Polar Theme Day:

Penguins & Polar Bears/ Arctic & Antarctica


Animal lovers will like to explore these chilly critters and science buffs will like the North and South Pole angle.  There is much to learn about life in the Arctic and Antarctica so there is sure to be something to appeal to your family with this Theme Day.


Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.



If you have a globe this is a good opportunity to show your children where the Arctic ocean and the North Pole is located and where Antarctica and the South Pole are situated.  You could also show your children an atlas or look on the internet to see the geography of these two polar regions.



I couldn't think of any Polar inspired songs but if you have any suggestions please let us know at info@familythemedays.ca!




You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “Penguins Coloring pages” or “Polar bears coloring pages” or print out my Penguin and Polar Bear Coloring Page.



Write out one or more of the following questions in the family notebook or on a piece of paper to glue in your family scrapbook:  What do you know about Penguins and Polar bears? What do you know about the arctic and Antarctica? Would you like to visit the arctic or Antarctica?  Why or why not?

 Choose the level of your child:

¨     Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer

¨     Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.

¨     Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.

¨     Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response.  (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not)

¨     Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).

¨     As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a story about  penguins or polar bears or the north or south poles.


Print out my a Polar  Word Search: 

Easy North and South Pole Word Search or Difficult North and South Word Search.

Check here for the answer keys:

Easy North and South Word Search Key or Difficult North and South Word Search Key.



Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books with penguins or polar bears in them.


Go to the library with your child to find some books about penguins or polar bears or the arctic or Antarctica.


Go to the library on your own to find books on about penguins or polar bears or the arctic or Antarctica from both fiction and nonfiction to have already on hand for your theme day.  Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject.  Reserve them if you can to save time.


Here are some of Non-fiction titles about the Arctic or Antarctica:


· Arctic Alphabet: Exploring the North from A to Z, text and photography by Wayne Lynch, Firefly Books, 1999 – Each letter of the alphabet explores one interesting aspect of arctic nature from the Aurora Borealis to zooplankton.


· At the Poles, by Tessa Paul, Crabtree Publishing Company, 1998 – This book has information on different polar animals and is pretty easy to read while still offering a lot of detail.


· The Best Book of Polar Animals, by Christiane Gunzi, Kingfisher, 2002—This is easy to read but still offers a lot of information on various polar animals and what the arctic and Antarctica are like.


· North Pole South Pole, by Nancy Smiler and illustrated by Diane Dawson Hearn, Holiday House, 2002 – A beginning Reader Book (level 2) showing the difference between the poles in text challenging enough for first or second graders.


· Poles Apart: Why Penguins and Polar Bears Will Never be Neighbours, by Elaine Scott, Viking, 2004 – Older kids may enjoy this detailed book about the North and South Pole.


· You Wouldn’t Want to be a Polar Explorer! An Expedition You’d rather Not Go On, written by Jen Green and illustrated by David Antram, Franklin Watts, 2005 – School aged kids should like this book which explains the difficulties of Polar Exploration in the early 1900’s.


For some non-fiction books about polar bears try these titles if you can find them:


· Face to Face with Polar Bears, by Norbert Rosing with Elizabeth Carney, National Geographic, 2007—Norbert Rosing has been face to face with polar bears and shares his experience photographing them in this easy to read yet thorough book.  (NOTE: There is also a Face to Face with Penguins, by Yva Momatiuk and John Eastcott)


· Polar Bears: Arctic Hunters, by Norman Pearl, PowerKids Press, 2009This has big text for early readers and easy to understand facts about polar bears.


· Polar Bears, Penguins, and Other Mysterious Animals of the Extreme Cold, by Ana Maria Rodriguez, Enslow Publishers, Inc., 2012— This book includes an experiment to test he power of blubber in helping these polar animals keep warm.


· Polar Bears, by Gail Gibbons, Holiday House, 2001—This looks like a picture book but is a great book all about polar bears. (NOTE: Gail Gibbons also has one called Penguins!)


For some non-fiction books about penguins see if you can find these titles:


· 100 Things You Should Know About Penguins, by Camilla de la Bedoyere with Consultant Steve Parker, Mason Crest Publishers, 2011—As stated there are 100 facts about penguins here including illustrations and photos.


· Endangered Penguins, by Bobbie Kalman & Robin Johnson, Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007—Easy to read with great photos and enough information to teach your little ones about penguins.


· How Do Penguins Survive the Cold?, by Mary Ann Hoffman, PowerKids Press, 2009—This easy to read book has a good amount of information about penguins for young scholars.


· My Life in the Wild: Penguins, by Meredith Costain and illstarted by Gary Hanna, Discovery Communications, 2011—This is an Animal Planet Life Cycle Book and offers a look at Emperor Penguins from the first person point of view of a penguin.


· Penguins, by Penelope Arlon and Tory Gordon-Harris, Scholastic, 2012—This is a “Scholastic Discover More” book  and offers easy text and lots of information (plus a free digital book) so it is a very thorough book.


Here are some picture books about the North and South Poles:


· Arctic Alphabet: Exploring the North from A to Z, text and photography by Wayne Lynch, Firefly Books, 1999 – Each letter of the alphabet explores one interesting aspect of arctic nature from the Aurora Borealis.


· Polar Opposites, written and illustrated by Erik Brooks, Marshall Cavendish Children, 2010—Wonderfully fun  illustrations are in this book about two friends (a polar bear and a penguin) who are complete opposites who meet somewhere in the middle.


Here are some picture books about Penguins:


· Don’t be Afraid Little Pip, by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jane Chapman, Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2009—Little Pip is a baby penguin who is afraid to swim and would rather fly!


· If You were a Penguin, by Wendell and Florence Minor, Katherine Tegen Books, 2009—I suppose this is more of a nonfiction as it does teach book but it does have simple and rhyming text and lovely paintings of assorted types of penguins.


· Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story, by Salina Yoon, Walker and Company, 2012—This is a beautiful little story about a penguin who befriends a pinecone and their friendship lasts even when they must live far apart.


Here are some picture books about Polar Bears:


· The Biggest Thing in the Worlds, by Kenneth Steven and illustrated by Melanie Mitchell, Lion Children’s Books, 2009—Little Snow Bear goes for a walk with his mother searching for the biggest thing in the world, which of course, as any mother knows, is a parent’s love!


·  The Lonesome Polar bear, by Jane Cabrera, Random House, 2002—This is a sweet story of a lonely little bear , longing for a friend  and the snow cloud who tries to help him.


· Polar Slumber, by Dennis Rockhill, Raven Tree Press, 2006—A little girl makes a polar bear out of snow and then dreams about going on a polar adventure.




NOTE: Icebergs are large free floating pieces of ice.  For more information and some photos check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceberg

NOTE: The Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis are natural light displays in the Arctic and Antarctic skies caused by polar wind.  They dance across the sky and are truly beautiful to behold.  To see some pictures and for more information check here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora_%28astronomy%29

Materials: White paper, watercolour paints in shades of blue and purple for ice or greens like the Aurora Borealis or Australis, white tissue paper, glue stick, facecloth for sticky fingers.

Step 1: Have your child cover an entire sheet of paper with water colours in shades of blues, purples and greens. My son wanted to create pink Aurora Borealis by dabbing his brush like stars on the top of the sheet.  (NOTE: We then sprinkled salt on the paint as I have seen many crafts where the salt spreads out and forms pretty crystal shapes but this didn’t work at all for us. I am not sure what we did wrong.  We even tried two different types of ice).

Step 2: Let the paint dry and then have your child cut out shapes from white tissue paper (ours had lovely sparkles of colours in it). 

Step 3: Have your child glue these pieces of tissue paper to the paper to create ice bergs.  The swirling colours are supposed to represent the aurora and the tissue paper the ice bergs!

Step 4: Let it dry and then display or glue in your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.



Materials: Coloured paper (we choose a light blue for polar water) and stickers of penguins or polar bears or both (I searched high and low for polar bear stickers and didn’t find many—just what we used for the journal entry. Penguin stickers are easier to find).

Step 1: Give your child a sheet of coloured paper and have him/her add the stickers to create either a collage or a scene.

Step 2: (Optional) Encourage your child to add embellishments using markers or crayons. 



Materials: White paper and black paper, white paint, black paint, orange paint, paint brushes, jar of water, art smock or old clothes to wear, newspaper or plastic to cover your work space, wax paper or paint pallet, black marker.


Step 1: On the white paper have your child create little penguins using thumb prints.  Show your child how to make a penguin by pressing your thumb into the black paint (rubbing off excess if necessary) and then pressing the thumb onto the white paper to make fat bodies.  Then use the tip of one finger to make the head.

Step 2: While the black paint dries slightly, have your child wash his/her hands and then repeat the same idea but using white paint on black paper to create polar bears.

Step 3:  Once the black paint is dry have your child press a little finger print of white paint onto the belly of the penguins.

Step 4:  While the white paint dries slightly, have your child was his/her hands and the using paint brushes to add details to the two paintings.  Use orange to paint a beak and feet and a black paint (or a black marker) to add eyes.   To the polar bear add little white ears and a tail and then black eyes and a nose using black paint (or a black marker).

Step 5: Let them dry and then display or glue into your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.


NOTE: My youngest decided he did not want to do fingerprints but wanted to finger paint and create one large painting of a penguin and one large painting of a polar bear.  To see his finger-painting of each animal go to my Facebook More Crafts and Activities Album: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.536331356394349.132868.194379807256174&type=3




Materials:  Empty toilet paper rolls, black paint, white paint, orange or yellow paint, white paper, black paper, black marker, glue stick, child safe scissors, old clothes or art smock to wear to protect clothing, plastic or newspaper to cover the work area.

Step 1: Have your child paint one empty toilet paper roll white and the other black with a white belly.

Step 2: When they are dry your child can paint (or draw using markers) faces on the rolls.  NOTE: My eldest wanted to add a head to his penguin instead of painting directly onto the toilet roll.  He decided to roll up a piece of tin foil and paint that black.

Step 3: You can then cut out additional embellishments to complete the animals.  Add white bear ears and bear paws to the polar bear by gluing or taping simple elongated ovals.  Add elongated black ovals for the penguins wings.  You could also add a orange beak or yellow craft feathers to the penguin.



Materials: A piece of cardboard for each animal, black, white and orange tissue paper cut into squares, a pencil, a paper bowl, white glue, a damp face cloth for sticky fingers, (optional) googly eyes.

Step 1: Have your child draw (or draw for you child) a simple animal shape on the cardboard using the pencil.  Ovals are easiest!

Step 2: Show your child how to gently press and mold a piece of tissue paper around the easer tip of a pencil and then dip this into the white glue.  Then press the glue dipped tissue onto the cardboard and slowly raise the pencil up.  The tissue should stick to the cardboard! This may be tricky for younger children so be sure to help them out!

Step 3: Have your child continue to do this with the various colours to create a 3-D picture of sorts using the appropriate colours.  The polar bear will look fuzzy and the penguin will look feathery!

Step 4: We thought the tissue paper eyes didn’t show up very well so we added googly eyes once the picture was complete.

Step 5: Let it dry and then display!



NOTE: The hearts in this would make this a good pattern for a Valentine’s Day project!

Materials:  Craft foam with the sticker backing in white, black and orange (or you can use regular coloured paper and a glue stick), child safe scissors, , a craft stick, googly eyes, white glue.

Step 1: Cut out a circle from the black and from the white using a bowl or cup as a template (you can draw on the paper backing if you have the craft foam with the sticker backing).  The black circle will become the penguin and the white the polar bear.

Step 2: Help your child cut out a large white heart for the penguin’s face and then have your child stick it onto the black circle.

Step 3: Help your child cut out a small black heart for the polar bear’s nose and have your child stick it on the white circle.

Ste 4: Help Your child cut out a small orange (or yellow) heart for the penguin’s beak and then have your child stick it onto the white heart face.  OPTIONAL: you can cut out two small orange hearts for the penguin’s feet.

Step 5: Have your child glue the googly eyes to the animals by dipping them into white glue.

Step 6: Carefully fold back the paper covering the sticky backing of the foam circle and then place a craft stick onto the circle as a way to hold the puppet.  Fold the paper back over.

Step 7:  Encourage your child to make up a penguin and polar bear story or even to act out a story from a book your got from the library about penguins or polar bears or both.



NOTE: As you probably know if you’ve had one of my Theme Days, I try to make the crafts easy but occasionally I include a more difficult project.  This Penguin Craft is definitely that!  It takes a minimum of 5 days to complete!  We had this Theme Day in time for my Youngest son’s Grade 1 unit on Penguins.  As my eldest had the same teacher for grade 1 I knew the big project my Youngest would have would include making a model to go with his penguin report so I included it in this Theme Day.   My Eldest son made his penguin model out of a dish soap container instead of a balloon and we covered it in Papier-mâché and painted it as directed below.  We used orange craft foam for the feet on that one. 

Materials:  Strips of newspaper (it helps if you cut these ahead of time), white glue and water mixture (half and half) in a paper bowl, an old paint brush, a balloon, another paper bowl to balance the balloon, newspaper or plastic to cover your work space, an art smock or old clothes to wear, dried beans, coloured paints (specifically, black, white, orange and yellow) and paint brushes, black construction paper, other details like craft feathers )if you are making a Macaroni Penguin or Rockhopper Penguin) or googly eyes

Step 1: Blow up a balloon and tie a knot at the end (or use an empty bottle like a pop bottle or a dish soap bottle like my eldest did).

Step 2: Use an old paintbrush to paint the half glue/water mixture over the balloon (or bottle) and then apply strips of newspaper all over.  To make the balloon sturdier you may want to apply more than one layer of newspaper.  This step took us 2 days.  We applied a first layer then rested it on wax paper in a paper bowl and then the next day applied another layer.  You may find some more spots to cover even after that! We found we had to dry the penguin upside down in order to dry the bottom so if you work on the penguin in the morning you can turn him over in the evening to dry the other side.  *NOTE: The papier-mâché mixture we made didn’t dry up in the bowl so we left it uncovered for a few days which enabled us to continue to work on the penguin without making a new batch of glue! Handy!

Step 3: Once the papier-mâché is dry I poked a little hole to pop the balloon and then made the hole big enough to add dried beans.  I squished the base of the balloon down a bit and then added enough beans to keep the balloon stable so it wouldn’t topple over.  I then added another piece of newspaper to cover the hole.

Step 4: Now Your child can paint a layer of white all over.  Again this takes another day to paint and dry! The white layer is not only for the belly but also to further coat and cover the newspaper so it isn’t visible.  I thought we may need two layers but we didn’t. Again we set it in a paper bowl to sit upright and dry.

Step 4: Once the white paint dries your child can now paint the balloon to be either a penguin or a polar bear face.  Have your chid choose the type of penguin he/she wants.  In our case my sons were assigned a certain penguin at school.  By looking at photos from library books and/or pictures online my sons were able to paint their penguins to look like the real ones.

Step 5: Once the black paint dries you can add embellishments. My Eldest son added craft foam feet and yellow feathers to his Macaroni Penguin.  My youngest added googly eyes.  For the base of the balloon penguin I folded a piece of black construction paper and cut out a triangle shape for the back (to bend slightly for the tail) and then cut out toes.  We applied white glue and had the balloon rest on it to dry.




Olive Penguins and White Cheddar Polar Bears:


Note: I found the original recipe for the Olive Penguins on Pinterest  (you can find the original recipe here: http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/2011/12/13/black-olive-penguins/      The only changes I made were using laughing Cow Cheese as the stuffing and not including the green onion scarf.


Ingredients: Penguins: can of colossal pitted olives, small black pitted olives, cream cheese, carrot, toothpick.  Polar Bear: white cheddar (or other type of block white cheese), a mozzarella cheese string, cream cheese, toothpick, a container of black food colouring paste.


Step 1: To make the penguin, slit the large olive and cut out a small portion and then stuff with creamed cheese. 

Step 2: Cut a circle from the carrot for the feet and from that cut a small triangle to be the beak.  Insert the beak in the end of the small olive and then attach all three parts with the toothpick to form the penguin.  Carrot feet on bottom, large olive body and small olive head.

Step 3: To make the polar bear cut a rectangular block of white cheddar for the body and then cut part of the top of a cheese string to be the head.  Attach the head to the body using cream cheese. 

Step 4: Insert a toothpick through the body to use as arms and then attach two more slices of string cheese for the arms.

Step 5:  Enjoy!




Penguin Open Faced Sandwich: (Savoury)


Ingredients:  Bread, cream cheese,  tapenade, carrot or orange cheddar, green pepper or chopped spring onion (the green ends), a slice of carrot (coin slice) cut in half.


Step 1: Toast the bread and spread cream cheese on the middle of the toast leaving space on the side and top.  Spread tapenade on the top and the sides to be the wings.

Step 2: Add a triangle of orange cheese as the beak of the penguin and two green pepper cubes for eyes.  Add the carrot pieces as feet. You could add yellow pepper feathers to be like the Rockhopper or Macaroni penguin etc..


Polar Bear Open Faced Sandwich: (Sweet)


Ingredients:  Bread, cream cheese, 2 banana slices, raisins, almond (if there are nut allergies in your family you could use another raisin).


Step 1: Toast the bread and spread cream cheese on it.

Step 2: Add a banana slice as the first part of the nose and cut another slice in half to be the ears.

Step 3:  Add the almond (or a raisin) to the banana slice as the tip of the nose and then add two more raisins as eyes.



Black Bean Chili with a White Cheddar Penguin:


Make your favourite Black Bean Chili recipe (or search online or in cookbooks to find one) and then use slices of provolone (or other white cheese) to decorate.  Cut out two eyes and a nose for a polar bear and keep the eyes to use as little ears.  Cut out a simple oval body with wings for the penguin and then cut smaller oval from the left over cheese for the belly.  Add two tiny pieces of cheese for the eyes and a small cut of carrot for the beak. 


                           NOTE: I found the idea for the Penguin cut out on Pinterest. Here is the link to the original site: http://www.recipe.com/blogs/cooking/cute-kids-dinner-recipe-chili-penguin/?socsrc=recpin011012chilipenguin




Penguins and Polar bear cupcakes: Make your favourite Chocolate Cupcakes and then use white icing.  Add white melting candy, mints or white gum drops for the bear’s ears, a mini Oreo for the nose and two brown M&M eyes on the polar bear cupcake.  For the Penguin, either use chocolate icing for the wings or cut a chocolate wafer cookie in half.  Then use two M&Ms for the eyes and a yellow or orange gumdrop cut into a triangle for the beak.  You can also cut another gum drop in half to be feet.


Penguin and Polar Bear Cookies: Make circle sugar cookies and decorate similar to the cupcakes.  I hope to make some of these soon. You will be able to see a photo of the cookies on our Facebook More Goodies Album:  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.510290308998454.127299.194379807256174&type=3





GEOGRAPHY: Have your child find the North and South Pole on a globe.




Print out my Arctic vs Antarctic Chart and as a family write some interesting facts about the two locations based on the nonfiction books you’ve read for this Theme Day.




Print out my Penguin vs Polar Bear Chart and as a family write some interesting facts about the two animals based on the nonfiction books you’ve read for this Theme Day.  Note how the two animals are similar and how they are different.




Both penguins and polar bears use Camouflage for different reasons.  Polar bears to blend into their surroundings to hide from their prey which enables them to sneak up and hunt.  Penguins have two colours to blend in when in the water.  Discuss with your child how the colours of these two animals might help them.



For information about Emperor Penguins try here: http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/emperor-penguin/  and for Polar bears try here: http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/polar-bear/

For information on penguins and also about conservation check here: http://animal.discovery.com/birds/penguin/

For lots of information about polar bears check here: http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/about-polar-bears/essentials

For another good animal site check here: http://a-z-animals.com/animals/penguin/  and http://a-z-animals.com/animals/polar-bear/




Q:  What do you call a Polar Bear in the desert?

A:  Lost


Q: Where do penguins keep their money?

A:  In a snow bank.



Who’s there?


Icy who?

Icy a polar bear up ahead.





Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite with polar bears or penguins in them.

For young children try these titles:

· The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! Told from the Cold, CITH Productions, 2010

· Elmo’s World: Penguins and Friends, Sesame Workshop, 2011


For some Polar movies try these:

· The Great Polar Bear Adventure

· Happy feet 1 and 2

· The Little Polar Bear

· Mr Popper’s Penguins

· Surf’s Up


For a non-fiction movie that is truly amazing try this documentary about Emperor Penguins:

· March of the Penguins



Sledding: If you are having this Theme Day in a snowy area go outside and slide and have fun like the Polar Bears and Penguins!



If you are fortunate enough to live near a zoo that has either polar bears or penguins you could visit them as part of your Them Day fun!


Polar Animals

(Penguins from the Calgary Zoo, Alberta, and a polar bear from the San Francisco Zoo, California)

Polar Bear and Penguin Colouring Page

Journaling about the North and South Pole

Aurora and Ice Berg Scene

Penguin and Polar Bear Inspired Foods

PenguinStickers1.jpg StickersPenguin2.jpg

Penguin Sticker Scenes

Penguin Fingerprints

Polar Bear Fingerprints

Polar Bear and Penguin Paper Rolls

Photo: C Wright

Tissue Paper Polar Bear

Tissue Paper Penguin

Polar Bear and Penguin Foam Puppets

Papier-mâché Dish Soap Bottle Penguin

(my Eldest Son’s Grade 1 Project of a Macaroni Penguin)

PolarSnacks.JPG PolarLunch.JPG

PolarThemeDay2013 035.JPG PolarCupcakes.JPG

Polar Printables

Chart1.jpg CompareAnimals.jpg

Papier-mâché Balloon Penguin

 (my Youngest Son’s Grade 1 Project of an Emperor Penguin)

Dive in and learn about polar animals!

(Taronga Zoo, Sydney, Australia)

Photo: C Wright