Education is not only learning academic concepts but also teaching children about nature and man’s impact in the world surrounding them. Areas crucial to earth’s survival yet threatened directly by climate change are the Polar Regions. It would then be quite beneficial if youngsters knew about and learnt to respect these areas.
Animals of the Polar Regions (Arctic & Antarctic)
Class: Upper Elementary Students
Goal: The ultimate goal is to learn how the animals of these regions live and how their lives are endangered by global warming. Apart from the basic facts necessary to know about those animals, it would peak interest to discuss with the class the intriguing adaptations made by the animals of these regions which help them survive. For instance, the male Emperor penguins which keep the eggs below their belly and huddle together in a giant circle, alternating positions during the rough weather to protect the incubation of the eggs as well as each other. Once this is discussed a documentary may be shown.
Your job as a teacher will be to separate the animals of each region and discuss the surprising facts which students may not be aware of. Once this is done you many play a video which summarizes this and allow students to take it in. Finally, ask questions referring back to what had been discussed and shown making certain the children understood, learnt and therefore, stored the information.
Written feedback: Once the film is complete, it would be nice to practice writing. It may be about research stations or the animals and a day in their lives.
Ask students to put themselves in the place of an animal and describe a day in the life of that animal in a few lines.
e.g.: Emperor Penguin-“Today is one of the worst days so far. The wind is blowing so hard, I can hardly see the penguin in front of me. I’m afraid my feet will freeze and I’ll lose by egg. Just a few more weeks till our females get back and I don’t know if I’ll be able to last!”
Research Stations: Furthermore, there are research stations in the Antarctic. An idea would be for the students to write a few sentences about what they think it is like for a person working in one of those stations. How would a human being cope in such harsh environments?
Project: 1) A homework project could be to research and write about a particular animal that they like from the area or they may want to write about the area itself.
2) Still another idea is for a student to pretend to be a an entrepreneur in the Antarctic. More specifically, a person who wants to open up a hotel for tourists who want to tour the area or study the animals. The point would be to first list the pros (for) and cons (against) and then write out a report to this fact and the student’s own conclusion.
It is essential that students be informed of the significant role that the Poles play on the planet. Once this is discussed extensively as a class, the teacher may have a class
1) Make drawings of what the students believe life would be like without the ice capped poles
2) Write poems about saving the poles and the animals which live there
3) Decorate the class door with students’ art work on the subject during the period you will be covering this topic
Whatever you decide to do, make certain you like it first. If you are enthusiastic about what you are about to do with your class then they will be too. The Polar Regions are truly as exciting as they are mysterious. Learning about them will make the children more appreciative of their world and when done in a fun way, they will cherish the information throughout their lives.