I call the kids one table at a time to come sit on the floor. I ask the kids to raise a hand if they've ever heard of a place called the Arctic. I then call on random volunteers to share what they know about the Arctic.
I do this to see if any of them may have pre-existing knowledge of the arctic as it is the most difficult habitat for my kids to grasp. Most of them have never heard of it and since we live in a desert, they don't relate to the concept of how cold it is there.
I ask the kids if they can think of any animals that might live in a very cold place like that. I list them on chart paper as they contribute. We will revisit it later in the lesson.
The exploration for this lesson directly integrates with social studies. The kids remain on the floor as I use a globe to show the kids where the Arctic is located on our planet.
I first explain to them that a globe is like a model of our planet, Earth. I then show them where the arctic zone is located and I place a sticker on it. I then use my computer and ActivBoard to show them even closer using Google Earth. I open the app and type in "Arctic Zone"; Google Earth takes us on a virtual field trip. If you don't have an ActivBoard or SmartBoard, you can simply use a pull-down map to do the same thing.
I have the kids go sit at their tables and call the table leaders up to get a copy of a map book for each person at their table. I prepare these books the day before. I have the kids write their name on the front cover. I then have them turn to the first map, the world. I point out where the arctic circle is on the world Google Earth map. I have the kids locate the arctic zone on their map and color it blue. I roam the room to make sure they are coloring in the correct spot.
Once everyone has colored on map 1, I have them turn the next page, a close up map of the arctic circle, top view. I move the Google Earth map and show them a top view of the arctic circle. I again have them color it blue. They close their map books.
* You will notice that the maps are not in book form in this lesson. That is because the copy machine was not cooperative the week I taught this lesson. If that happens to you, just give the kids one map at a time beginning with the single North Pole map with surrounding countries.
The question - What would an animal need to live in the arctic circle?
To answer this, the kids need to know what it would feel like to live there. To experience this, I bring a cooler filled with ice to school. I scoop out a bowl of ice for each student and place it in front of them. I ask the kids to put their hands in the ice and keep them their until it gets too cold for them. They giggle the whole time, but they do it.
Once they have all had enough ice time, I call them back to the floor one table team at a time. I ask them to think what it would be like to have your whole body feel like that all the time! I ask them to silently think to themselves about what they would need to survive living there. I then have them turn to their floor partner to share their thoughts. Each person is given 20 seconds to speak; I set a timer.
I next call on random students to share their ideas with the whole class. I choose the students by pulling name sticks from a name stick can. I record their ideas on a piece of chart paper.
I use this procedure to elicit information from the students because it requires every student to participate while sparing class time as there is never enough time for every student to be heard every lesson.
The engagement piece to for this lesson comes through a book about the arctic zone called, North Pole, South Pole by Diane Dawson Hearn. As we read, we make observations about the animals that live in the arctic zones. We take note of their size, their fur, how they move, and their diets. We look for similarities and differences.
The walrus is featured in the book. We talk about what it eats, how heavy and thick its is and how it can go for long periods of time without food, if necessary.
On the poster that was created in our first habitat lesson, we list the animals that we encounter in the book just as we listed the animals that live in the woods in the previous lesson. This helps in our quest to understand our over-arcing objective of "Why do different animals live in different types of habitats?" It is my goal to have the kids begin to make connections between needs and habitats.
The evaluation of this lesson happens in two parts:
1) the kids cut and paste arctic animals in an arctic scene and glue it in their science journal
2) the kids draw and write about their favorite arctic animal. They must write 2 or more sentences about why the animal needs to live in the arctic.
I use this evaluation as a check for understanding that all animals have specific needs that only certain habitats can provide.
The kids remain seated on the floor while I explain and demonstrate the evaluative tasks. I then call the table leaders up to get the science journals for their table along with a scene/animal sheet for each person. Once the table leaders have set up each persons' spot, I call one team at a time to go sit down and begin working.
As the kids work, I roam the room to ask students questions and monitor progress. I ask questions like, "How does having a thick fat layer help the walrus live in the arctic?" The purpose is to listen for understanding and misconceptions. I reinforce understandings with positive affirmations and clarify misconceptions as they are revealed.
Once all the students have completed their independent work, I call one table at a time to sit on the floor with their science journals. They are asked to turn to their floor partners and share their work. They are to compare animals on scenes and explain to their partners what they drew and wrote about. This is an important step because it brings closure to the lesson and allows kids to share ideas and teach each other.
After they have shared with their floor partners, I call on 3 random students by pulling names from the name stick can. They are asked to share their work with the whole class. The kids listening to the presentations are encouraged to ask questions for deeper understanding and clarification.