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Polar Bears in the Northern Lights

Create a Polar Bear in his habitat, surrounded by the colorful Northern Lights using blended watercolors.

  • Kindergarten
    Pre-Kindergarten
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. During a unit of study focused on winter, discuss Arctic animals and their habitats. Use a variety of print sources to compare how these Arctic animals look, as well as how they adapt for the seasons and changing habitats. Some animals change their outer appearance to match their surroundings based on the season, while others simply blend in with the snowy winter landscape. Examine both maps and globes to help describe where and why these arctic habitats are so cold for so long during a calendar year. Look at images of the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. There are websites as well as online videos that show the amazing, changing, organic colorful winter skies. Discuss the colors and shapes seen in those images and how they blend together.
    2. Focus the discussion on Polar Bears as the largest and most aggressive land mammal in the Arctic. (Discuss Polar bear basics: size, skin color being black and translucent hair to allow the skin to absorb the heat of the sun. The snow is reflected off of their fur making them appear white in color. They are excellent swimmers, and in some countries are classified as marine mammals. Their sense of smell is powerful and can detect a seal underneath 3 feet of ice! Additional discussion topics could include snow dens, how cubs remain with mother for nearly 2 years, food, etc.
    3. Look at images of polar bears and discuss the geometric shapes that could be used to draw them.
    4. Ask students HOW you could make a picture of a polar bear if you only had white paper? (Paint and color everything EXCEPT the polar bear and the snow.)
    5. In preparation for the art activity, provide students with white paper and Crayola© Erasable Colored Pencils. Ask students to draw a horizon line extending off both sides of the paper.
    6. Encourage the use of geometric shapes to draw a polar bear. Suggest a large oval for the body, rectangles for legs, a circle for the head, small oval for the nose, small circles for ears and a small oval for the animal’s tail. Students may add a cub if so desired.
    7. With white Construction Paper Crayons, students outline and color the polar bear’s body for texture and to repel any unwanted paint.
    8. Use Washable Watercolors to paint the sky. Use a variety of watery colors to allow students to blend together and create their interpretation of “Northern Lights.”
    9. Provide time in the school day for students to share their artwork.
  • Standards

    LA: With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

    LA: Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.

    LA: With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the text in which they appear (e.g., what person, place, thing, or idea in the text an illustration depicts).

    LA: Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.

    MATH: Identify and describe shapes.

    SCI: Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.

    SCI: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how plants and animals (including humans) can change the environment to meet their needs.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools such as atlases, data bases, grid systems, charts, graphs, and maps to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Describe and speculate about physical system changes, such as seasons, climate and weather, and the water cycle.

    VA: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work.

    VA: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

    VA: Refine and complete artistic work.

  • Adaptations

    Great books for discussion on this topic include: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC READERS: POLAR BEARS by Laura Marsh; LITTLE POLAR BEAR FINDS A FRIEND by Hans de Beer; POLAR BEAR RESCUS: ALL ABOUT POLR BEARS AND HOW TO SAVE THEM by Karen De Seve and Nancy Castaldo; AURORA: A TALE OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS by Mindy Dwyer; COUNT ALASKA’S COLORS, Shelley Gill

    Encourage students to use their paintings as a starting point for an original story.

    Interested students may choose to research project polar bears and their habitats further. This additional research can be organized into a non-fiction text with original artwork.

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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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