Inside: The toddler preschool hibernation theme is a perfect time to talk about temperature and where animals go when it’s cold outside. Invite your children to climb into a pretend bear’s den, make a cave out of paper bowls, and read some fun bear books!
Even though bears don’t truly hibernate like other animals, we include them in this theme because they sleep a lot, often for long periods of time.
This ties in nicely with the topic of day and night, too.
We set up a bear’s den in our dramatic play area that not only fits our big bears, but the children love to curl up in it, too!
We make our own bear’s den at the art table and have fun reading different books about animals hibernating.
Our children are also invited to bring their favorite stuffed animal to school!
👉 Scroll down to find a free printable bear color matching activity!
Activities for the Toddler and Preschool Hibernation Theme
While planning the toddler and preschool hibernation theme, I also keep in mind what my students are interested in. Not every activity has to do with hibernation. This is important to know, as I’ve seen many educators feel the entire classroom must reflect the current theme.
Therefore, you will see activities in this post that have nothing to do with hibernation, but I want to share them anyways, so you can get a feel for how my classroom is laid out.
One of my favorite additions to the hibernation theme is a bear’s den. While bears don’t truly hibernate like other animals, we talk about how they sleep a lot inside their den because it’s nice and warm. After reading several books about bears during winter, the children love to act out what they’ve learned.
First, we create a simple den out of a big cardboard appliance box.
This is probably the simplest den I’ve ever had in the classroom – a brown sleeping bag hung over the box. It was handed down to us from another classroom, so I left it as is.
However, recently I saw how a teacher invited her young children to help her make the den. I love this idea and am noting it for next year. How much more meaningful this cave would have been had there been a discussion on what the den would look like. Is there snow? If so, where would it be on the outside of the den? What animals could go inside?
The class downstairs gave us their 2 big bears which were a hit with the children. I also invited them to bring their own stuffed animals. This was very exciting!
We had a den of animals being tucked into their den to keep warm during the cold winter days.
The children also climbed in the den and pretended to be hibernating animals.
We could have had this den in our classroom for much longer, but because we share materials with our entire preschool, we had to pass it on.
(We are working on changing this for next year so that we can extend themes. One week is just too short.)
After dying rice different shades of brown, I placed it in the sensory bin with pom poms (I love providing different textures), blocks, and dens that we made from paper bowls
I also added wood numbers (I’m always finding ways to build number recognition skills), bears, and scoops.
We worked on color recognition and sorting skills with this fun light table activity. We painted paper bowls different colors and adding counting bears.
Related: Color Sorting Bear Activity
I love adding hands-on learning activities to our circle times.
This bear cave activity involves 4 different colored caves and bears. I placed the caves on the floor and then handed each child a different colored bear.
As I called their names, the children placed their bears on the same colored cave.
👉 Note: Scroll down to find the link to download this free printable!
Not only did we have a big bear’s den in the dramatic play area, but we made our own small ones at the art table, too!
We used our simple 2-ingredient fluffy paint (the same that was used in our big wooden snowflakes activity) and cotton balls with paper bowls and plates.
We cut an opening in the bowl, turned it upside down, and glued it to a paper plate.
Then, a big brown pom pom was stashed inside, acting as the hibernating bear.
Shapes Magnets (I like to use small cookie sheets with these since they are magnets.)
I love to add literacy to all areas of the classroom, including playdough.
This week we used our alphabet dough stampers and the children loved finding the letters in their names.
Books to go with this theme:
❄️Toddler and Preschool Winter Lesson Plans❄️
We’ve done the work for you! We now have interactive thematic lesson plans for toddlers (18-35 months) AND preschoolers (3-5 years)!
Get ready for fun and learning with unit lesson plans for winter.
Explore a variety of themed hands-on activities!
Easy to follow lesson plans include activity modifications and adaptations to meet the needs of all learners.
For more information, click on the graphics below: