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Bears for Teachers

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Bearly Born


Students will identify similar survival needs of black bears and human babies.


  • graph paper and drawing paper
  • OPTIONAL: yardsticks; 36 inch sewing tapes

Age: Grades 4-7

Subjects: Mathematics.

Science Skills:

  • analysis
  • comparing similarities and differences
  • graphing
  • estimation
  • prediction with ratio and averaging (optional)
  • discussion
  • drawing
  • generalization
  • media construction
  • reading
  • writing

Duration: two 30-minute periods

Group Size: any Setting: indoors

Key Vocabulary: similarities, differences, survival needs, omnivore

Baby bear


Students illustrate, compute and graph differences between people and black bears at various stages of maturity.


There are similarities in basic survival needs of black bear cubs and human babies. Both are mammals, born from their mother's body. Although humans sometimes substitute soy or other products for mother's milk, bear cubs and most humans survive solely on mother's milk in the first months of life.

The major purpose of this activity is for students to recognize similarities between bear cubs and human babies as well as to develop mathematics skills. (Additional information about bears).

NOTE: Your students may ask where the male, or father, bears are during the time the young cubs are growing. Male bears may kill cubs, so the mother bear keeps the cubs out of contact with males and will fight to protect them if provoked. Under good conditions, a bear may live as long as 30 or more years.


  1. Begin a discussion with the students about black bears. Ask them to guess how much a cub (baby bear) might weigh when it is born. Every student can write down a guess on a piece of paper. Call for their guesses. Ask for their ideas about how long mother bears are pregnant, what baby bears eat when they are born, how much they might weigh when they are a year old, how many brothers and sisters they might have who are their same age, how much they weigh when they are full grown, and how long they live.
  2. Following the discussion, post this information or provide it as a "hand-out".
    Weight and Age Relationships for the Black Bear
    (Data are characteristic of black bear in the southwestern United States. There will be regional variation.)
  3. Ask the students to "fill in the blanks" with their own weight at the same ages as the information shows for the black bears. They will be required to estimate for years past their present age. Ask the students to:
    1. graph both sets of data
    2. draw a picture of the bear at each age
    3. draw a picture of themselves at each age

    One student's comparative data might look like this: Example Student Graph
Many thanks to Idaho Fish and Game and Project WILD for all of their help in this project. Information for this site developed from "WILD ABOUT BEARS", and is copyrighted by Idaho Department of Fish and Game and Idaho Project WILD. Permission obtained and granted to use this material for educational purposes. Photographic images were provided by the Department of Fish and Game and various other sources.

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