Beginning last fall, the kiddos and I decided to learn more about God’s amazing creation by studying various animals. We honestly have no set agenda or plan for where our studies will take us. It all begins with a visit to the library. We simply choose a region to study, check out various books about the animals who live there, and then let those books spark an interest in additional topics about the region.
This month, we’ve been exploring the Arctic. And we’ve enjoyed our journey so much that I thought I’d share a little about it…just in case anyone else has an inkling to discover the magnificent wonder of God’s amazing world…but also as a journal for myself, so that my son can enjoy the same journey with me in a few years, if we so choose.
As a side note, the activities listed here are not necessarily things we’ve accomplished all within one week…so don’t begin wondering how in the world we found the time to fit it all in! They are things we’ve done this month as our schedule allowed and simply when we felt like it. This weekly breakout is merely to organize like topics into a weekly post.
Week 1: Polar Bears
Books on Polar Bears:
We are incredibly blessed to have a fabulous library system in our county, so we took full advantage of it, and found some incredible resources. These were some of our favorites:
Polar Bear Cubs by Ruth Owen and Polar Bears by Emily Rose Townsend are perfect for beginning readers.
And these books made wonderful read-alouds.
I was amazed at how we continued to learn new facts with each book that we read.
Polar Bears by Valerie Bodden
Polar Bears by Gail Gibbons
Where Do Polar Bears Live? By Sarah L. Thomson
Polar Bearsby Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
Polar Bears by Ann Squire
A Polar Bear’s Journey by Debbie S. Miller
Caroline Arnold’s A Polar Bear
Ice Bear is a beautiful book with a fantastic audio CD. The book and CD are both comprised of two different readings: one that is a reading of the story itself, and another that goes through the book to provide more information and facts about polar bears.
I saved the best for last. My girls were absolutely captivated by the story of Knut, the adorable polar bear cub who was raised by a Berlin zookeeper after his mother was unable to care for him.
- The book highlights Knut’s journey from his incubator to his sleeping box, to learning to eat from a bowl, to learning to play and swim. It also provides a little bit more information about polar bears, their biggest threats, and what you can do to help.
- The video, Knut and Friends, is a beautiful story told from the wind’s point of view as it travels between 1) Berlin – where Knut is being cared for at the zoo, 2) the Arctic – where triplet polar bears are born under harsh conditions, and 3) Belarus – where twin orphaned brown bears reside in the forest. The three stories of early life and survival are beautifully interwoven. We read Knut’s book prior to watching the movie, so it was fun to then see Knut grow-up before our very eyes. In fact, when the movie was over, my girls were extremely disappointed and wanted the bears’ stories to continue! My oldest even asked me to contact the makers of the movie and tell them to make another!
As a follow-up to the movie, we folded a piece of paper in half and the girls created a different environment on each half. On one half, they used white paint and glittered crystals (which were really cake decorating sprinkles) to represent the icy arctic where the polar bears were born. On the other half, they used a variety of colors to create the forest where they brown bears resided. Then, we cut out a polar bear and a brown bear to place in their respective habitats. But, before we glued them in place, we took a moment to switch them…placing each in the other’s habitat:
The visual made it easy to see why the color of the bears’ fur was important and demonstrated the significance of natural camouflage.
In our readings, we learned that polar bears have 3-4 inches of fat or blubber which helps keep them warm in arctic waters. If you do a search for “Blubber Experiment”, you’ll find numerous resources and explanations on how to conduct it. I used the resource found here since it took into account the control group by placing both hands into the cold water simultaneously, each covered with 2 plastic bags (1 hand with shortening, and 1 without). There is also a great scientific recording sheet for this experiment found here.
Learning with Snow:
We were fortunate to get one of our only 2 dustings of snow this winter during our arctic studies, so…inspired by Melissa at The Chocolate Muffin Tree, we made our own snow, and observed the differences between real and homemade snow.
Then, we gathered a tray of real snow and used wooden skewers to practice writing words from my kindergartner’s spelling list.
Polar Bear Art:
I’ve had That Artist Woman’s beautiful Polar Bear Paintings on my project list since last spring, and they turned out to be the perfect addition to our study!I particularly liked how one of my girls decided to have the baby bears take the lead, while the other positioned them so that they were following their mama. Reveals so much about their precious personalities ; )
And you may remember our stART project with the book Panda and Polar Bear.
I came across the perfect snack to go along with our polar bear studies over at Snacks and Stories. Adorable and delicious! Not surprisingly, it’s been requested a few more times since we first enjoyed it ; )
As with each of the animals we’ve studied thus far, I made the girls a page to complete for their animal books. The top is simply a clip art picture of the animal, next to an empty box where they can use their artistic skills to draw their own. Underneath that, it simply says, “God made Polar Bears amazing because…”, and leaves room for the girls to write 3 amazing facts that they’ve learned.
These pages are actually my favorite activity that we do. It’s fun to see what stands out as “amazing” in my girls’ eyes and to recognize God’s immense artistry in the beauty of His creation.
Our study of Polar Bears was extremely fun. But, we’re not about to leave the arctic yet. There’s still a lot more left to discover. I’ll be back to share more of our journey next week!