This winter we shipped the Methow Valley Elementary second grade class up to the North Cascades Basecamp for a field trip to learn about how animals adapt to winter. There was a brief introduction in the Ecology Classroom, where Kim introduced myriad different kinds of adaptations, comparing and contrasting them to the methods that humans have developed to cope with the cold. We all have the same needs to survive, and each creature has its own methods of achieving these basic survival essentials.
She talked about the warm coats humans wear for winter, whereas some animals grow new layers of fur, or hollow fur that traps more heat near the body, and compared our drying, canning, and preserving of foods to the caching that many animals do to keep fed through the sparse, snowy months.
After introducing the kids to the theme of the day, we split up into four groups, which rotated through different stations: The first was in the classroom working on some art projects and word games related to adaptations. The kids then strapped on snowshoes and got to tromp around the forest surrounding the Basecamp looking for tracks and exploring different animal habitats with Kim and Steve.
Much fun was had by all, and, speaking for myself at least, we learned a lot about how many different ways there are to adapt to the harsh conditions we face.