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Learning About Polar Bears

written by: Elizabeth Wistrom • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 1/5/2012

Enhance your science lesson plans for Kindergarten with these facts and science experiment. Students will learn more about polar bears and how their blubber keeps them warm. The article also provides a link to polar bear crafts which you can use to supplement the unit.

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    Polar bears are cute, cuddly and fun to learn about! Before beginning your science lesson plans for Kindergarten, introduce the topic and by reading the book Polar Bears, by Gail Gibbons. This non-fiction reader is a great source of basic and interesting facts about polar bears. Explain to the children that after you have finished reading the story aloud, they will be asked to generate a list of 10 polar bear facts from those they will hear in the story - so they should be certain to listen carefully. 51C70P8MPBL. SL500 AA240 

    After you have finished reading the story, work together as a class to devise a list of 10 polar bear facts. Use a permanent black marker and chart paper to record their answers. For fun, you may wish to cut the chart paper into the shape of a polar bear or a polar bear's paw.

    Some possible topics include:

    1. Where polar bears live. (The Arctic)
    2. What scientists call the polar bear. (Ursus Maritimus - which means "sea bear")
    3. What it likes to eat. (Seals)
    4. What the physical characteristics of a polar bear are. (Small ears, extra eyelids, webbed paws, teeth, fur)
    5. Why polar bears do not have eyelashes. (They would freeze and have icicles)
    6. How long a male polar bear is. (About 10 feet)
    7. How much a male polar bear weighs. (750-1100 pounds)
    8. How it keeps warm. (Blubber)
    9. What polar bear babies are called. (Cubs)
    10. How fast a polar bear can run. (40 miles per hour)
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    Experiment

    A fun component to include in any science lesson plans for Kindergarten is an experiment. Here is a simple experiment that you can do to reinforce one of the facts discussed above.

    Background

    Polar bears have a layer of fat under their skin. This layer of fat is called "blubber." The blubber can be 4-5 inches thick. The polar bear's layer of fat helps to keep the bear warm and protected from the cold Arctic air and water.

    Blubber - or animal fat - is very similar to a type of vegetable fat that we are familiar with, called lard or shortening. Shortening is often used for cooking.

    As a part of these science lesson plans for Kindergarten, shortening can be used to demonstrate how an animal's blubber provides warmth.

    Materials

    • Bowl of ice cold water shortening2 
    • Container of lard or vegetable shortening
    • 2 plastic sandwich bags (one bag should be empty. The other should be 3/4 full of the shortening or lard.)

    Procedure

    1. Have students come up to the science experiment station one at a time.
    2. Instruct the student to place one hand in the ice cold bowl of water.
    3. Ask the student how their hand felt. (The response you are looking for is "cold.")
    4. Now have the student place their dry hand in the empty bag, and then the bagged hand into the bag partially filled with lard or shortening.
    5. Ask the student to now place both hands in the ice cold bowl of water - the bare hand and the hand protected inside the bag of lard or shortening.
    6. Ask the student which hand feels warmer. (The response you are looking for is "the hand inside the bag of lard or shortening.")
    7. Have the student remove their hands and dry off.
    8. Remind the student of the 10 polar bear facts learned, and reiterate that a polar bear's blubber helps to keep it warm and protected from the cold Arctic air and water. The shortening is similar to the blubber. That is why the hand inside the bag of shortening or lard felt warmer - because it was protected from the ice cold water the same way the blubber protects the polar bear.
    9. Repeat the steps with the next student.

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    Extend

    Your class is sure to have fun learning about polar bears with these hands-on activities! While students are waiting for their turn at the science experiment station, or after they have finished with the experiment part of these science lesson plans for Kindergarten, you may wish to have them complete a polar bear craft or create a book using the facts they have learned.

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    Resources and Image Credit

    Activities are based on the author's own experience

    Images are courtesy of Amazon.com