Most of my students have been exposed to many different animals over the years. What they don't understand is how those animals compare to them. To help give them a better sense of comparison, we made polar bear paw prints and placed our foot print on top of them. For this part, students had to request the needed materials to assemble the polar bear paw while talking about and labeling the parts of the paw (toes, claws, etc.). We got to sneak in some extra math as they counted out the toes and claws. Finally, students predicted who would have the bigger foot- the polar bear or the students. Guess what.... none of them thought their foot would be smaller!
Once students had finished assembling their paws, they had to take off their socks and shoes and get their foot painted.
They were shocked to see that the polar bear foot was bigger than theirs!
The other activity we did to build background knowledge was to mock up ice fishing. We talked about how you would get through the ice, how cold it would be staying out there waiting for fish to bite, etc. Then we went "fishing" for math facts.
Some of them had a really hard time maneuvering the pole to get a fish and bring it up through the hole. We worked on using two hands together to make the pole more steady and straight. It was harder than I expected!!
Once they got their fish out, they had to write the problem on the white board and figure out the answer. These fish are a freebie over at Marsh McGuire's TPT store. There are addition and subtraction fish, so the students had to decide which type of problem it was and write it in the correct column.
They had a ball and when it was over, they had practiced a lot of math! Win!!
To make these activities more manageable, we split the class in half so there was a small group at each activity. It worked really well. Students were able to get multiple turns and hands on opportunities and we were able to have more staff at the polar bear table. I would definitely recommend extra hands when you paint the bottoms of their feet!!
Get more materials and ideas for your polar unit by clicking the picture. It includes TONS of visuals and leveled activities to help all of our students learn.