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Travel to the Polar Lands
Grade Level(s): 1-2
By: Lisa Slaughter, 2nd Grade Teacher

Activity ideas for researching polar animals and studying the polar lands of the Arctic and Antarctic.


I begin this unit upon our return from the Christmas break. Each student is given an "Expedition Ticket" to travel through the Polar Regions- the Arctic and the Antarctic.

Activities that correspond with the objectives are outlined on the ticket. As each activity is completed, a hole punch is given on the ticket.

There are several activities (i.e.. discussing the tilt of the earth and using globes and flashlights to discover the reason the polar regions are cold, using resources books to find the answers to a "scavenger hunt" type game--is it in the arctic or the Antarctic, or neither or both?, animal adaptations--blubber and fur experiments,...I include several different activities/experiments).

One of the most interesting and FUN is drawing the polar animals to scale.


During our research, we usually brainstorm a list of a dozen polar animals. Depending on the size, I assign a group of two or more students to find the size of an animal and they work together to draw the animal to scale. They also must color it accordingly.

I love this activity for its math (measuring), research, art (drawing, coloring, perspective/proportion), science (animal research), and cooperative learning and working.

After animals are completed, we post them in the hall for all to see. What a reaction! Especially about the Emperor Penguin who can reach 50"! We teachers get a chuckle at the disproportion of some of the bigger animals...for example-you should have seen a caribou from two years ago!! He had quite a backside and a teeny head with huge antlers!

Some of the animals have included: polar bear, caribou, walrus, narwhale, ptarmigan, arctic tern, arctic seal, lemming, blue penguin, and Emperor Penguin to name a few.


This complete unit uses literature, math, science, social studies, geography, etc... it is quite integrated! It is one of my favorites! The students seem to enjoy it as well. It is a fun way to kick off the winter and the 3rd quarter. We are able to utilize the cold and snowy weather for science concepts. If anyone is interested in other activities, they may contact me... wupyg@tcac.netCopyright 1999 by Lisa Slaughter. All Rights Reserved.


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