The end of fall or the beginning of winter is a good time to introduce the children to the concept of hibernation. Where do all the animals go in the winter? Where do they sleep? Are they cold?
I have two favorite books that I read, Where Do All the Birds Go? and Prickly Pig. Where do all the Birds Go is an easy read and each page shows a different animal and where it goes to sleep through the winter. Prickly Pig is the story of a hedgehog who tries out various homes and nests before ending up under a pile of dry leaves.
- paper bowls
- scraps of material
- natural materials like moss and dry grasses, leaves
- clay or Plasticine
- googly eyes
- store-bought plastic frogs.
Show them the pictures from the books and let each child choose which animal they want. Creatures they can make: frogs to put under the mud, prickly hedgehogs and snakes to put under dry leaves or birds in their nests. They can use clay or Plasticine for the body of the animal and then decorate them with googly eyes and straw pieces for the hedgehog’s prickles.
Each child takes a bowl and builds her animal nest using the scraps and gathered materials. Discuss how the animals make a cozy bed for the winter.
The children place their animals in their nests and cover them with leaves or mud. If you do this craft in winter, the children can pile snow on top as well.
Extend the project by having the children put their animals in an outdoor shed for the duration of the winter and then taking them back out in the spring. This is an exciting activity because the children have forgotten the animals are “sleeping”. Waking them up becomes a ritual to signal the beginning of spring.