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a kindergarten journey to Antartica
A Journey To Antarctica
28 Jan, 2018. 2 Comments. A Day In First Grade, First Grade Science, Kindergarten, Kindergarten Science, Reggio Inspired, Science, STEM. Posted By: Kristen Smith

a hands-on, engaging kindergarten unit on Antarctica

I don’t know about you, but every now and again, I like to switch up my “typical” units.  Even though I love teaching them, for me, a new unit breathes life into my planning and allows us to explore new centers, experiments, and activities. This year, instead of studying Arctic animals, like we have for the past few years, I decided that I would create a new unit focusing on Antarctica. I am SO glad that I did! My students are BEYOND excited about this new unit and so am I!! I have learned so much in my planning and prep for this unit and am simply fascinated by the animals that live there!

To begin our unit, I told my students that we would be embarking on a journey to a new place: Antarctica. I asked them what they knew about Antarctica and what they would like to learn. They were full of ideas and SUPER excited to embark upon our journey. I set up rows of chairs and gave each of my students boarding passes to board our plane and we watched this video:

By the end of the video, my students were SOOOOO EXCITED they could hardly contain their excitement. We talked about what we would need to pack to go to Antarctica and they came up with some fabulous ideas. I then told them that they were going to have to pack their suitcases to get ready for our trip and passed out two recording pages. One page had a suitcase and the other had objects that they might want to bring with them. Each child got to choose what they wanted to bring and got to work coloring and cutting and packing for our trip.

a hands-on, engaging kindergarten unit on Antarctica

The conversations during this were fabulous. My young learners discussed why they were coloring each item and dialogued with their peers about whether or not they should bring certain things.

a hands-on, engaging kindergarten unit on Antarctica

They worked dillgently and carefully and were so proud to hang up their work on our bulletin board.

a hands-on, engaging kindergarten unit on Antarctica

a hands-on, engaging kindergarten unit on Antarctica

My students asked me if we could change our dramatic play center into an airplane so while they were at specials, I put up white bulletin board paper with window cutouts and an “exit door.” This week we will paint scenery to put behind the windows as if when we were on the plane we were looking out at Antarctica.

My students were beyond excited to board the plane that afternoon. Nearly every student played at the center.

a hands-on, engaging kindergarten unit on Antarctica -- students asked if we could transform our dramatic play center into an airplane that would fly them to Antarctica!

During exploration centers, my students created passports, signs, books about Antarctica, and took their suitcases off of our bulletin board to prepare for their flight. (They were on clips.)

Kindergarten students create signs to go along with a unit on Antarctica

The pilot made sure he knew the route to take.

A hands-on, engaging kindergarten unit on Antarctica. This student drew a map to make sure he could fly a plane to Antarctica!

And the passengers boarded the plane.

Kindergarten students board a plane to go to Antarctica during their unit studying the continent!

Once they landed in Antarctica, there was much exploring to be done!

I added ice cubes and water to our sensory table. To get the different shades of blue, I used different shades of food coloring to the ice and water and placed mirrors under the table so my students could see the water and glaciers from different perspectives.

An Antarctica sensory table-- table is filled with ice cubes, different shades of blue food coloring, and plastic Antarctic animals

Next to the table I added some books, plastic animals, and exploration hats for my students to use while playing “in Antarctica.”

Montessori inspired Antarctica shelf

Kindergarten students explore an Antarctica sensory table Kindergarten students explore an Antarctica sensory table

My students had a blast “exploring Antartica” at this exploration center.

Kindergarten students explore an Antarctica sensory table

The next day, we began to learn more about the topographical features of Antarctica. To make this lesson come to life, we created maps of Antartica.

Creating topographical maps of Antarctica in a kindergarten classroom

For this, I printed out the maps from my Antarctica unit onto two different colored pieces of cardstock. My students pokey pinned out the continent from the white piece of paper and then glued it onto the blue piece of paper.

Kindergarten students create topographical maps of Antarctica during their unit.

This took much perseverance!

Kindergarten students create topographical maps of Antarctica during their unit.

After they glued the white continent onto the blue paper, they traced the word “Antarctica” using a gold, silver, or black Sharpie.

Kindergarten students create topographical maps of Antarctica during their unit.

Kindergarten students create topographical maps of Antarctica during their unit.

Finally, they added the mountains to their continent out of a mixture of shaving cream and Elmer’s glue.

Kindergarten students create topographical maps of Antarctica during their unit.

They worked so hard on this project and were very proud of how they came out!

Kindergarten students create topographical maps of Antarctica during their unit.

They are currently being displayed in our hallway.

Our unit is just beginning! This upcoming week we will begin to learn about the animals of Antarctica. My students are so very excited and I can’t wait to share with you how this unit unfolds! If you would like the fully written out 5-E lesson plans, pictures, and activities, check out my Antarctica unit available on Teachers Pay Teachers. Follow me on Instagram to see more of our day to day activities and to watch my Insta stories to see some “behind the scenes” videos of this unit in action.

This packet is available here: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Exploring-Antarctica-3609934

a day in first grade-15

I hope you had a great weekend!

 

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2 Comments
  1. Love this blog post about starting your activities about Antarctica! It’s fascinating that you are switching from North Pole to South Pole in your usual science lessons. I’ll be watching for future posts to see how the children are responding and expanding in their inquiries as they learn more. Looks like your group is having an amazing start on their project-based (Reggio) learning.

2 Comments

  • Love this blog post about starting your activities about Antarctica! It’s fascinating that you are switching from North Pole to South Pole in your usual science lessons. I’ll be watching for future posts to see how the children are responding and expanding in their inquiries as they learn more. Looks like your group is having an amazing start on their project-based (Reggio) learning.

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