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Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
The Great Grizzly
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for Teachers is divided into four sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the Lesson.
Steps -- Conducting the Lesson.
Extensions -- Additional Activities.
Tips -- Managing Resources and Student Activities.


  • Sheet of butcher-block paper (at least 10 feet long).
  • Books with photographs of grizzly bears.
  • Yard stick or measuring tape.
  • Videotape of the NATURE program WALKING WITH GIANTS: THE GRIZZLIES OF SIBERIA (optional). Check local listings for broadcast dates and times. Videotaping rights: Teachers have the right to tape NATURE programs and play them for instructional purposes for one year after the original broadcast. If you are unable to tape the program, you can purchase a copy of the video by contacting:
    WNET Video Distribution
    P.O. Box 2284
    South Burlington, VT 05407-2284
    (800) 336-1917
Computer Resources:
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:

  • Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
  • Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
  • Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
  • IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.

For more information, visit What You Need to Get Connected in wNetSchool's Internet Primer.

The following sites should be bookmarked:

  • The Bear Den -- Brown and Grizzly Bears

    This extensive bear-information site offers clear and concise data on grizzly bears' physical characteristics, diet, population and distribution, reproduction, and hibernation.

  • Meet the Bears

    This site profiles eight grizzly bears that live at the Grizzly Discovery Center. Some were born in captivity, others were rescued as cubs when their mothers were killed in the wild.

  • The Bear Den -- Brown Bear

    Dedicated to providing extensive information on all facets of the brown bear, this site is an excellent source for researching the brown bear's habitat, range, physical statistics, conservation status, and threats to survival. Don't miss the animated image of a grizzly bear walking.

  • The Bear Den -- Match the Bears

    This concentration game challenges visitors to find the matching pairs of bears in as few moves as possible. (The game requires a Java-enabled browser.)

  • The Bear Den -- Bear Conservancy Organizations

    This resource list gives the contact information for a number of organizations devoted to the protection of bears around the world.

  • The Cub Den -- Ten Facts about Bears

    This children's section of the extensive "Bear Den" site begins with a bear roar (if your computer has the necessary sound capabilities). This site provides links to "Amazing Facts About Bears" and a list of books about bears for young readers.

  • NATURE -- Walking with Giants

    This is WNET's Web companion piece to the NATURE program WALKING WITH GIANTS: THE GRIZZLIES OF SIBERIA. It includes information about grizzly-cub development, the relationship between grizzlies and humans, and links to online, print, and video resources about grizzlies.

  • The Total Yellowstone Page -- Bear Stories

    This collection of bear stories from Yellowstone National Park gives insight into bears' interactions with humans. At the bottom of this page, there's an email address where students can send questions and comments.

  • Bear Watch

    This Canadian site dispels myths about bears, presents an assortment of facts about these creatures, and gives updates on bears in the news.


    Time Allotment:
    This lesson requires approximately 3 class periods.

  • Show students some photographs of adult male grizzly bears, either from library books or the bookmarked Web sites. Based on the pictures, ask students to make predictions about the size of these immense creatures. Record all predictions on the board. Use the yard stick or measuring tape to mark on the edge of the butcher block paper the various predictions made. Explain that the class will work together to create a life-size poster of a grizzly that will be covered with interesting information about these bears.

    As part of the introduction, you may wish to show students an online map of where grizzly bears can be found.

  • Ask students to create a list of questions they would want to ask a scientist who specialized in grizzly bears. Write down all questions on the board under the heading "What We Want to Know about Grizzlies." Then explain that, using the Internet and their research skills, they are going to attempt to answer those questions. Once students have generated their own list of questions, distribute the list of Grizzly Bear Research Questions and ask students to select five more questions from the "What We Want to Know" list to add to the research questions. To help the class select, you may wish to have the class vote question-by-question, tally the totals, and write down the top five.

    Distribute the Vocabulary List.

    The Answer Key provides answers to the questions posed on the research-question sheet. The answers to the selected added questions will vary.

  • Create a life-size poster of an adult grizzly bear, about 10 feet long. Invite each of your students to annotate the poster with an interesting fact they discovered in the course of this lesson. Make sure that they all use a different bear fact.

  • To help students hone their observation and memory skills, have students divide into small teams and play the Match the Bears game on the Bear Den Web site.

  • Research Questions - ANSWER KEY

    Appearance & Behavior

    1) What color is a grizzly bear's fur?

  • A: The grizzly, a kind of brown bear, has chocolate-brown fur with silver tips.

    2) What is the weight of an average adult male grizzly bear (in pounds)?

  • A: An adult male grizzly can weigh about 1,500 pounds. It is important to realize that the size and weight of brown bears vary a great deal depending on the availability of food, climate conditions, etc.

    3) What is the difference between grizzly bears and brown bears?

  • A: Grizzly bears are a kind of brown bear.

    4) How fast can grizzly bears run?

  • A: Grizzlies can run as fast as 35 miles per hour for short distances.

    5) What is the life span of a grizzly bear in the wild?

  • A: Grizzly bears can live up to 25 years or more.

    6) How often does an adult female grizzly bear give birth to cubs?

  • A: Female grizzlies give birth about every 3-5 years. Adult female grizzly bears have an average of 2-3 cubs per litter, 8-10 cubs over a lifetime.

    7) How common are bear attacks on humans?

  • A: Bear attacks on humans are extremely rare. Humans are more likely to be killed by lightning or in a car accident than by a bear attack.

    Habitat & Diet

    8) What kinds of habitats do bears prefer?

  • A: Bears like to live in mountain forests, open meadows, and large river valleys.

    9) What do grizzlies eat? Are they herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

  • A: Bears are omnivores, because they eat a combination of fish, berries, and plants. About 75% of their diet consists of plants, such as flowers, grasses, berries, herbs, and nuts. The other 25% of their diet is animal flesh. Sometimes they kill their prey, other times they eat decaying animal carcasses.

    10) What senses does the grizzly bear use to find food?

  • A: Grizzly bears have a keen sense of smell -- about fifteen times more sensitive than a human's.

    11) What do grizzly bears do in the winter?

  • A: During the winter, bears hibernate. Their heart rate drops from between 40-70 beats per minute to as few as 8-12 beats per minute. Unlike other animals that hibernate, bears' body temperature drops only a few degrees. During hibernation, the bear does not eat, drink, or eliminate any body waste, and it loses a great deal of weight -- sometimes as much as 40% of its pre-hibernation weight.

    Conservation & Protection

    12) What is the estimated number of brown bears in North America? How has this number changed in the last 200 years?

  • A: It is estimated that there are between 40,000 and 50,000 brown bears in North America today. In the early 1800s, there were approximately twice this number.

    13) What is the main reason that grizzly bears are endangered?

  • A: Some people in Asia kill grizzly bears for their paws and pancreas. Some people believe that the bear pancreas has healing powers for humans. This is based on myth. So far, no scientific experiments have shown that the bear pancreas has any special effect on human health.

    14) When a naturalist raises a bear cub that has been orphaned, what are some challenges the naturalist faces? How can these challenges be overcome?

  • A: Bears normally learn how to hunt and fish from their mother. If they are reared by humans, they need to learn this important survival skill before they can be returned to the wild.

  • View in class the NATURE program WALKING WITH GIANTS: THE GRIZZLIES OF SIBERIA. (Optional.)


    Math - Invite your students to use their problem-solving skills to figure out these two challenges:

    • Grizzly bears eat as much as 90 pounds of food a day! How many days would it take a grizzly, eating at this rate, to consume a ton of food? (Ton = 2,000 pounds)

      (ANSWER: 23 days)

    • How much food does the average adult male grizzly eat in a year? (Keep in mind that these bears hibernate about seven months of the year.)

      (ANSWER: approximately 13,500-14,000 pounds of food a year -- about 7 tons.)


    One Computer in the Classroom
    If you have access to one computer in your classroom, you can organize your class in several ways. Divide your class into two groups. Instruct one of the groups to do paper research while the second group is working on the computer. Bring in books, encyclopedias, etc., from the library for the group doing paper research. When the groups have finished working, have them switch places.

    If you have a big monitor or projection facilities, you can do Internet research together as a class. Make sure that every student in your class can see the screen, go to the relevant Web site(s), and review the information presented there. You can also select a search engine page and allow your students to suggest the search criteria. Again, bookmark and/or print the pages that you think are helpful for reference later.

    Several Computers in the Classroom
    Divide your class into small groups. Groups can do Internet research using pages you have bookmarked. Group members should take turns navigating the bookmarked site.

    You can also set the class up so that each computer is dedicated to certain sites. Students will then move around the classroom, getting different information from each station.

    Using a Computer Lab
    A computer center or lab space, with a computer-to-student ratio of one to three, is ideal for doing Web-based projects. Generally, when doing Web-based research, it is helpful to put students in groups of three. This way, students can help each other if problems or questions arise. It is often beneficial to bookmark sites for students ahead of time.

    Submit a Comment: We invite your comments and suggestions based on how you used the lesson in your classroom.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students