Intro to Polar Habitats
This learning block represents one week’s work. Aim to watch at least one video and choose at least one activity or project to complete.
There are several videos to choose from about polar habitats. Feel free to watch as many as you like!
Now choose an Activity
Polar Bear Camouflage Game
Why are so many Arctic animals white? For many Arctic creatures, being white for some or all of the year helps them CAMOUFLAGE in the snowy landscape. Polar bears are white all year round! In this activity, you will play a polar bear camouflaging game!
Imagine that, instead of living in ice and snow, there was a polar bear living in your house! What colours would it need to be to hide from its prey?
You will need:
– several copies of this page printed out from the Ocean First Institute
– crayons or coloured pencils
– someone to play with!
– masking tape
Which of your camouflaged bears was the best hidden? Was it hard to match your polar bear colour to its surroundings?
Take a photo of your camouflaged polar bears around the house to save in your portfolio!
Make An Antarctica Poster
For this project, you will create a poster of Antarctica and its animals!
Step 1: Check out National Geographic’s Map of Antarctica here. Zoom in, scroll around, and see what you can spot on the map. Can you find any mountains? What about the South Pole?
Step 2: Print out the map. Cut it out and paste it to a piece of poster paper. Write ‘ANTARCTICA’ across the top of your paper in large letters.
Step 3: Print out these Antarctic animals from First Palette to colour, cut, and paste onto your poster. Or if you prefer, feel free to draw your own! Just remember: There are no polar bears in Antarctica!
Step 4: Watch the video below about Antarctica’s wildlife. You may want to add a few facts to your poster, or record a video about what you learned.
Ways to KEep Warm Project
For polar animals, keeping warm is a matter of life and death! They have evolved different strategies for surviving in the harsh cold. The video above will show you three of these heat-saving stategies: BLUBBER, FUR, and FRIENDS.
In this project, you will try to make your own version of these three ways to keep warm.
STRATEGY 1: BLUBBER
Blubber is the thick layer of fat that animals like walruses use to stay warm in frigid temperatures. Watch the video below to see how you can make your own version of blubber at home!
You will need:
– 2 large bowls
– vegetable shortening
– 2 large ziploc bags
What did you notice? Did the blubber make a difference to how warm your hand felt? Record your observations in your Science Notebook!
STRATEGY 2: FUR
Polar bears and some other polar animals has special fur that helps them stay warm. The inner layer of fur traps warm air and keeps it close to the skin while the outer layer of fur protects the animal’s skin from getting wet and being exposed to wind.
In this experiment, you will test how well different materials keep heat in!
You will need:
– 4 jars with lid
– warm water
– different insulating materials: a scarf, a piece of fur, a pile of leaves… or whatever you can find!
Watch the video below for directions. Make sure you write down the STARTING temperatures for your water. Which material do you think will be the best insulator (keep the most heat in)?
After 15 minutes, remember to write down your FINISHING temperatures for each jar of water.
Which jar cooled down the most? Which jar stayed warmest? What does this tell you about your insulating materials?
Record your observations in your Science Notebook!
STRATEGY 3: HUDDLING
Emperor penguins have a brilliant strategy to beat the freezing Antarctic temperatures: they huddle together into a gigantic group! Watch the video below to learn more about how penguins huddle for warmth AND to see a demo of how the science of huddling works!
Now it’s your turn to make a huddle! Choose one of the activity options below to experience the science of huddling for warmth, or do both if you like!
1. Do you have family or friends nearby? Make a mini-huddle by squishing yourselves closely together! Close your eyes and see if you can feel the the effect of your combined body heat building up!
2. Try to make your own version of the hot chocolate demonstration you watched in the video above. Fill one cup with warm water (or hot chocolate) and use a thermometer to measure the temperature. After 5 minutes, measure the temperature again. How much did the liquid cool?
Next, fill a cluster of 6-8 cups with warm water and take the temperature of the cup in the middle. After 5 minutes, measure the temperature again. How much did the liquid cool this time?
Did these activities help you understand how penguin huddles work? Did they go as you expected? What do you have questions about?
Record your observations and questions in your Science Notebook!
OUR PLANET: Frozen Worlds Documentary
This documentary discusses polar habitats, the species who inhabit them, and threats to their continued health and survival. As you watch, think about the questions below. You will choose ONE and write your response in a paragraph or record it in a video. You may need to go back and rewatch the video more than once. Jot down some notes as you listen; this will help you when writing/planning your final piece.
1. Think of one polar species that particularly surprised or intrigued you from the video. Explain what you learned about it in as much detail as you remember, in your own words.
2. Consider human impacts on polar habitats. Using what you learned in the video, think about how changes to polar habitats may impact the species that call them home. How does this make you feel? Is there any action you would like to take in response? Make a plan for one thing you can do.
3. Wildlife are not the only ones who live in and depend on polar habitats for survival. Humans have inhabited the Arctic for thousands of years, yet their stories are not told as often as we hear about animals like polar bears. Think about the ways that climate change might impact people who live in the far North. Will their food supplies be disrupted as animal populations change? Will hunters have more difficulty making a living?
When you are finished, be sure to add your piece to your portfolio!
Books About Polar habitats
Click on a book to buy it from Amazon. Or, you can ask for them at your local library.