Exploring Biomes - Tundra and Polar Habitats

Studying a snowy, cold habitat in the midst of warm autumn days was a stretch, but tundra and polar habitats were next to explore.  We began with a brief introduction and description of cold weather and tundra.  Using information from lesson 18 of Properties of Ecosystems, by Debbie and Richard Lawrence, the following information was highlighted:
  • origin of word tundra
  • location of tundra
  • climate, including temperature examples and snowfall amounts
  • sunlight hours throughout the seasons
  • ephemerals
The introduction of ephemerals became a starting point for "Polar Plants" p. 74 of Habitats: Science Works for Kids Series, Evan-Moor.  The worksheet displayed a few different types of tundra flora (plants).

Next, we discussed the concept of permafrost.  Turning our attention toward the fauna (animals) of the habitat, the children named a few animals they associated with the tundra and polar habitats.  I used The Best Book of Polar Animals and The Arctic to show pictures of the various animals and share some neat facts about their fur.  I was sure to mention those pesky mosquitoes who apparently reside in the tundra and fly in swarms during the summer months.

Later, we spoke about migration, hibernation, and camouflage. The mere mention of camouflage aroused interesting comments about chameleons, various frogs, and the sort, but finally we focused on the animals like Arctic Fox, Arctic Hare, and Ptarmigan. Then the children had fun painting the hare in a summer and winter scene to demonstrate camouflage. The activity was quite simple, but left a strong impression about camouflage and its usefulness. We followed the directions from pp. 78-79 in Animal Habitats! by Judy Press.

Then, each child completed an Arctic food wheel from the "Polar Regions" section of Animal Habitats: Grades 2-3, by Donald M. Silver and Patricia J. Wynne, pages 50-55.  We didn't have as much time as I would have liked to actually discuss this wheel, but I was able to present a brief overview about it while reading aloud The Arctic Habitat, by Molly Aloian and Bobbie Kalman.  Not only did this book touch upon food chains in the Arctic, it summarized nicely all that we had discussed during class time, and added a few more interesting facts.

Tundra, by Peter Benoit
The Antarctic Habitat, by Mollie Aloian and Bobbie Kalman
The Arctic Habitat, by Molly Aloian and Bobbie Kalman
The Best Book of Polar Animals, by Christiane Gunzi
The Arctic, by Wayne Lynch.

Other Resource a.k.a. The Fun Extras My Child Got to Do Because I Am the Teacher:
Nothing Ever Happens at the South Pole, by Stan & Jan Berenstain - This is a fun read aloud set at the south pole.  Use caution though, as there are inaccuracies like polar bears at the south pole.  However, we just read it for the laughs

I Can Draw Polar Animals, by Helene Leroux Hugon - If your child is able to draw simple shapes, then this book will help them draw common polar animals.  Our son had fun trying his hand at a whale, polar bear, and wolf.

Planet Earth, Education Edition: Ice Worlds, Discovery Education DVD


  1. I saw a cool activity that helps children to understand how fat/blubber keeps one warm. Coat a child's hand generously with shortening...then dip in icy water. It looked cool to me!

    1. That sounds really neat. Wonder if I have shortening on hand? Definitely gonna see if we can try it.

  2. This is a great source and it looks like you are having a good time studying the tundra. "Look! What We Did!" is up and running and it would be great if you could link this there.

    1. Thanks for the heads-up, Savannah. There are so many great ideas to be found at "Look! What We Did!" (Linking this post now)


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