Teaching first grade students about Polar and Arctic Animals is one of my favorite units of the year.
The topic of Polar Animals is naturally exciting for students which makes it easily engaging for a science unit.
I use this opportunity to talk about the different kinds of animals live in the Polar and Arctic regions, what they eat, and what types of physical features help them survive in their environment.
This post is definitely for you if you're looking to spice up your winter science lessons and save some time by combining science, reading and writing for a fun and engaging Polar and Arctic animal themed unit.
Polar Animal Facts for First Grade
We start by learning the basic facts about animals in Polar and Arctic Regions. I use the vocabulary/picture cards (seen on the left) to introduce ore review different types of animals that you would see in those regions. This is a good way to measure how much your students already know about Polar and Arctic animals and also activate their background knowledge.
If we want to do a “deep dive” into a certain animal, we will do a little bit of research on that animal using the National Geographic Kids website.
I really like to highlight that Polar and Arctic animals have different features that help them survive in their environments. The “Big Polar Animals” worksheet (seen on the left) is a great way for us to do that!
Just about everything at the beginning of our unit is done together as a whole group, and is what I call “guided practice” because I am guiding the class through most of it.
PS. If you want to save time, you can simply show the activity on a document camera and complete it together as a class. This is my go to trick for science and social studies since we very rarely have time for it.
More Facts about Polar Animals
Now, it's time for some more independent activities where students show what facts they have learned about reindeer.
If I want to save time… which is ALWAYS… I'll put these science themed activities in my writing station during guided reading time.
This works GREAT when it's a topic that we've already talked about as a class and something that the kids are really interested in.
Which makes this reindeer unit the PERFECT activities to use as independent writing station activities.
You can see one of my favorite Polar Animals independent activities to the right where students have to cut and paste different animal diets.
Polar Animals Writing Activities
The best way to wrap up any first grade science unit is with a writing activity and this Polar Animals unit is no different.
With an open ended prompt like “If I Were a Polar Animal”, you are able to meet the needs of all of your students.
The expectations you set for your students' writing will make sure that struggling students are not discouraged and also make sure that your more advanced writers are given a challenge.
For early writers, I might start them with sentence stems that they copy and fill in one or two words of their own.
For more advanced writers, I require them to write with “7-up” sentences, which means their sentences should contain seven words or more (and make sense, lol)!