Cloverbud science activities - Part 2

Programs for 5- to 8-year-olds can provide youth an opportunity to explore science through hands on activities.

Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development offers programming for younger youth to explore new opportunities that aim to set a solid foundation for lifelong success.  The Cloverbud program’s goal is to promote healthy development in children by enhancing life skills such as social-interaction, self-esteem, making choices and learning to learn through short term learning experiences.

Because 4-H programs use the Experiential Learning Model as an approach to teach youth in a hands on, fun way, conducting science experiments and making various crafts is a great way to work effectively with youth between 5- and 8-years-old.

Science related activities and crafts will be described and highlighted over a series of articles. These are also fun ideas for parent-child activities during school breaks.

The second, exciting science project that will be highlighted in this series is how to create a hibernating bear den. This activity uses a literary component to discuss hibernation. Children will learn about all the different animals that hibernate in the winter and have the opportunity to make their own “dens” to hibernate in.

What you will need:

A large cardboard box, around 3x3 feet

Packing tape

Brown paint

Large paintbrush


Blankets and pillows


1) Share a story with your child about bears and hibernation such as “Time to Sleep” by Denise Fleming or “Bear Snores On” by Karma Wilson. After reading about bears, discuss hibernation and see if your child knows any other animals that hibernate during the winter months.

2) Seal the box with packing tape (children may need an adult help to do this).

3) Invite the children to help create the den by painting the outside of their big box. They can use a large paintbrush and brown paint to transform the box into a cave – encouraging children to use their imagination to create their den.

4) While the box cave is drying, talk about the things that your child will need to put in their dens to make it comfy and cozy Pillows and cozy blankets to place inside the cave are great ideas, along with having a nice snack to help them stay full, just like a bear does before hibernating. Bears love to eat nuts and berries before their long sleep, so a bowl of mixed nuts and cut berries might be in order!

5) Cut a large hole in the side of the box for getting in and out of the bear cave.

6) When complete, have your child find the perfect spot to position their cave for hibernating.

This fun activity allows Cloverbuds to learn all about the animals that make their habitats outdoors and hibernate during the long Michigan winters.

This is Part 2 in a series. You can find Part 1 here.

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