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.
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.
Advanced Beginners in grade 1 and Beginning-Intermediate ESL students in grades 2-8.
Content Concepts and Skills:
Animal vocabulary; habitats, the food chain.
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
Pictures of a large number of polar animals, books on the polar regions, penguins, polar bears.
- To introduce the polar regions I like to use Martin Bergerís Life In the Polar Regions or a video put out by National Geographic called ""Really Wild Animals: Polar Prowl." I also use individual books on the polar regions: Penguins by Norman Barrett, Polar Bears by Marcia S. Freeeman and Polar Bears by Lesley A. Du Temple. My very favorite polar region book is Usborne's Polar Wildlife by Kamini Khanduri.
- If the text of the books I am using is too difficult for my students, I paraphrase the information using the pictures to develop comprehension of the material.
- Beginning students need to learn the names of the animals, especially those in the Arctic Circle. Have students sort animals according to the Arctic and Antarctic as they practice using animal and habitat names. Divide a sheet of construction paper in half. Have students write "Arctic" and "Antarctic" at the top of the two columns. You can also have students sort the animals in other ways. Their headings might be: Ocean/land; mammal/fish/bird. Have students glue the correct animal pictures in each category. Some animals may fit into both groups. For example, whales can be found in both the Arctic and Antarctic.
- Download the Polar Regions Venn Diagram. Make a large Venn Diagram for your ESL group to use. Cut the sentences in the downloaded file into strips. Give students strips to sort and place in the correct place on the diagram. You can also use a three column chart with the words: Arctic, Antarctic, Both.
- Have students make a food chain. Download Polar Food Chain. Students draw pictures of the animals in the chain. Cut out the strips and fasten them together as you would a paper chain. This project is even more attractive if you print out the strips on colored, heavy stock paper.
- A favorite activity with my students is a report on penguins. Students study the different types of penguins. They choose one type for their report. Have them draw a picture of their penguins coloring the beak, eyes, and markings the correct colors. (This can be done with the help of a penguin outline to guide students in their drawings.) Cut the penguins out and glue them on icebergs.
- Download the Penguin Biography. After students have filled in their information, put the bios next to the penguin pictures on blue paper.
- You can assess what your students learned by using the downloadable Test Your Penguin Knowledge.
- Other resources include Antarctic Theme Unit from abcteach, Printables about penguinsand Antarctic Animals.
- Have your students in Grades 3-8 plan a trip to the Arctic Circle. Download Trip to the Arctic as a frame for student writing.
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.
© 1998-2008 Judie Haynes, www.everythingESL.net