Now that it’s cold outside, how do you stay warm? Maybe you just go inside and have a hot cup of cocoa. But what do animals do to stay warm in winter? How do they adapt to the cold?
LESSON PLAN: In this lesson, children learn about ten arctic animals and their babies. These animals are amazing because they’ve learned how to live where it is very cold and the nights are very long!
Suggested Grade Level: K-3
- The book Over in the Arctic Where the Cold Wind Blows
- “Blubber Mitt,” one per group. Each mitt consists of 2 sandwich bags and 1/2 cup Crisco shortening
- Bowl of ice water, one per group
Create a “Blubber Mitt” by filling one zip-lock sandwich bag 1/2 full with solid shortening. Flatten it down and then place it into the other zip-lock bag.
1. Read aloud Over in the Arctic Where the Cold Wind Blows. Read or paraphrase the nonfiction information about each animal in the back of the book. Explain how each animal stays warm in the harsh arctic environment:
- Polar bear—heavy, water-repellent fur and a thick layer of blubber
- Arctic hare—short thick undercoat of fur protected by a top coat of longer fur; feet are padded with fur
- Walrus—a layer of blubber covers their entire body
- Arctic fox—deep, thick fur all over, even on their paws
- Beluga whale—a layer of blubber. It also migrates to a warmer climate in winter.
- Arctic wolf—small hairs between the pads of their feet and long, thick fur
- Snow goose—migrates to a warmer climate in winter
- Seal—a layer of blubber
- Snowy owl—downy feathers covered with a thick layer of feathers, with feathers even on their feet
- Wolverine—thick, oily fur that is frost resistant
2. Divide the class into small groups and give each group a blubber mitt. Have each student put one hand palm down into the second bag so that the Crisco-filled bag is underneath the palm. Have students put their mitt-covered hand in a bowl of ice water. Then have students put their bare hand in the bowl. Ask them what difference they felt in temperature. Discuss how blubber keeps an animal warm.
- Read Magic School Bus in the Arctic and do the additional demonstration with cotton balls (simulating fur as insulation).
- Challenge students to insulate jars of warm water so that they keep the heat in the jar as long as possible. Dip a finger in each of the jars after an hour. Which stayed the warmest? Why?
Common Core Standards (ELA K-3)
Reading: Informational Text—Key Ideas and Details (K.1, 2.1, 3.1); Integration and Knowledge of Ideas (K.7, 1.7, 2.7, 3.7)
Next Generation Science Standards (DCI K-3)
LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: (A) Structures and Processes; (B) Growth and Development of Organisms
LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
LS3: Heredity: Inheritance and Variation of Traits
LS4: Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity