Polar Regions

Polar Regions

by Judie Haynes

It's the middle of the school year and your English language learners need to be stimulated and challenged. Add some pizzaz to your ESL curriculum with this unit on the Polar Regions.

Help your ELLs develop vocabulary and teach them to use higher level thinking skills through a unit on the Polar Regions. This unit appeals to a wide range of grade levels, ages, and English language abilities.

Some of the beginning ESL students will only study the animals around Antarctica. They will concentrate on the food chain and penguins. At the same time an Intermediate Grade 1-3 ESL group will make a more intensive study of both the Arctic and Antarctic Regions. They'll study the animals that live in both regions and make comparisons of the regions.

Grade 3-8 students will make a more intensive study of animals and people of both regions. They'll learn how people and animals survive during the long cold winter. They'll also study the seasons and how the rotation of the Earth affects the weather.

Grade 5-8 students will practice their internet skills by researching a polar animals. This research will be organized into a web and a report written.

Unit Overview

This unit is cross-curricular and covers a wide range of skills. In order to get a picture of the activities included in the unit, see Polar Region Web.

Proficiency/Grade Level:

Advanced Beginners in grade 1 and Beginning-Intermediate ESL students in grades 2-8.

Content Concepts and Skills:

Animal vocabulary; habitats, the food chain.

Vocabulary needed:

Animal vocabulary for the Polar Regions: Arctic, Antarctic, seal, polar bear, snowy owl, walrus, musk ox, caribou, arctic hare, penguins, arctic fox, tern, krill, whales, migration, insulation, hibernation, tundra, pack ice

Materials Needed:

Pictures of a large number of polar animals, books on the polar regions, penguins, polar bears.

Instructional Sequence:

Bulletin Board Suggestion

Make a large class mural. Divide a sheet of white art paper into Arctic and Antarctic. Using the books read during your unit, have students draw pictures and write short paragraphs about each region.


Find even more activities and ideas from one of these bibliographies

Download our Animal Bibliography.

Get lots of ideas from our Polar Regions Web Bibliography.

Activity Downloads

Note: To view the classroom activities, you must have Acrobat Reader intalled. Acrobat is a free application available from Adobe Systems.

PDF filePolar Unit Bibliography (10k .PDF)

PDF filePolar Region Web (4k .PDF)

PDF filePenguin Pages (4k .PDF)

PDF filePenguin Biography (2k .PDF)

PDF filePolar Region Venn (6k .PDF)

PDF filePolar Region food chain (2k .PDF)

Related Links

Categorizing & Classifying Animals
A companion piece to 'Amazing Animals,' this lesson is designed to teach English language learners in grades 2-8 about animal classification. It features more downloadable handouts and additional resources.

Resource Picks

Biomes of the World
This website takes students into the different biomes of the world. Explore rainforest, temperate dediduous forests, tundras, grasslands and taigas. Investigate freshwater and marine ecosystems. This site makes a good addition to science units on these topics.

Living Things : Concept Science
This series of eleven books is an excellent introduction to basic concepts about animal classification. Using very simple language, each book clearly develops the basic attributes of nine classifications of animals. There is a quiz at the end of each book along with a few pages of activities.

Life in the Polar Regions
Melvin Berger's Series on animal habitats for Newbridge Educational Publishing is an excellent resource2 for ELLs. Beautiful pictures with short text makes it a favorite.