What Happens to Animals in the Various Seasons

FoxBig Ideas:

  • Animals have distinct characteristics.
  • There are similarities and differences among different kinds of animals.

This activity is suggested for use with the Ontario Curriculum. Grade 2, Life Systems

Inquiry Skills Used

This is a research activity with students using their observation skills to act as primary reference sources which will lead to inquiry-based learning.

Safety Considerations

  • Children should be helped to cut out the hole for the bird feeder.Birdfeeder
  • They will require adult supervision when hanging up their feeders outside.
  • Teachers are reminded to use only round tip scissors.


Students focus on patterns of growth and change in animals and the conditions that support the healthy development in an animal. In order to prepare students for the activity below, a series of lessons should be conducted to investigate what happens to animals in winter and spring.

Animals do different things to survive in the winter. The major focus is in finding enough food and staying warm. Some animals stay in the same place, some migrate to warmer places in the winter, and some adapt by growing fur, as do rabbits. When spring comes, animals that have migrated return to their summer homes. Animals that grew a thicker coat, lose much of their fur.

Students should learn about birds and their life cycle. Birds are not the only animals that have wings or lay eggs, but only birds have feathers. Birds that fly have powerful, flexible wings and stream-lined bodies. There are almost as many types of nests as species of birds. Robins make their nests out of twigs and found materials, and fasten them together with mud. A great way to study bird adaptation to winter is to build bird feeders.

What You Need

  • 1 L milk or juice carton with plastic cap for opener
  • Round tipped scissorsBird at feeder
  • Pencil or twig
  • Yarn
  • Bird
  • Seed
  • Materials to decorate the bird feeder

What to Do

  1. If the students are capable and the teacher deems the use of rounded scissor safe, using a 1 litre milk carton, students will cut a window in the carton about 1/3 the way up (large enough for a small bird to reach food).
  2. Cut two holes below the window and push a twig through for the birds to sit on.
  3. Cut holes at top of carton and attach yarn to hang the feeder.
  4. Students will then decorate their bird feeders.
  5. Fill the feeder with seeds.
  6. Hang above ground outside the classroom and have students observe the birds that visit in the winter-time. Things to consider include:
  • How do they eat?
  • Record what you see.
  • Try to identify the different types of birds.

The teacher may wish to pre-cut the milk cartons prior to starting this activity. The students can then focus on decorating, filling with seed, and suspending the carton.

Where to Go from Here?

Students can make a model of a robin in a nest, from egg to bird.

  • Using a small paper plate and modeling clay, make a model of a bird life cycle.
  • This demonstrates how a robin develops from egg to robin in the spring.

Students can also “Build a Bird” with a template of head, body, legs, beak, etc.

Make a booklet of bird words, ask questions, and answer them in their booklets.

A “bird” discovery table can be created with bird pictures, field guide, bird seed, eggs, nests, feathers, etc.  Place a magnifying glass for observation.

A class book can be created about amazing facts about birds.

STSE Links

  • What would the world be like if there were no birds?
  • Who eats the insects, who spreads the seeds?
  • Why do birds migrate out of an area?

Cross Curricular Connections

Language Arts- Reading

  • To enhance this activity, the following book can be read to the class as a teacher-directed reading: Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James.

This book is available online from The Magic Suitcase at the following site: www.magicsuitcase.ca.

  • A variety of language lessons can be done to complement this lesson. Students can do a science journal entry (picture with 1-2 sentences about what they observe when birds eat at their feeders).
  • Read the students a story called From Egg to Robin prior to making the model of the bird’s nest.


  • Weigh the seeds before they are placed in the feeder. One week later, weigh the remaining seeds.
  • Count how many birds use that feeder as a source of food. Chart the daily usage and the species of birds.
  • Graph the numbers of different species of birds observed.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Based in part on projects found in Animals Grow, Scholastic Canada, 2000 and Birds and How They Grow, National Geographic Society, 1987.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.