This is a simple, easy way to demonstrate how animals stay warm in cold temperatures.
First we talked about how some animals live in a very cold environment and I asked the children how they thought those animals stayed warm. The first answer was that animals have fur to keep them warm, then we talked about how humans stay warm in cold weather. We put on extra clothes, we warm up our environment by putting on the heating and we stay indoors more. Animals don’t have those options, but one way they can stay warm is by growing a thick layer of fat, which acts as an insulator to keep them warm. We set up this simple activity to demonstrate.
Ice or snow
Washing up bowl
Place ice and water in a washing up bowl.
Carefully place your hands in the ice water and time how long you can keep them in the water before it gets uncomfortable – be careful not to leave them in longer than that.
Put the glove on and cover with lard.
Put the gloved hand in the ice water and time how long it takes to feel uncomfortable.
You should find that the lard acts as an insulator and protects your hand from the cold of the icy water.
An insulator is something that doesn’t easily allow heat to escape.
If you have a thermometer can you record the water temperature?
How do animals stay warm in Winter?
Some animals hibernate, they build a den or burrow and sleep for the colder months. Their body temperature drops and heart rate slows down to conserve energy.
Other animals migrate for Winter, this means they move to a warmer climate where food is available.
Some animals adapt to the change in climate. They grow warmer fur or feathers or grow a layer of insulating fat. The fat also acts as a food store for when food is scarce.