An Arctic Animal Unit: Animals of the Polar Region

By Willa

This lesson on Arctic Animals, introduces a series of lessons focusing on many of the animals living in the polar region. The stories and hands-on activities will provide excitement and curiosity for the children as they learn.

Animals of the North Pole

Circle Time: Begin this time with a discussion about the different animals living in the polar region and prepare the children to compare the differences in their ears, tails, noses, and toes, to the animals that live in the warmer climates. Build upon their listening skills by reading the book, Amazing Arctic Animals, by Jackie Glassman. As you introduce the animals, provide opportunities for the children to repeat the names.

Discuss how each animal is created in a unique way to enable them to adapt to the harsh winters, such as the thick coat of fur or extra layer of fat, which keeps them warm. Show pictures of the hairy musk ox, lemming, snow shoe rabbit and puffins. Open discussions about more familiar animals such as the polar bear, arctic fox, wolf, seal, caribou, walrus, snowy owl, moose and reindeer. Cover the details thoroughly, to sharpen the children's listening skills.

On the globe or map, show the class the area of the polar region where these animals live.

Arctic Animals Have Shorter Ears, Noses, Tails and Toes

This activity will build upon your students listening and observation skills.

The class will observe a demonstration, originating from Alaska Project WILD Coordinator, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, to help them understand the ways the animals are especially created to adapt in this cold arctic land.

For the experiment, you will need these items:

  • A pair of latex gloves
  • Rubber bands
  • Thermometer
  • Two containers

Ask the question, "Which will keep you warmer, a glove or a mitten?"

Secure a rubber band on each finger of only one glove, which will represent a mitten. Pour warm water in both gloves and record the temperature of each. Put it aside for 30 minutes, then compare the temperature of the glove to the "mitten". Which one kept the water warmer?

The children should observe that the ears, noses, tails and toes are shorter in the arctic animals to help them stay warmer.

Math Survey: Favorite Arctic Animal

Create a bar graph on the chalkboard to show the results of a survey taken on the children's favorite animals. This provides another opportunity to discuss and recap today's lesson. Discuss and compare using the mathematical terms total, most and least.

Suggested Reading

Amazing Arctic Animals, by Jackie Glassman

Tundra Discoveries, by Ginger Wadsworth

Arctic Tundra, by Donald M. Silver

Arctic Tundra Habitats, by Michael H. Forman

More articles in this artic animal unit follow (see below).