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Changes in the Arctic Ecosystem

The Earth’s ecosystem—including the Arctic—is very fragile, and polar bears are among many creatures and plants that face an uncertain future. Discover more about how these magnificent creatures may be affected.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Students find out why polar bears’ future may be threatened by changes in the Earth’s climate. Students conduct research about a variety of perspectives on the issue. Locate the polar bears’ habitat on a map. For magnificent animal photographs, locate resources such as The Last Polar Bear: Facing the Truth of a Warming World by Steven Kazlowski.
    2. Students apply their knowledge to depict polar bears in their natural habitat. This Arctic scene, which might make a great science fair project, is made with recycled items so it is even more Earth friendly. Here are a few ideas:
    3. With Crayola Model Magic® compound, cover a cardboard base to look like snow. Place a recycled plastic container on the base. Mold a dome of modeling material over it to look like an igloo, the traditional home of native people living in the Arctic. Attach a small tunnel as an entrance. With a modeling tool, press gently into the compound to draw ice blocks on the outside of the igloo. Use Model Magic pieces and Crayola Glitter Glue to embellish the igloo in the sparkling snow. Air-dry the glue.
    4. To make polar bears, shape Model Magic ovals for their bodies and heads. Press them together and smooth the seam. Add legs made with short, thick rolls of compound. Bend them for a realistic look. Shape tiny, rounded ears. Attach the pieces to the body and head. Use a contrasting color to shape eyes, ears, a nose, and mouth. Place the polar bears in the scene. Give them a few sparkles with Glitter Glue, too. Air-dry your scene at least 24 hours before handling.
    5. Display the polar sculpture and orally present information about the effects of the Earth’s warming climate on polar bears.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the complexity band proficiently.

    LA: Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly drawing inferences from the text.

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SCI: Construct original explanations of phenomena using knowledge of accepted scientific theory and linking it to models and evidence.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Polar Bears by Gail Gibbons; Polar Bears: A Nature Watch Book by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent; Great Ice Bear: The Polar Bear and the Eskimo by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent; Polar Babies by Susan Ring

    In small groups, students research the history of igloos. How are igloos insulated? What are the differences between the three types of igloos? Challenge students to build an authentic replicas of each of the igloo types using blocks created from Crayola Model Magic compound.

    How are polar wildlife and plants affected by climate change? What can humans do to reduce our carbon footprint? Students investigate these questions and report on their findings in an electronic format.

    You class has been invited to spend a month studying polar bears! You must discover where in the world you will be traveling, how you will be transported to that region, the climate you will be living in, as well as what it may be like to live with the polar bears. In small groups, students investigate these items and write entries into personal journals to document this adventure. Upon returning home, students can audio-tape journal entries onto a class computer and attach the audio files to an original sketch of the adventure, created using Crayola Colored Pencils.


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