Did you grab a copy of my Polar Passport last week? If you did, you’re all set to go! This week we spent learning about Arctic Animals and you’ll find some teaching resources below while focusing on your own children!
We decided to lap book this unit, so we put both world maps and polar maps on the front, with “fact file” pockets on the inside. My kindergartener cut sealed envelopes in half, affixed polar stickers, and wrote the names of the arctic animals on the outside. Next, we taped the pockets in pairs at the bottom, so they flip down (and all 8 are able to fit in one file). Inside each “fact file” the girls included pictures the new facts they learned, online pictures, words, and maps of each of the animals living areas. (Note: We found lots of maps at ecokids.ca, where we entered as a “”kid” and searched for the animal we were learning about). We also included copies of the digital pictures of projects they made throughout the unit. (The pictures of the lap book are as they are today, we still have several weeks of Polar learning ahead, so I’ll update them in future posts.)
We love the Magic School Bus series, so the YouTube video was a great springboard into the lesson earlier this week. It was a great reminder of the blubber science experiment we did during our hibernation unit. It was great for the kids to realize that polar animals also use blubber to stay warm in the icy weather and water!
The video created a second springboard of the kids wanting to create their own “Magic School Car” that would take them into the polar regions. The car comes equipped with a door, headlights, wheels, and plenty of seating for all of their friends to tag along (although I have been told, they are not done with their creation!). I’m sure it will be worked on for several more days.
Using a variety of arctic animals from the dollar store and toys around the house, I created a sensory tub to introduce many of the animals and objects we’ll be discussing. To do this, you can use a dishpan, lots of cotton balls for snow, rice, a small shovel or scooper, lots of animals, and I threw in all the ice cubes from the Don’t Break the Ice Game. The activity didn’t stay in the tub long. Rather, the animals ended up in the doll house and bathtub, but the animals were an instant draw. While they were in the tub, it gave us a chance to talk about camouflage. It was so much harder to find the white colored animals in the cotton balls, just as it is with many polar animals in the snow. In fact, challenge your children to find all the animals in 10 seconds and you may find that the white animals are the ones that are left behind before time expires!
Animals of the Arctic
Did you know that the wolverine has back teeth rotated 90 degrees to chomp it’s food…or that it can spray a scent similar to a skunk? We read several articles about wolverines and learned that even though they look like bears in many ways, they are actually the largest species of the weasel family. My kids were focused on the nickname “Skunk Bear,” so we grabbed a bottle of air freshener (too bad I didn’t have anything stinky) and did a quick experiment with gasses. We first talked about how the wolverine uses it’s scent to scare off predators and that led into a discussion about how the air is made of particles that move. From across the room, I sprayed the air freshener and had my daughters tell me when they could smell it. After a bit of a pause, they excitedly told me they could smell it. The connection was made: Wolverines warn others to stay away from them with their smell…a smell that animals can be made aware of from a distance.
In addition, the girls each had their turn coloring a wolverine online, which was filed into the fact file, along with pictures we had drawn of the interesting facts we learned.
Narwhal whales have always been a favorite of mine, so I was glad to find this book at the library last week. It has great facts for the kindergarten level including a life cycle diagram, which we were able to compare to our worm life cycles, and lots of great photos. Among other things, we learned that Narwhal do not live near Alaska, but in other parts of the Arctic, the tusks are only grown by the males, and killer whales are one of their predators. There’s also a great photo inside of the Narwhal lined up at the edge of the ice during the summer. We learned that whales are mammals and nurse their young, which was interesting to my kids because they live under water. Not only that, but the Narwhal sometimes float belly-up, so it looks like they are dead, which is how it has the nickname “corpse whale.” Got to introduce some new vocabulary there!
You might have noticed in the “Magic School Car” above the porthole. Well, of course, our car can go under water, so we made a porthole to look at all the Narwhal (all of which happen to be male and a little more colorful than they are in real life, with a few tropical fish stickers thrown in, so they didn’t starve!). We placed our colored Narwhal and fish on the inside of a blue paper plate and cut a circle in a second plate. I punched holes around the two plates together, and the girls laced them up. It happened to fit perfectly in a hole they had already cut into their car.
Polar bears are HUGE and are ruthless animals that will eat anything form walrus to Killer Whales. We enjoyed several polar bear books, as well as several YouTube snippets showing polar bears coming out of their den and trucking across the snow. Just to get an idea of how what keen hunters polar bears are, we tried several experiments with senses: sight, smell, and hearing. For sight, I hid several types of prey (stuffed animals) in the dark and closed the windows and turned out the light. The girls used a flashlight to “hone-in” on their prey as quickly as they could. For the sense of smell, I placed several vegetables in plastic sandwich bags, put a blindfold over their eyes and they had to guess the food. And, for the sense of smell, we used shakers created out of prescription bottles and different objects to see if the girls could guess the contents. From this, the girls were able to create a better understanding of the senses the Polar Bear uses while hunting. Feel free to check out some other experiments we’ve done with the 5 Senses.
We finished up Polar Bears with an art project using cotton balls (from our sensory tub) to paint Polar Bear faces and talked a little about it was pointillism on a much larger scale. Boy, was it hard not to paint with the cotton ball!! The basics for this project: a traced paper plate for the head and half circles for ears, cotton balls stamping the paint, two googly eyes and a construction paper nose, followed by a game of Don’t Break the Ice.
Walruses are huge too! Did you know the babies alone weight 100 pounds?? They are whiskery guys and gals, but they are actually a very caring species. Walruses travel in herds for protection from those Polar Bears above! Aside from book, National Geographic for Kids is a great resource. Our fact files included a diagram of their body, a picture of a Mama and baby, a map, and a picture of a sunshine. The sunshine represents how walruses sun themselves. When they do this, the blood of a Walrus rises to its skin, making them a pinkish color. We experimented with the girls feeling the warmth underneath a lamp. During the summer it would be a great activity to take a cold bath, then sit in the sun for a few minutes. It’s much too cold for that this time of year!
My girls are obsessed with rocks, so we put together a rock Walrus after reading about how big they are! The girls scouted “just right” rocks and we used the glue-gun to put on eyes, pipe cleaner tusks, and whiskers cut from
…and There’s MORE!
We still have four more arctic animals to explore. Meet me here on Monday to get some ideas for the Arctic Fox, Arctic Hare, Caribou, and Snowy Owl! Then it’s on to the lower region of the world: Antarctica, a week from today!
Don’t forget to check out The Usual Mayhem, Journey 2 Excellence, Childhood Beckons, and Montessori Tidbits who each have posted about Polar Animals this week. We’d love to have you follow along with each of us!
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