Black Bear Curriculum

Understanding Black Bears is a downloadable computer program that was designed with direction from educators so the activities would be easy, yet effective for teachers, while being fun for students. With 11 major topics containing an array of 29 interactive lesson activities, you’ll find a variety of options to match the learning objectives in your classroom with engaging, inquiry-based learning. Below is a preview of the educational content and Grade levels of the various activities. That’s where you’ll also find any additions, updates or corrections to the content. Just look for any Red Font that notes new or revised material.

Simply click on the “Download the Bear Education Program here!” image to the right to begin downloading the program. To find out more or to get the Teacher’s Quickstart Overview, check out the K-8 Curriculum overview link. The image below is one of the easy to follow navigation menus in the Teacher’s Section of the program.

teacher screen

Domestic or Wild?

  • Comparing Animals – Grades K-3 Using a slide show, interactive computer quiz, animal card game, and other materials, students learn about different characteristics of domestic and wild animals.
  • Man’s Best Friend – Grades 4-8 Using a slide show, animal cards, and diagrams, students analyze the relationships between humans and wildlife through the creation of posters and analysis of a fictional children’s book.

Fact or Feelings?

  • Biophila and Biophobia – Grades K-6 Using charts, journals, and other materials, students create wildlife collages illustrating their feelings toward wildlife.
  • Bear Knowledge and Perceptions – Grades 4-8 Students view a bear impressions slide show from the CD, then articulate and reflect on their knowledge, beliefs, and feelings toward bears by completing a questionnaire and KFWL chart. They continue to identify and address their conceptions and misconceptions by assembling a portfolio.

Compare Bears

  • Fact or Fiction? – Grades K-2 Using a video, charts, and journals, students compare and contrast the characteristics and needs of real and fictional bears.
  • Measuring Bears – Grades K-6 Using bear video, bear silhouette grids, and diagrams, students identify, compare, and contrast the physical appearance of black bears, grizzly bears, and polar bears. They also analyze the relationship between structure and function then make inferences about the importance of adaptations to bears survival.
  • How to Hide a Bear – Grades 2-6 Using video, slide shows, charts and other materials, students identify and describe examples of animal adaptations. They then assess the significance of adaptations to an animal’s survival. Students also analyze the relationship between habitat characteristics and animal adaptations. They begin to identify bears by their physical characteristics.
  • Yukon Delta Guide School – Grades 4-8 Using video, charts, and other materials, students participate in a Webquest where they gather, interpret, and present information on the characteristics and habitats of the three North American bear species – acting as wilderness guides in training during a kayak expedition at the Yukon Delta Guide School. *Noted Correction please click below on and use the YukonGuide.Fixed” Teacher’s Key within this Lesson Guide for this activity. YukonGuide.Fixed

Finding Bear Country

  • The Power of Maps – Grades 1-6 Using various maps, students identify and describe two different kinds of maps. They understand how to use maps and develop a spatial perspective while beginning to understand how human actions modify the physical environment.
  • Where’s the Bear? Grades 4-6 (variation for grades 2-3) In this session, students watch video, study North American and state bear range maps, to determine how far they live from each species of bear. They then investigate the relationship between landscape features and bear populations.

Black Bear History

  • Story of Black Bears – Grades 2-6 In this activity students use books, journals and other materials to create and present a story modeled after “Native American” legends.
  • Shaping the Land – Grades 5-8 Using video, maps, Rubrics, and other materials, students describe the ways humans interact with the physical environment. They also describe cultural and environmental factors that influence wildlife populations. They make inferences about future landscape changes and wildlife populations.

Home Sweet Home

  • Investigating Habitats – Grades 4-8 Using video, worksheets and other materials, students define key ecological terms, then use scientific tools and procedures to evaluate the environment. They share data with other members of their classroom and scientific community. Students compare and contrast two survey methods then evaluate the suitability of an area as black bear habitat.
  • Bear Beds – Grades 5-8 Using maps and scientific data, students describe one tool used by scientists to manage black bears. They discuss and interpret scientific data, then collaboratively develop a hypothesis. They propose explanations for den site selection and identify and compare the survival advantages of different den sites. Students predict the effects of land use decisions on bear den availability and use.

The Three Bears

  • Goldilocks and The 3 Bears – Grades 2-8 Using videos, books and worksheets, students find facts about one animal. They research and present concepts through drama, poetry, newscast or storytelling. Students compare and contrast different animal families and analyze the survival advantages of different family structures. They differentiate between fact and fantasy in electronic media and identify possible media influences on human perceptions of wildlife.
  • How do you Bear Up? Grades 3-6 Using video, charts, grids and diagrams, students compare and contrast the growth, development, and life cycles of humans and black bears. They also predict the survival value of black bear growth and development adaptations.

Bear Biology

  • Being a Bear – Grades K-3 Using videos, audio, charts and other materials, students experience the effects of sensory isolation on their observations of the natural world, then apply this knowledge to simulate a bear’s perception of its environment.
  • How Beasts Feast – Grades 3-6 In this activity, students use video, charts and the Internet to research, compare, and contrast the skulls and digestive tract adaptations of herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.
  • Bears Inside and Out – Grades 4-8 Using bear biology slides, images and charts, students use observations and research to develop hypotheses to answer questions about the different structural adaptations of animals.
  • What Do They See? – Grades 5-8 In this activity, students use video, Rubrics, and other materials to design an experiment to test a black bear’s distance vision.

Bearing the Winter

  • First We Eat – Grades K-6 In this activity, students play a computer game as an introduction to one of the wintertime survival adaptations of black bears foraging in 8 different environments while competing with other species.
  • Hibernation Stations – Grades K-8 In this activity, students design a hibernation investigation through an inquiry-based learning approach (Option A). Or, they circulate through 8 hibernation activity stations (Option B) as they learn about the physical adaptations that help black bears survive hibernation.

Bear Essentials

  • Animal Adaptations – Grades 2-6 Using video and charts, students observe and describe different animal foraging and feeding adaptations. They identify three foraging and/or feeding adaptations in black bears.
  • Hungry Tummy Café – Grades 3-8 Students use video, charts and data to compile a list of black bear food sources then design a menu for the Hungry Tummy Café.
  • Biologists At Work – Grades 5-8 Using maps and scientific research data, students work in teams to analyze and report on one or more research studies examining the kinds of foods consumed by the American black bear.

Bear Behavior

  • What Bears Do – Grades K-8 In this activity, students use video, pictures, charts, templates and other materials to observe and interpret black bear behaviors. They identify preconceptions about black bear behavior then propose explanations based on observations while recognizing alternate explanations of black bear behavior.
  • Interpreting Behaviors – Grades 5-8 Using slide shows, videos, ethograms and other materials, students create an ethogram of a videotaped black bear, and share their research with their peers.
  • Tracking A Bear – Grades 5-8 Using maps and actual bear sighting logs, students track the movements of a black bear and compose a story from the bear’s point of view describing its travels.
  • How Many Bears? Grades 5-8 Using scientific tables and maps, students calculate black bear population changes over time, and collaborate with other students to predict future areas of population change.

Extensive Books and Website Resources linked in all topics.

Contributing Credits

Curriculum Development and Writing – Cynthia J. Bertalan

CD Design and Navigation – Dan Bertalan – Great Outdoors Multimedia Productions

CD & Interactive Authoring – Robert Kunc

Editorial – Beth Mittermaier, Jaime Jelenchick

Portions of this curriculum were reviewed by: Pam Uhlein, Educator, Mohonk Preserve, New Paltz, NY Carol Faville, Teacher & Envirothon Advisor, Poland Central School, Poland, NY Mike Brisco, Teacher, Kilpatrick Elementary School, Texarkana, AR Anita Brisco, Teacher, Kilpatrick Elementary School, Texarkana, AR Kerry Marflak, Teacher, Wayland-Cohocton Central School, Wayland, NY Zoe Smith, Community Coordinator, Wildlife Conservation Society, Saranac Lake, NY Andrea Lorek Strauss, National Education Director, International Wolf Center, Ely, MN Laura Carey, Project WILD Coordinator, Rogers Environmental Education Center, Sherburne, NY Liz Jackson, Project WILD Coordinator, New Jersey DEP Division of Fish & Wildlife, Oxford, NJ Science Education Master’s Degree candidates (2005, 2007), University of Wisconsin-Madison Workshop participants, Developing Multi-State, Multimedia Wildlife Education Programs for Today’s Computer Classrooms, North American Association for Environmental Education Conference (2006)

Special Thanks to these scientists:

Kelcey Burguess, Bear Biologist, New Jersey DEP Division of Fish & Wildlife
Ricky Eastridge, Senior Bear Specialist, Arkansas Department of Natural Resources
Greg Fuerst, Bear Specialist, New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Bill Ishmael, Wildlife Biologist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Rebecca Jordan, Assistant Professor, Cook College, Rutgers University Jocelyn Cottrell, Chris Hogan, Nieraj Jain, Bartosz Nogal & Michael McWay, Modeling Heat Flows in a Hibernating Black Bear. Cheryl Heidelberger, Kelcey Burguess, Patrick Carr and Jane E. Huffman, Food Habits of New Jersey Black Bears. R.H. Jordan & G.M. Burghardt. Employing an Ethogram to Detect Reactivity of Black Bears (Ursus Americanus) to the Presence of Humans. Aaron N. Moen & Lynn Rogers,Radiant Surface Temperatures and Hair Depths of a Black Bear.

Multimedia Editing and Production – Dan Bertalan – Great Outdoors Multimedia Productions

Graphics and 3-D Production – Jon Lemerond – Lightning Rod Graphics

Scripted by: Dan Bertalan, Pat Knighten, Rick Eastridge, Brian Bachman, Cynthia J. Bertalan, Richard P. Smith

Videographers: Dan Bertalan, Brian Bachman, Roger Barrette, Jim Sheldon, Richard P. Smith, Arkansas Game and Fish, Dennis Cecil

Narration – Suzanne Rutishauser

Special Thanks in Development; Pat Knighten – Arkansas Game & Fish, Rick Eastridge – Arkansas Game & Fish, Brian Bachman – North American Bear Foundation