Lessons & Units :: Where Do Polar Bears Live? Kindergarten Unit

Read-Aloud Lesson: Where Do Polar Bears Live?

Lesson Plan

Where Do Polar Bears Live? | 710L

Where Do Polar Bears Live?
Learning Goal
Identify and recall characteristics that allow polar bears to survive in an extremely cold Arctic environment.
Duration
Part 1: Approximately 20 minutes
 
Part 2: Approximately 10-15 minutes
 
Part 3: Approximately 10-15 minutes
Necessary Materials

Provided:
1. Detailed lesson plan
2. Graphic organizer for guided practice
3. Independent student worksheet

Not Provided:
Where Do Polar Bears Live?
Globe (or map of the world)

 
  1. This lesson is a close reading of the entire text. So it’s important to engage students often, to enhance their learning. Here are two tips:

    •   When you ask the more complex questions from the lesson, ask students to “turn-and-talk” or “buddy-talk” before answering.

    •   Once you are deep into the lesson, instead of asking students every question provided, ask them to share with you what questions they should be asking themselves at that point in the text. This is also a great opportunity to use "turn-and-talk."
       
  2. Suggested teacher language is included in the lesson.

  3. We recommend you read the book once to your students, either the day or morning before teaching the lesson.

  4. This research-based, read-aloud lesson may seem long. Why do students need the lesson to be this way?
 

Part 1: Teacher Modeling and Questioning

 

Write the following student-friendly learning goal on the board, then read the learning goal out loud with the class:

We will be able to explain why polar bears can live where it is really, really cold.

 
Prepare Students for the Lesson
 
Show students where the Arctic is located on a map in relation to where they are located.
 
Transition Students into the Text
 

Teacher says: Imagine living in a place where some days in the winter it is fifty degrees BELOW zero (Fahrenheit)! That is so cold! It is actually like that in the winter time in an area called the Arctic. We are going to read about a kind of bear that lives in the Arctic.

While I read, listen carefully for the characteristics of polar bears that allow them to stay warm and well fed with food in the Arctic. You will need to listen carefully, because there are at least five characteristics of polar bears mentioned in this book that help them survive in the Arctic.

 
Begin reading on page 8. Read out loud until you reach the end of the page, then stop. Page 8 ends with, “The land is white as far as you can see.” Show students the accompanying illustration. If possible, always show students the illustrations on the pages you read throughout the lesson.
1.

Teacher says (models thinking): This page describes a big island in the Arctic area. The picture shows what part of the island looks like. We read that this island is covered with snow. We also read that no trees grow there and nothing has green leaves. The land of the island is white. Everything the book has told us, we also see in the picture.

I know that the land is covered with snow and that there are no trees on the island. From that evidence, or information, in the book, I understand why the land is white for as far as you can see.

 
Read pages 9-13 out loud, then stop. Page 13 ends with, “From October to February, the sun never rose.”
2.
Teacher asks: Where are the mother bear and her cub?
 
Students answer: They are in a den, under the snow.
Read more
3.
Teacher says: We read that outside the den, on some days, it was fifty degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). That is very cold!
4.
Teacher asks: The author tells us that from October to February the sun never rose. That means for a lot of the fall and the winter the sun never rose. If the sun never rose during those months, what was it like outside without the sunlight?
 

Students answer:

  • It was dark.
  • It was cold.
 
Read pages 14-16, then stop. Page 16 ends with, “...this blubber keeps in the heat of the bear’s body.”
5.
Teacher says (models thinking): We learn that the place where the polar bear and her cub live is called the Arctic. Based on what we have read so far, we know the Arctic is a very cold and snowy place. But we read that the cub and his mother are built to survive in the Arctic.
6.
Teacher asks: How many inches will the cub’s white fur grow to be?
 
Students answer: The cub’s white fur will grow to be six inches.
7.
Teacher says: (Use a ruler or your fingers to show students how long six inches equals.) That means his fur is very thick. Imagine how warm you would feel wearing a coat with six inches of fur!
8.
Teacher asks: The bear cub has black skin underneath its fur. What does this black skin do with the heat of the sun?
 
Students answer: It soaks up the heat of the sun.
9.
Teacher asks: Why might an animal like the polar bear, who lives in a very cold place, need to have skin that soaks up the heat of the sun?
 
Students answer: The bear needs to soak up the heat of the sun because he needs to stay warm in the cold Arctic.
10.
Teacher asks: What does the bear have under its skin?
 
Students answer: The bear has a layer of fat.
11.
Teacher asks: What does this fat, or blubber, do with the heat from the bear’s body?
 
Students answer: It keeps in the heat of the bear’s body.
12.

Teacher says: Let’s review these characteristics of the bear we just discussed.

  • We learned that the polar bear has white fur that is six inches thick.
  • We also learned that the polar bear has black skin that soaks up the heat of the sun.
  • Finally, we read that the bear has a layer of fat underneath its skin that keeps in the heat of the bear’s body.
  • This tells me that these characteristics of the bear help it survive the cold weather of the Arctic.
 
Read pages 17-19, then stop. Page 19 ends with, “If the cub gets tired, the mother gives him a ride.”
13.
Teacher asks: How do polar bears keep from slipping on the ice?
 
Students answer: Polar bears have fur between the pads of their paws that keeps them from slipping when they walk across the ice.
 
Read pages 20-25, then stop. Page 25 ends with, “...it will dart away to another hole.”
14.
Teacher asks: What lives under the water in the Arctic?
 

Students answer:

  • Seals live under the water in the Arctic.
  • Fish live under the water in the Arctic.
  • Shrimp live under the water in the Arctic.
  • Crabs live under the water in the Arctic.
15.
Teacher asks: What does a polar bear need to do after leaving her den where she spent months without eating?
 

Students answer:

  • The polar bear needs to hunt.
  • The polar bear needs to eat.
16.
Teacher asks: How does the polar bear find a seal underneath the water?
 
Students answer: She smells a seal’s breathing hole.
 
Read pages 26-27, then stop. Page 27 ends with, “...a mouthful of the meat.”
17.
Teacher asks: What does the bear use to hook the seal after she smells it?
 
Students answer: She uses her sharp claws to hook the seal.
18.
Teacher asks: What does the bear do to the seal after she pulls the seal up onto the ice?
 
Students answer: The bear strips away the seal's skin and blubber.
 
Teacher asks (showing picture on page 27): Look at the picture. What are the polar bears doing?
 
Students answer: The polar bears are eating the seal.
 
Read page 28, then stop. Page 28 ends with, “...they must hunt on the ice.”
19.
Teacher says: The author tells us that polar bears have to eat seals to survive. The other things the bears can eat in the Arctic aren't enough to keep the bears healthy and alive. In order to catch the seals, the bears need to be able to walk and hunt on the ice that covers the water where the seals live.
 
Read the rest of the book out loud, pages 29-35.
20.
Teacher asks: Polar bears need a lot of ice to walk on so that they can hunt the seals underneath the ice. The ice is melting. Since the ice is melting, will it be harder for polar bears to hunt seals? Why or why not?
 
Students answer: It will be harder for polar bears to hunt seals. The bears need to walk on the ice to catch the seals. If the ice the bears need to walk on is melting, hunting seals will be harder.
 

Part 2: Guided Practice and Discussion

 
For this oral lesson, it is suggested to have the completed graphic organizer on the board with the answers concealed. After students provide a correct answer, reveal the corresponding answer on the graphic organizer.
1.
Teacher says: Now that we have finished the book, let’s see if we can identify all of the characteristics of a polar bear that helps it survive in the Arctic. We are going to use a chart to fill in the right answers.
2.
Teacher asks: Which characteristics help the polar bear stay warm in the cold Arctic?
 

Students answer:

  • Thick fur helps the polar bear stay warm.
  • Black skin that soaks up the heat of the sun helps the polar bear stay warm.
  • A layer of fat that keeps in the heat of its body helps the polar bear stay warm.
3.
Teacher asks: Which characteristic helps the polar bear move around the Arctic and not slip on the ice?
 
Students answer: Fur between the pads of its paws keeps the bear from slipping.
Read more
4.
Teacher asks: Which characteristics help the polar bear hunt for food like seals?
 

Students answer:

  • A good sense of smell to smell the seal’s breathing hole helps the polar bear hunt.
  • Sharp claws to hook the seal help the polar bear hunt.
 

After the answers for the graphic organizer have been completed and discussed with the class, ask the following two discussion questions.

 
Teacher asks: Why are polar bears able to survive in the Arctic?
 

Students answer (may vary):

  • They can survive because of their thick fur, black skin, and layer of fat, or blubber.
  • They can survive because of their ability to smell a seal’s air hole.
  • They can survive because of their ability to hunt seals and walk on ice without slipping.
  • They can survive because they can live for months without eating in a den during the coldest part of the year.
 
Teacher asks: What characteristics do polar bears have that people do not have that make polar bears better than people at living naturally in the Arctic?
 
Students answer: Polar bears have thick fur, sharp claws, and fur between the pads of their paws. Humans do not have these characteristics.
 

Part 3: Student Independent Practice

 
Read each question out loud to your students and have each student complete the worksheet independently. For questions 5 A) and 6, you can have students draw their answers, answer orally, or write their answers depending on your students’ progress. If you have them write their answers, you may want to write the word(s) on the board for them to copy.

Texts & Materials

Standards Alignment

(To see all of the ReadWorks lessons aligned to your standards, click here.)

User Comments

Great text materials. I hope to try them soon

I did this read aloud lesson with a group of 6 struggling first graders. It all went very well. I made a large version of the chart on poster board and each student got to write a response on sentence strips. We also did the text set questions - fantastic. Thank you!