A polar animal theme is always fun in those winter months! I’m sharing my favorite polar animal themed activities and centers for preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten (and a fun freebie too). If you want all the Polar Animal Math and Literacy Centers click HERE.
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Oh my goodness friends, how cute is this penguin directed drawing? If you have never done a directed drawing with your kiddos, here’s how it works. If you have older kids (kindergarten) or have done many directed drawings simply place the visual directions in the center with the supplies students will need. If you have younger kiddos, you draw a step then they draw a step. Use simple words to describe what you are drawing.
Use oil pastels to draw the penguin (what we did) or use Sharpie markers. Then paint the penguin with watercolor paint. For the background, paint with watercolor and sprinkle kosher salt in it when it is still wet. Encourage kiddos to use lots of water for this project. Once it’s dry, gently rub off the salt to reveal the beautiful crystals and texture.
After you do the directed drawing, let students explore this technique! Place oil pastels, watercolors, and salt in the art center.
There are so many amazing non-fiction polar animal books! Pick a polar animal your students are interested in and draw it at the bottom of a piece of paper to create an anchor chart. Read a non-fiction book about that animal. As you read the text don’t forget to talk about and read the photographs too! Photographs tell the reader so many things. After you read, students can share something they learned and write it on the chart.
Feed Me Letter Match is a letter game your kiddos will want to play again and again. I made a little ocean with some blue foam and attached paper clips to the fish so the kiddos could use magnet wands to collect the fish! Magnet wands make everything more fun.
Feed Me can be played so many different ways… match letters (uppercase to uppercase or uppercase to lowercase), build names (pictured above), or build sight words!
Polar Animal Letter Hide and Seek is another fun letter game (it also comes in lowercase letters and numbers 1-30). To teach how to play the game, we did this activity as a transition activity! I modeled marking off the letters on the clipboard as the students came up one at a time to guess a letter, say the letter sound, and look for the iceberg. Then a few days later, I put the game in the library center for students to play independently. I used a cheap pocket chart calendar for this game but you can use any pocket chart you have on hand.
For this polar animal writing center, I added PENS (yes pens in shades of blue, green, and purple), metallic crayons, penguin stickers, markers, twisty crayons, polar animal paper, and polar animal vocabulary cards. If you change up the writing center, it wil keep students interest all year long.
Writing on paper gets boring so try writing on foil (aka ice). Use dry erase markers so students can write and erase on the foil just like a dry erase board.
Finding quality polar animal picture books was tricky. There are some great ones like Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett. I ordered some good ones on Amazon last week and I’ll work on a Polar Animal Booklist blog post next! You can see the full list HERE in my free curriculum map.
Math & Science Activities
Make an iceberg counting game with leftover single serve ice cream cups! Cover a tray with foil (aka ice), write a number on the bottom of each cup, and place glass gems in the tray. I grabbed these gems from the Dollar Store. To play, students toss a polar animal in an iceberg, identify the number, and count out the corresponding number of ice.
Build 2D Iceberg Shapes with silver pipe cleaners! Cut the pipe cleaners various sizes for students to use to create the shape. Once they create the shape, they place the matching shape penguins on top.
Building 10 (informal addition) can be a tricky skill for some so make it a game! Students pick a card and build ten with snow and ice. The ice is plastic ice cubes from the Dollar Tree. Add tweezers to sneak in some fine motor work.
Ice cube trays are perfect for a polar animal theme. For this ice cube pattern activity, kiddos copy the pattern. Extend the pattern and make your own pattern cards are also included.
Don’t want to make patterns? Grab a dice and make an ice cube tray counting game for your polar animal theme.
At the science table, examine and measure snowflakes! Snowflakes are beautiful, unique, and hexagonal in shape. Grab the All About Snow and Ice science unit HERE. If you are lucky and it snows during your polar animal theme, bring some inside to examine and explore. This snowflake matching activity is also a great visual discrimination activity as well.
For the blocks center, add some props so students can build polar habitats! Grab some polar animals (mine are from the Dollar Tree and Michaels), cotton balls, glass gems, big snowballs, Winter STEM I Can Build cards, silver foam board, white felt, and cover triangle blocks with foil to create icebergs. Your students will be planning and building polar habitats like crazy. Trust me, you will not hear,”I don’t know what to build”. The new props and cards will spark new ideas!
Sensory and Fine Motor ActivitiesMake a polar animal play dough tray so students can have fun building and strengthening those fine motor muscles! Grab some arctic animals, glass gems, play dough, rhinestones, and snowflake cookie cutters. Students can pretend the snowflakes are icebergs and build little arctic habitats and homes for the animals.
SLIME! Friends, I absolutely LOVE slime (maybe more than the kids)! Make some blue slime with silver glitter and throw in some polar animal mini erasers or mini animals. These penguin mini erasers were from Target last year or you can grab these polar bear mini erasers from Amazon. Students can hide the mini erasers and find them with a friend or alone. Stretch the slime and watch the mini erasers slide.
Don’t throw the mini erasers away with the slime! Pick them out or better yet have the kiddos pick them out and soak the mini erasers in water overnight.
Make the arctic in the sensory table! Put in some ice cream cups, tweezers, polar animals, and glass gems. I filled the table with insta snow which will last for about 2-4 weeks. If you don’t want to use insta snow, fill the table with baking soda, snow dough (1 cup baby oil, 3 cups cornstarch) or cotton balls.
Feeling adventurous? Fill the sensory table with ice and water! Click HERE to check out all my favorite ice sensory tables.
If you want to try an icy theme in the dramatic play center, transform it into an Ice Rink! I’ll show you how HERE.
Ok, so now I’m hoping that your lesson plans are packed with fun, icy polar animal themed activities but if you need MORE Polar Animal Math and Literacy Centers, grab this pack from my TPT store.
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