your tot that while the music is playing the animals (you and tot) are dancing. When the music stops, it is wintertime–time to find a spot to sleep. Ask your tot if they are a bear, raccoon, etc.
Activity: Bye, Bye Birdy
This is the time of year to keep your eye on the sky as many kinds of birds begin their annual migration south. Whether you spot a flock of Canada geese (point out their shape and loud honking sound to your tot) or other bird species, the sight of so many birds flying together in the sky, or resting in the yard or nearby trees, is always an amazing sight! See how many birds you can count with your little one, imitate their sound, invite your tot to “fly” with you around the house our room.
Activity: Winter is coming, winter is coming!
Forest animals are really active this time of year! Birds are eating a lot so they have the energy to fly south. Those animals that stay, must store food for the winter. Find a quiet place in the woods and lie down or sit for awhile. Did you see that chipmunk scurrying under the leaves? Did you see his big cheeks? Watch the squirrel climb the tree. What is he doing with that big nut in his mouth? Can you hear the birds high up in the trees? They seem to chatter a lot in the fall. What do you think they are talking about?
Activity: Feed the Squirrels, A Counting Activity
Squirrels gather lots of seeds to store for the winter. This is called caching. You can help feed the squirrels. First prepare the squirrel feeding station. You can make the station by placing squirrel shapes, pictures or stuffed animals around the yard or room. Cut out five to ten squirrel shapes and staple each to the top of a Dixie cup. Write a number on each cup. Go on a walk and gather nuts, seeds, acorns, etc. Help your tot to count how many nuts or seeds they need for that squirrel.
Fill a large container with snow or cold salt. Use cups, containers, and spoons, to fill and dump just like you would in a sandbox.
Bear is Sleeping
(to the tune of Frere Jacques)
Bear is sleeping. Bear is sleeping.
Let it snow! Let it snow!
Sleeping all the winter, sleeping all the winter
Snug and warm, snug and warm
Who’s that scampering up the tree,
It’s Mr. Squirrel with a tail so furry
He’s ready for winter, don’t you worry.
Hibernation Finger Play
Here is a cave (bend fingers on one hand)
Inside is a bear. (Put thumb inside fingers)
Now he comes out
To get some fresh air. (Pop out thumb)
He stays out all summer
In sunshine and heat.
He hunts in the forest
For berries to eat. (Move thumb in a circle)
When snow starts to fall,
He hurries inside
His warm little cave
And there he will hide. (Put thumb inside fingers)
Snow covers the cave
Like a fluffy white rug.
Inside the bear sleeps
All cozy and snug. (Place one hand over the other).
Will You Read to Me?
Take time to enjoy a story.
Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows
The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri
Mouse’s First Fall by Lauren Thompson
Activities provided by:
E Resources Group
2550 Stagecoach Road
Webster City, Iowa 50595-7375
Toddling on the Wild Side was supported by REAP-CEP