Number one for English language teachers

Keith's Corner: Entry 7: An arctic winter

Type: Article

In his seventh diary entry, Keith and his learners warm up through the winter with an artic-centred theme.

It makes a lot of sense to look at arctic animals and habitats in the middle of winter, particularly in a country like Bulgaria which gets its share of sub-zero temperatures and plenty of snow to boot!

Can you waddle like a penguin?

Though we have a circle time routine with every group, it’s always a good idea to have a ‘warm-up’ activity to get everyone in the mood for the topic to come. An example warm-up for the arctic theme is a penguin waddling race, where the children are split into two groups and they have to waddle between two lines and back again in a relay. Great fun!

Penguins and walruses

I love to get the children doing arts and crafts activities for all of the topics we cover and there are plenty of opportunities with an arctic theme. Penguins make great puppets which the children love to play with. We also made paper-bag walruses and created a special corner in the classroom for all of our arctic animal creations.

Arctic habitats

Part of the art work involved the children preparing a 3D arctic scene. They started by painting the ice and the cold waters, then they added cotton wool snow to complete the scene, before adding their chosen animals to their habitats.

Where’s the arctic?

We looked at a map of the world with the children and talked about where our latest theme is located. The children located the coldest places on the planet and we placed some animals in these areas. We were able to recycle these animals for a number of activities.

Sorting animals

When exploring an arctic theme, a useful sorting activity is to arrange animals, usually using colour flash cards, into three groups stuck on the white board. We had animals which live in water, animals which live on land and animals which live both in water and on land. Sometimes we did this as a race but more frequently we did this as a game of ’fish’ where the children had to pair up the animals and place them in the correct habitat.

Ice science

We can learn a lot about science from a chunk of ice. It’s interesting to talk to children about the different states that water can take depending on the different conditions it’s found in. We asked the children to make predictions about what would happen to the ice if we changed the conditions, for example by putting it into bowls with water at different temperatures. The children observed the changes to the ice as they carried out their experiment.

Wax snow scenes

Our arctic art theme continued with some wonderful ice and snow pictures, created using wax and paint. The children drew pictures with wax crayons, then brushed over their drawings with blue paint. Everyone loved seeing their pictures appear under the ice-cold snow and rain!

Lastly, we had some more artistic fun by letting the children get their hands into ’snow’ paint and create their own arctic scenes on a large tray, using only their hands and fingers.

It’s amazing what you can create with just a blob of paint and your hands!

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