I used to do an Arctic Animals Unit in January, but I changed it to a Bears Unit this year…and I have to say, I really loved it.
My six Work Centers are the same for every unit: dramatic play, art, science, math, writing, and listening. The students will do one center each day over two weeks. We do three Work Centers the first week, and three Work Centers the second week. After students complete their one Work Center for the day, they can go to any Free Choice Center they choose.
Dramatic Play Center
I set up the Dramatic Play Center as an arctic wonderland. I have an igloo tent that I use, and we also have ice fishing. I use a white basket, laminated fish with paper clips, and fishing poles with magnets. The students decorate our center with handout snowflakes.
In the Art Center, we paint polar bears with large marshmallows. The students dip their marshmallow in white paint and stamp it inside of a drawn circle and add ears. Next, they use finger prints to add some snow in the background. And finally, the kids use some black paint and a brush to paint on circle eyes, a triangle nose, and a mouth.
The Science Center for my Bears Unit is a game of Memory. We had this game in the hallway storage closet, and the kids LOVE it! We set it up for them, and in their center they only have to place it once. But most groups want to play it over and over again.
In the Math Center, students graph Teddy Grahams. In case you didn’t know (and I didn’t know until I taught Pre-K) Teddy Grahams bears have their hands either up above their heads, or down by their sides.
Each student gets a hand full of Teddy Grahams to place on a graph, and then count and add an X to each box. When they’re done graphing, they get to eat them!
At the Writing Center, students write and illustrate their own bear books. Each student gets their own bear word wall, as shown in the picture to help them. We’ve been working on a lot of literacy elements in whole group time, so the students need to include their name as the author and illustrator, a title on their cover, use several colors for their illustrations, and have words on each page. So all tougher, there’s a cover and three pages.
I wish I had an awesome bear book on CD, but I don’t… 😦 So the kids for this unit listened to a Skippy Jon Jones book. I love these because the author reads her stories in an awesome accent and some of my ELL kids get really into the stories because of the Spanish words.
Free Choice Centers:
After students complete their Work Center for the day, they can choose a Free Choice Center to play in. I switch up the toys for every unit and try to find things that go along with our current unit, or season, to put out for students to play with.
In the Sensory Bin I put sand, some shells, and scoops and diggers. The kids love this center and they liked finding and sorting the shells. (We were doing sorting in math during these weeks, and I LOVED seeing them use those skills during play time!)
At the Free Choice Art Center I had cut outs of bears. This little cutie made a cave for his bear! How awesome and creative of him! He did it all on his own!
We had A LOT of inside days in January because it was too cold to go outside. We did some fun literacy activities with shaving cream and letter practice.
We also practiced fishing for numbers. Students at their tables had a paper with fish and numbers. Each student got a chance to go fishing in our pond. They would catch a fish, identify the number, and students at their desks would use a dobber to stamp the fish on their paper with the same number.
The second week of our Bears Unit, we made these Panda Bears out of hearts (because it’s almost Valentine’s Day!)
I had the paper folded in half, with half of a heart traced on it. All the students had to do was cut and assemble their panda bears.
What do you do to teach arctic animals or bears? Leave a reply below!