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Learning about how polar animals survive in the severe cold in the arctic is so interesting and fun. My kids have learned so much from these polar animals activities. It’s a super fun way to celebrate a special day or party in daycare!
Studying polar animals with preschool kids is lots of fun. Here in Oklahoma, we don’t know a lot about extreme cold. It’s fun to explore what kind of animals can live in arctic conditions and to see how they live that way. So we like to talk about it and do polar animals activities in the wintertime at Little Sprouts.
Arctic animals for kids
There are many animals that live in the arctic. Polar bears are fun to study because they look so fluffy and cute. Penguins are adorable and interesting too. Seals, walruses, moose, oxen, reindeer, and even arctic fox and snowy owl are fun to learn about. There are a few ocean creatures that live in the arctic as well such as narwhals and orca whales.
And don’t forget malamute or sled dogs, white foxes, and white hares. They are all interesting polar creatures too.
There are a ton of ways to study what polar animals do. How do they feed? What other food sources are available when everything is frozen over? How do they keep warm? How do they sleep? Do your preschool kids know that it’s dark most of the time and the daylight hours are very short? Here in Oklahoma, we can see the days being far shorter than in summer. When the kids are dropped off its dark and in the middle of winter it’s dark or nearly dark when they are picked up as well.
One polar animals activity I love to do is take a gallon-sized zip lock bag and put a few cups of ice in it. Then take a quart-sized bag and put your hand inside. Then wrap the outside of the quart-sized bag in shortening or butter.
Pour some water in the gallon bag so it’s a bag of ice water. Then use the “fat” glove to dip into the freezing water and see if your hand gets cold. This is a great way to demonstrate to kids how fat insulates animals from feeling the cold too. There’s an article about it that shows how to do it here: Polar bear blubber experiment.
You can also talk about their thick fur and show them different kinds of fur or even fuzzy fabrics in our coats and how they keep us warm. Temperature is a great science lesson about polar animals for kids. These are both great arctic sensory activities for kids and so is the next one.
Another really fun polar animals activity we’ve done is to make a glacier and let the kids explore it with animals. First, you take a cup and fill it with water and freeze it. Once it’s frozen solid, place it in a shallow dish and fill the dish with about an inch or two of water so the cup blocks the ice from freezing in that circle. We used a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Place that in the freezer.
The next day, fill the pan the rest of the way with water, wait about 5 minutes until the cup is free from the ice shelf and take it out. Now you have a glacier with a hole in it like polar animals use to swim under the ice in order to hunt for food. Penguins, seals, polar bears and other polar animals dive under the ice to catch fish and ocean animals to eat.
We had this fun set of polar animals and I showed the kids how they were able to still get food even though the water is frozen. The kids loved this activity. It taught them fine motor skills and sharing as well as the science of how polar animals live.
Polar bear games
Polar bear or arctic animal dramatic play would be great polar animals activities with some costumes or kids can even just pretend. If you wanted to make costumes, you could let them make their own. When I was a kid in elementary school I used a brown paper grocery sack to make a penguin costume. I cut out a hole for my head and arms and then used black and white construction paper to make the flippers (or wings) and the big circle on the front. It was super fun for me.
There are so many fun polar animal games you can add to your circle time.
- This DIY Feed the Penguin Game for Preschoolers looks like tons of fun!
- Check out this large motor polar bear game too.
- Pretending to be an arctic fox sounds like lots of fun in this arctic fox game.
- Also, you can try this seek and find game for winter animals.
- Another great winter animal activity for your lesson plans is to give the kids dark paper like black or dark blue and let them color with white crayons or chalk. This creates a winter scene and kids can draw polar bears and other polar animals or you can give them stickers or cut-outs to add to the snowy scene.
- You can even make polar bear snacks with or for the kids like these polar bear paws or these candy polar bears.
- Upcycle old tin cans into these lovely (and easy) Polar Bear Pen pots. Or make a whole set and have a game of tin can bowling!
Animal activities for kids
- This fun little penguin craft is made from popsicle sticks, string, and scraps of fabric and foam. This is a fun craft for preschoolers with just a little help from a grown-up cutting out the penguin pieces.
- Here’s a cardboard tube penguin craft you can make with paper towel tubes. Looks like a ton of fun.
- This penguin windsock is adorable. I want to make one.
- And I also love a paper plate penguin.
- I also love this potato print penguin craft for toddlers.
- This penguin made from a clear ornament is one of my favorites, take a look. I think young kids could do several parts of this penguin craft. And don’t forget the free printable penguins below.
- Use these free printables to enhance your polar animals activities and learning. Matching cards for the Antarctica toob of animals from Safari. This is a Montessori-inspired printable.
- Check out this free arctic pack for tracer pages, and other arctic animal worksheets.
- You can get this free penguin learning pack too.
- You can print this free polar bear memory game to use with your kids in your study of arctic animals.
- With this Polar Animals activities pack, children will learn about different animals that are able to adapt to the harsh conditions in this area.
- The Penguin Life Cycle activity pack includes Penguin facts and kids will learn about the different parts of a penguin.
- Here’s another free printable. Printable Polar Bear Sharing and Halving activity for Preschoolers.
There are a ton of great books about polar animals. You can even make your own books with the brown bear brown bear theme and do polar bear polar bear, what do you see? I see a penguin looking at me. Penguin, penguin, what do you see? I see an arctic fox looking at me.
It would be fun to let each child color one of the animals and then write the words on the pages and make a group book that kids can read. I like to laminate the pages of homemade books and then punch a hole in the top corner and put a ring binder through it or tie it with yarn. Kids love reading books they made. You can also find tons of great books from scholastic or amazon such as:
Polar Bears, If Polar Bears Disappeared, Polar Bear Island, Little Penguin Stays Awake, It’s Nice to Be a Narwhal, Arctic Animals, Hush Little Polar Bear and so much more. I love reading to kids and adding my own spin on the story. I also love to help kids learn more about the world through reading.
Winter Themes for Preschool
There is much more winter fun for your preschool lesson plans:
Winter is going to be awesome!