Teaching All About Polar Bears

Do you ever use thematic teaching units in your classroom? Thematic lessons are such a fun way to take a deep dive into a specific subject. During the long winters in the classroom, one of my favorite things to teach about is polar bears! Young students love learning interesting facts about polar bears, so they make for a highly engaging topic of study. Here are a few of my favorite activities for this theme!

Use these fun and engaging activities to teach your students all about polar bears.

The Benefits Of Using A Polar Bear Theme 

Winter can be a very long and dreary time in the classroom. After the sparkle of the holidays has passed, it can be hard to keep your students' attention. Add in those inclement weather days and you're really in for some challenging days in the classroom. When faced with this dilemma, I love to find new and exciting ways to capture student interest. 

Using non-fiction lessons like this polar bear unit are great ways to keep your kids excited about learning. And you can incorporate writing, science, reading, and more into one unit your students will love!

Teaching with fun, non-fiction lesson plans like my Polar Bears Unit is a great way to switch up what you're doing. This resource focuses on teaching students important facts and information about polar bears through non-fiction reading and writing activities. There's also a fun craft included that makes for the perfect way to wrap up the unit. 

I love that focusing on our polar bear unit offers a way to ensure high student engagement in the wintertime, or really any time of year your lessons need some variety! And. . .by connecting science standards with reading and writing standards we are able to dig a little deeper!

Did you know that International Polar Bear Day is February 27?  These activities make for a great day of polar bear fun!

Learning About Polar Bears

One of my favorite ways to introduce our polar bear unit is by streaming the Polar Bear Cam from the San Diego Zoo.  This ALWAYS piques my students' interest and gets them excited about our new topic.

Whenever we begin our studies of polar bears, I always like to start with vocabulary. In my unit, I use vocabulary cards that feature full-color, real pictures of important words students will need to know for this unit. The words we focus on include:
  • mammal 
  • polar bear
  • marine animals
  • cub 
  • floe
  • breathing hole
  • Arctic
  • adaptations 
  • blubber
From vocabulary to fun facts, introducing your students to polar bears will be easy with engaging hands-on activities like these.

These words are key for students to know right when we begin our lessons. I like to introduce these words one by one during our first lesson.  By exposing students to new vocabulary from the beginning, you maximize the opportunities they have to interact with and use these new words. 

I like to read each definition and pass around the vocabulary cards so the kids can take a look at the picture. I recommend laminating your vocabulary cards for durability if you do this. Once everyone has had a look, we add these to our word wall for the duration of our study. 

Using Books To Dive Deeper 

Once we've learned some new vocabulary words, I like to read a few books aloud to the class. Some of my favorites for providing facts about Polar Bears include:
These books are all great since they also include full-color, read pictures for students to observe. We learn about the life cycle of polar bears, their habitats, and what they eat during read-aloud time. After we've read a few books, I like to pause and make an anchor chart with the class, making sure to include a few of their favorite facts about polar bears. 

Books like these are great to add to your non-fiction section of your classroom library as you work through your polar bear unit.

After read-aloud time, we break up into small groups and focus on reading through the non-fiction flip-book readers in our unit. Much of the information has already been discussed in the read-alouds which helps young readers with predicting what's coming next in the text. My Polar Bears Unit includes readers in 3 different reading levels (grades 1-3) to allow for differentiation in our groups. 

Polar Bear Facts Review 

After we've spent time reading in small groups, it's time for a comprehension check-in. In my classroom, we do this by using a question-and-answer sheet that touches on a few key things that the students learned. They are asked to recall where polar bears live, what they eat, and how they are different from other bears. 

Using worksheets like these which include hands-on activities will help your students learn, review, and recall the information they are learning about polar bears.

In addition to this activity, I also like to have students work on a vocabulary page where they will cut and paste words to the correct spot to label a picture. After they have added their words, they can color the Arctic scene. 

Another fun worksheet we use to review life cycle charts that show each stage of the polar bear's life. The students will cut out boxes for each description and glue them down in the correct space. These activities are a great way to review what the students have learned before moving on to our next activity in this unit. 

Polar Bear Writing Activities 

After the students have read and reflected on all they have learned about polar bears, it's time for some writing activities. The ones we use include:
  • are/have/can graphic organizer
  • polar bear attributes graphic organizer
  • polar bear labeling 
  • All About Polar Bears writing page 
  • Polar Bears creative writing prompt 

Incorporate writing into your polar bear unit with fun writing activities like these.

These writing activities are great for use during a writer's workshop block or as a small group activity. I like to first start out with the labeling and graphic organizer pages before moving on to the final prompts. My students love these writing pages since it's an opportunity for them to write down all the things they've learned about polar bears in their own words. 

Polar Bear Craft 

As a final way to end this fun polar bear unit, we always make a craft together. This is a great group activity for the afternoon or a Fun Friday! The craft activity we use takes a bit of patience and explanation, but they turn out so cute and make the perfect bulletin board display. 

To get started, students will use a large, light blue piece of construction paper to represent the sky. Students will add a strip of white paper for the snow. Then, I'll provide each kiddo with a set of polar bear body parts. Rather than using scissors to cut these pieces out, students will gently tear along the edge of each piece. Tearing the paper helps to represent the fur on the polar bear. 

Wrap up your polar bear unit with a fun craft that can also double as classroom decor during the winter months.

I always demonstrate how to do this and walk around the room so students can see. Children will work on tearing the pieces and then gluing them down on their blue paper to build their bear. As a finishing touch, kiddos can add the details (eyes, nose, insides of ears) to their bear with a black marker. 

As an optional last step, we sometimes use an Epsom salt wash over the polar bears. This final step is completely optional, but it really adds to the final product and resembles snow. Once the polar bears are complete and dry, they really do make the cutest bulletin board display! If you have the space, it's fun to display one of the writing prompts above each student's bear as well. 

Add Some Polar Bear Fun to Your Classroom 

I hope you enjoyed reading about the fun ways we focus on polar bears in my classroom. I love this unit since it covers so many subjects and ensures engagement among my kiddos. If you'd like to take a peek at the activities in this post, be sure to check out my Polar Bears Non-Fiction Unit. This resource has everything you need to teach your students all about polar bears in a fun and engaging way!

Try these polar bear themed activities in your classroom this winter.

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Learning all about polar bears is fun and easy with these engaging activities your students will love. Using non-fiction books, worksheets, interactive and hands-on activities, plus a fun craft will be sure to get your kiddos excited to learn all about polar bears. Use these fun polar bear activities to help you hit your science, writing, or non-fiction standards goals. #thechocolateteacher #polarbearactivities #polarbears #learningaboutpolarbears #nonfictionanimalstudies #winteractivitiesforkids


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