Lesson Plans and Activities
The North American Bear Center's Educational Outreach team encourages teachers to proactively plan and adapt the delivery of the following lessons to match students' readiness levels, interests, and preferred mode of learning. By answering the key questions on the Curriculum Map, students will deepen their learning about black bears and experience an enduring understanding.
Because teachers are often constrained by time, the need to teach other disciplines, and the need to meet mandated education standards, the following lessons offer a cross-curricular, integrated approach to teaching about black bears. We are aware of and celebrate the diversity of students, and hope to provide opportunities in our lessons for students with varied learning styles and multiple intelligences by diversifying instruction with writing, art, dramatization, songs, games, hands-on activities, and cooperative learning techniques.
Lessons are adaptable to a variety of grade levels. If you are teaching older students and feel they need more foundational information, adapt lessons designed for younger students to your classroom. The process of how the material in a lesson is learned may be differentiated for students based on their learning styles, taking into account what standards of performance are required for a particular age level. Teachers are encouraged to adapt what they want the students to learn or how the students will gain access to the knowledge, understanding and skills presented. Students could have a choice to work in pairs, groups or individually, but all students would be working towards the same content standards and objectives.
ABCs of Black Bears
Students learn about black bears in an alphabetic overview with each letter corresponding to a biological or behavioral fact. This is a print version of the PowerPoint presentation included in the Black Bear Box. Videos are not available in this print version, however, most are available online at Bear Videos.
Students learn scientific facts about bears and communicate those facts in one or more written poems. Poetry styles included in this lesson are Acrostics, Limericks, Haiku, Diamante, Cinquains, Free Verse, and Rhyming Poems.
Students learn scientific facts about bears and share factual information in report form.
Bearwalker Student Worksheet
Bearwalker of the Northwoods, a full one-hour documentary by the BBC, reveals an intimate portrait of the lives of black bears in northern Minnesota. The movie is available through the webstore (click here).
Become a Bear Scientist
Students use observation and process skills to document bear behavior. Live or archived den cam footage is used.
Black Bear Alphabet Tree
The students will be exposed to vocabulary used in the study of the American black bear, which can be used to support letter and word recognition skills.
The Black Bear Shuffle
Students will gain an understanding of the basic needs black bears require to survive and thrive in their environment. The basic needs of all animals are food, water, air, shelter and space. If these needs are not met the animal may die or not thrive.
Compare and Contrast
Student will gain knowledge in the area of scientific facts about bears and at least one other animal and will share factual information.
Grade level: 1 – 6
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Family Tree: Shadow's Clan
Students will learn the important principles of family history research. This lesson lays the groundwork for understanding the importance of studying successive generations to obtain data.
A Fat Bear is a Healthy Bear
Students learn that food is one of the basic needs of survivial and that hibernation is an adaptation that allows black bears to survive when their natural food is unavailable. Black bears have adaptation for obtaining food. Students will use their sense of smell to understand how black bears have adapted a keen sense of smell to facilitate obtaining food.
Grade level: K – 2
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Hibernation Metabolism in American Black Bears
Students will learn the basic physiological and ecological factors that are important in the black bear’s ability to hibernate. The five annual cycles black bears experience will highlight how their bodies respond to changing environments as they prepare to den for the winter. This is a print version of the PowerPoint presentation included in the Black Bear Box.
How Many Black Bears Will Reproduce?
Student will understand the limiting factors of an environment’s carrying capacity, competition within a species to survive and basic needs for survival.
I'm a Junior Biologist
Students role play biologists and use observation and recording skills as they examine a tranquilized black bear during a simulated den visit. Data collection and recording are emphasized.
Making Bear Tracks
Students learn how scientists and trackers make plaster casts of animal tracks. Each student will make a track to paint and take home.
Touch and Feel Bag
Students will gain knowledge of the Black Bear through touch.