Arctic Vs. Antarctic

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Students will be able to identify similarities and differences between two texts on the same topic.

Big Idea

Students use a Venn diagram to compare and contrast the two Polar Habitats.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I hold up the book we read the previous day.

“Who can recall one piece of information we learned yesterday from this book?”

The Antarctic Habitat, by Molly Aloian and Bobbie Kalman.

I select several students who are following the correct student protocol of raising their hand to respond to this question.

“Those were all great recalling of facts we learned about the Antarctic. It is a landmass surrounded by water. It is in the Southern Hemisphere. Penguins do live there. There are no native peoples associated with Antarctica.”

“Well today we are going to read a book just like this book but it is about…”

I allow the students to call out, “The Arctic!”

“Well done.”


I use this discussion to refresh the students’ memories of facts they know about the Antarctic. They will need this information in order to complete the activity part of the lesson. 


45 minutes

“This book is called The Arctic Habitat and it is written by the same author as yesterday’s book, Molly Aloian and Bobbie Kalman.”

“Looking at the cover of this book do you think it will be fiction or non-fiction?”

I select a student who is following the correct protocol of raising their hand to answer the question.

“Why do you think it is going to be a non-fiction book Owen?”

“Owen thinks this will be a non-fiction book because the picture on the cover looks real and we read one just like it yesterday.”

I open the book to the first page and we discuss how we see a table of contents.

“Can anyone tell me what this page is?”

I point to someone who is raising their hand.

“Your right Adam it is a table of contents. The table of contents page does what?”

I point to another student.

“That’s right Kara it does tell us where to find information.”

“Here is a hard question for you all. Does anyone remember other features of the book that will tell us this is a non-fiction book?”

I select enough students to respond to this question until we have reviewed all of the features of a non-fiction book. Features such as: pop-out words (bold words), index, and glossary and perhaps labels. Any features that were missed by the students I will bring up during this discussion.

“Okay let’s go ahead and read our book to find out information about the Arctic Habitat.”


During reading will discuss some of the features we come across that are in direct contrast to yesterday’s book. Features such as it is a water based pole surrounded by land, native people are associated with this area and polar bears roam wild there but no penguins.   


After reading I tell the students to take a seat around the edge of the rug.

While the students are moving to the edge of the rug I open up a blank screen on the SMARTBoard.

Once everyone is settled I draw a Venn diagram on the blank screen.

“Does anyone remember what this is? You will have to think hard because the last time we used this tool was in our Pumpkin Unit.”

I select a student with their hand raised.

“Well done Rachel it is a Venn diagram. Does anyone remember what we use it for?”

Again I select a student with their hand raised.

“Great Ryan; I use the Venn diagram to put information in about two things.” At this point I review what Ryan said in the correct terminology so the students get comfortable with the correct terminology and have a deeper understanding for when they asked to recall this tool with another teacher.

“A Venn diagram is used when we want to compare and contrast two items. Who can tell me what compare is?”

If no one raises their hand I tell them, “Comparing is the details the items have in common – both the same. So if compare is the same, what is contrast?”

At this point the students understand it is the opposite and I allow them to call out, “Different!”

“That is right; contrast details that are different.”

“What heading should I put over the top of this circle?”

I select a student who has their hand raised.

“Okay this circle is now the Arctic; thank you Justin. So if this circle is the Arctic, what is this circle going to be labeled?”

I allow the students to call out, “Antarctic!”

“Great now both of those circles are labeled, but what about this piece in the middle where the circles overlap? What do I label that?”

I allow the students to call it out, “Both!”

“Nice one. Okay. Now all of our pieces of the Venn diagram are labeled. What do I do now?”

I select a student who has their hand raised.

“Carson says I put Arctic stuff in here (I point to the Arctic circle) and Antarctic stuff here (I point to the Antarctic circle) and stuff they both have in here (I point to the overlapping section). Is he right?”

I allow the students to call out, “Yes!”

“Good we are ready to begin. Who has some details from the books to give me and tell me where it goes?”

I select several students to give me information from both books and we decide whole group where the information goes. I make sure to have at least two or three pieces of information for each section.

After we have filled in the Venn diagram with some information I tell the students what they are going to do at integrated work time.

“Boys and girls than you for helping me fill in my Venn diagram about the two Polar regions. Today at one of your integrated work stations you will find a Venn diagram sheet just like the one we have used here on the board. Your job will be to fill it in comparing and contrasting details from the books we read yesterday and today. What resources could I use to help me fill in my Venn diagram?”

Arctic/Antarctic Venn Diagram Master

I select enough students with their hands raised to cover all the resources the students can use.

“Those were all great suggestions of resources. I can use the books, I can use the SMARTBoard, and I can use my friends.”

“Now at another station you will have a blank piece of paper like this one (I hold up the sample I have), and a sheet of items like this one (I hold up the sample I have). It will be your job to sort the items to the correct location on your paper.”

Arctic Antarctic Images.

“Before you sort the items you will need to label one end of your paper the North Pole and the other end the …”

I allow the students to call out the answer, “The South Pole!”

“That’s right. This way Mrs. Clapp will know whether you have sorted the items into the correct location or not.”

“For both activities I will be using checklists to go over your work to see if you followed directions. Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some Arctic Antarctic fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely. 

Students preparing to sort Arctic and Antarctic images.

Labeling ready for sorting.                                            Labeling using resources.

Student working on labeling images. 



Comparing and Contrasting.



10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

Student sample of image sorting work.

Student showing Arctic Antarctic sort of images.


Once the students are seated I tell them their exit slip for today is to tell me one detail they recall from our lesson today.

“Your exit slip to get your snack today is to tell me one detail from our lesson. This is a tricky one so listen closely. First you will need to tell me the detail and then where it would be found on the Venn diagram – Arctic, Antarctic or both. Got it?”

After a student has told me the detail they recall they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work together on coming up with a detail. 

This exit ticket process can be used as a quick assessment tool to see if students grasped the concept in the lesson activity.  


For this assignment I will use the Arctic Antarctic Compare and Contrast Activity Checklist to go over the students work to make sure they met the objectives set for the assignment. Once I have completed the checklist, I attach it to the students work and place it in their collection portfolio.

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the objectives of the lesson. I am looking to see if the student is able to accurately follow the directions for the assignment which means they will meet the overall objective for the lesson. Did the student write their name on their work? Did the student accurately fill in the information on the Venn diagram? Did the student sort the items correctly to each pole? Is the students work neat and tidy?

Using checklists helps me to stay focused on what I am looking for in the student work and maintain a fair view of each student abilities. The checklists are also a good way to convey information to the student’s parents about how they are doing in the classroom during work time. 


Students practice their magnifying glass skills by matching a tiny Polar image to the correct large Polar image.