At-home and at school learning resources from Learning for a Sustainable Future
Fall Week 10: Getting Ready for Winter
This week's Step Outside guide is all about getting ready for winter! While it may seem like nature is starting to pause as the temperatures start to drop, some animals are hard at work preparing for the upcoming winter. As the cold sets in, the Muskrats are on the move searching for unoccupied marshland. They start building dome-shaped lodges in and around the mud of shallow lakes and dig dens deep into the banks of ponds and slow-moving rivers.

Animals like chipmunks retreat below ground to store their food and spend the bulk of their winter. Other animals like raccoons and skunks don't store nearly as much food, but rather rely on their body fat to keep warm during their extended periods of sleep. On the other side of nature, just as you begin to think all the flowers have disappeared, we see plants like the Witch Hazels start to bloom.

As you can see, there's quite a lot going on during this time of the year! Be sure to visit our Mid November Step Outside Guide and try out some of the activities below to help take your learning outdoors and learn about some other happenings in nature this November!
Grades K-4
This resource teaches students about the seasonal adaptations of local wildlife through diverse activities that incorporate games, displays and habitat investigations. Students examine the changes in appearance and behaviour that occur in animals as they prepare for winter. They also learn that many Canadian animals need unique wintering habitats to survive the cold weather.  

What did you think of Winter is Coming?
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As Canadians, we know winter is harsh, but imagine what our native wildlife must go through! This lesson uses appealing activities to develop an understanding of winter survival mechanisms in animals. An active outdoor component also engages students in exploring the dynamic natural world that surrounds us in winter.

  • To make it through to the next spring, animals have developed three different coping strategies: move out, sleep through, or tough it out. Read about the Movers, Sleepers and Tough Guys to learn who migrates, hibernates or adapts
  • Find statistics on different hibernating animals and create bar graphs, pictographs, and other charts. Which animals gain or lose weight? Which animal hibernates the longest? How does the animal's hibernating heartbeat compare to its normal heartbeat?
  • Get outside and participate in Keep Your Creature Warm, an activity that looks at the importance of good insulation for hibernating species
  • Find animals that hibernate in this word search puzzle
  • Look for signs of animal and insect activity and other natural treasures with this Winter Scavenger Hunt for Wildlife Detectives
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This easy to implement activity provides students and teachers with a blueprint for building a winter bird-feeding station. Using readily available and inexpensive materials, students create different types of feeders to attract a variety of over-wintering birds and small mammals. This project provides opportunities for students to witness biodiversity and adaptation in their schoolyard and, at the same time, provide important wildlife habitat (food and shelter) at a very stressful time of the year.

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Grades 7-12
Wildlife use dens or burrows for many different reasons and purposes, such as shelter, protection, reproduction, etc. Some of the dens are temporary, and others are more permanent. In this resource, students will gather information about an animal and their burrow. After completing the research, they will develop a scale model including different chambers and their purposes of the burrow or den and present it to the class.

  • Get outside and participate in the Winter Wildlife Game, a predator-prey game in which adaptations to the cold and snow conditions are highlighted. Both predators and prey must endure a series of winter conditions, which may result in their gaining or losing food cards 
  • Research an animal that makes a burrow or den underground. Have students gather information about their chosen species, where do they live, their habitat and range, type of den or shelter, do they create a single hole, multiple rooms, how do they use the den or burrow, how are they adapted to create the burrow
  • After completing the research, sketch out a plan for a model replica of the den or burrow for your animal
  • Create a scale model of the den or burrow, including different chambers and their purposes. Make the model from recycled materials or other materials that students can gather
  • Share your burrow or den models with us at #LearningInsideOut
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About Learning Inside Out

Above you will find a selection of activities, broken down by various grade levels. These guides will be released weekly and archived on our Learning Inside Out page, so you can always access the full catalogue.

All activities have been modified from resources on our R4R database, simplified and adapted for both outdoor learning in the school yard or at-home as needed. The activity descriptions above should contain all the information and links that you need!

If you'd like to view the full original resource on R4R, including curriculum connections for every province/territory, click the activity title.

We want this guide to work for you, so your feedback is invaluable to us.
Use the feedback button at the bottom of this Guide, or email us at We would also love to see photos of students engaging in the activities, please e-mail us any pictures or videos you have!
Let us know how this helped your learning and teaching from home or at school indoors and (hopefully) outdoors and what you'd like to see more of by filling out our brief feedback form!
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Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF) is a Canadian charity with over 25 years of experience working within the education system. Our Resources for Rethinking (R4R) database is an award-winning collection of resources that are peer-reviewed by certified teachers and connected to curriculum in all provinces and territories. R4R is recommended on many Ministry of Education websites.
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