Friday, January 11, 2019

Arctic Animal Fun: Polar Bear Lesson

Arctic Animal Fun

A month-long unit of preschool ideas 
for different Arctic animals

As I have mentioned in my Littles Learning Link Up posts, I am teaching the Pre-K class at our homeschool co-op. This is a new class of 3, 4, and 5 year olds, which is different than the nursery class I used to teach where we had babies up through 4 year olds who hadn't gone up to the K-3 group yet. Back in October I did a Pumpkin lesson which included reading books, songs, motion rhymes, and crafts. For the month of January I decided to focus on something cold. In the past I have done snowmen and penguin activities, so I decided to focus on the Arctic this time around. 

Each week there will be books I recommend to go with each topic, a craft or two, songs, motion rhymes/finger plays, and a fun game to play. 

This is the tentative schedule:

Week 1: Polar Bears
Week 2: Arctic Fox
Week 3: Walrus
Week 4: Narwhal
Week 5: Orca or Beluga Whale

We start each class with the song "Good Morning to You" as I used to do at the Montessori. Just a song to get us focused on our day. Then I found some snowy songs/fingerplays in a book I reviewed last year called I'm a Little Teapot!: Presenting Preschool Storytime compiled by Jane Cobb. 

We sang: 

Snowflakes
(to the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb)

Snowflakes whirling all around,

all around, all around

Snowflakes whirling all around,


They are covering the ground.

(The original last line was, "Until they cover all the ground," but it didn't sound quite right to me, so I changed it. We fluttered our fingers all around through the song and spread our arms out for the last line.)

We also did the following finger play:

The Snow Fell Softly

The snow fell softly all the night
flutter fingers downward

It made a blanket soft and white
spread arms out

It covered houses, flowers and ground,
make pointed house, finger flowers, flat hands

But never made a single sound

get quieter and put finger in front of mouth

Then we got into the actual lesson.
Polar Bear Lesson



We started by finding the Arctic and the Antarctic on a globe. Then we looked through a book that names and gives information about a hand full of arctic animals. I only focused on the details for the polar bear though. 


Then I read a book about a polar bear cub:


In this cute book, the baby polar bear's whole world is the den where she is snug and warm with her mother, until they head outside for the first time and she goes exploring. She rolls away down a hill and loses sight of her mom for a little bit. Cub looks for her mom by looking for her black nose, which leads her to find other creatures. Then her mom finds her amid the white snow.

Craft

We then made our Cotton Ball Polar Bears in an Icy Arctic World that I highlighted in this week's Littles Learning Link Up. This was a craft that was included in my Arctic Fun Round Up at the beginning of the month.




Science Lesson

We discussed the different physical features that keep a polar bear warm in the icy arctic:

the layers of hair
the black skin
and
the thick layer of fat

The children got to experience feeling ice water, both with their bare hand and through a layer of fat. 



This activity was suggested in the back of another Arctic book we read:


The children helped me fill a plastic zippy bag with shortening. Then I sealed it and placed it inside another bag. The children each took a turn placing their hand in the space between the filled bag and the outer bag. Then I gently placed their hand in the water. 

Songs

I came up with this song to help reinforce the science lesson.

Did You Ever See a Polar Bear?

(to the tune of Did You Ever See a Lassie?)


Did you ever see a polar bear,

a polar bear, a polar bear

Did you ever see a polar bear

with thick shaggy fur?

With thick shaggy white fur

with thick shaggy white fur

Did you ever see a polar bear

with thick shaggy fur?


Did you ever see a polar bear,

a polar bear, a polar bear

Did you ever see a polar bear

who couldn’t keep warm?

He keeps nice and warm

He keeps nice and warm

Did you ever see a polar bear

who couldn’t keep warm?


Did you even know the polar bear

the polar bear, the polar bear

Did you even know the polar bear

Has a layer of fat?

A thick layer of fat

A thick layer of fat

Did you even know the polar bear

Has a layer of fat?

Then we sang a different version to get them up and moving:

Did You Ever See a Polar Bear?

Did you ever see a polar bear

a polar bear, a polar bear

Did you ever see a polar bear

Sliding on the ice?

Sliding this way and that way

Sliding this way and that way

Did you ever see a polar bear

sliding on the ice?


Motions to go with song.
Shrug shoulders with hands raised as in questioning for the first three lines.
Then step and slide left and right a few times.
Go back to shrugging for the last line.



Game

And to keep them moving, we played Musical Paw Prints. 

I printed out polar bear paw prints and had them walk around on them to music. Then we played a game similar to Musical Chairs where I stopped the music and removed a print each time. The child who didn't get on a paw print had to sit at the table.



We finished up by reading the Over in the Arctic: Where the Cold Winds Blow book by Marianne Berkes and a couple of polar bear cub books.


This book introduces children to ten arctic animals with rhyming verse just like the Over in the Meadow song. Each mom or dad animal is introduced with their babies, each animal having one more baby than the last. We also see how each animal moves or "speaks." And for additional fun there are extra animals hidden on each page.


Polar Bear Night by Lauren Thompson is another book about a polar bear cub. This cub ventures out on its own in the middle of the night to see the special lights. While out, she comes across other arctic animals.


In The Snow Bear by Miriam Moss, we see another polar bear cub. This one has lost her mom and starts to create a snow replacement. Different arctic animals come to help until they are called home. Then the little bear is alone with her snow bear until her mom appears while she is sleeping.

We ended our class time with the following finger play, also from the book I'm a Little Teapot!: Presenting Preschool Storytime compiled by Jane Cobb.

Dressing for Winter Weather


Let’s put on our mittens
put on mittens

And button up our coat
button coat

Wrap a scarf snugly
throw scarf around neck

Around our throat.
Tug one end down

Pull on our boots now
pull on boots with both hands

Fasten the straps
fasten with fingers

And tie on tightly
Our warm winter caps
pull on cap and tie

Then open the door
turn doorknob and pull

And out we go
step through pretend door

Into the soft and feathery snow
look up and pretend to catch snow

Stop by next week for the Arctic Fox lesson.

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