A Sunshade for the Polar Bear
This lesson plan gives children insight into the impact of climate change on other ecosystems and living beings using the polar bear as an example. Students will begin to understand the role that humans play in creating climate change and, therefore, impacting other life forms.
Time Required: 2 hours
• The children are to learn the correlation between human-made influences and the
• The children are to understand the effects of the climate change on the biodiversity.
• The children are to develop ideas concerning their own actions: "I myself" can change
and bring about something.
1)Icebreaker: The children get nameplates (the easiest way: on crepe tape)
Discussion topic: 'Do you know polar bears, where they live and what they need for a living?'
2)Game: 'Polar bears and seals'
The leader draws a line and divides the children into 2 groups. The children stand at the line facing each other. One group are the polar bears the other group are the seals. When the leader makes a 'True' statement, the polar bears hunt the seals; if they make a 'False' statement the seals hunt the polar bears. Each round, the polar bears or seals caught are counted. The hunting lasts until the leader stops it. It is advisable to do a test round.
3)'Search for the polar bear':
The leader asks the children to search together with him for one of the animals getting rarer and rarer. After a while they find the polar bear hiding under a sunshade.
4) Because the little polar bear has been waiting for the children a long time, he is very hungry. So he must eat something before he can tell why he is there!
Game: 'Hunting at the ice hole' (indoors):
One child plays the role of the polar bear (costume), all the other children are the seals. The seals lie on the floor at a distance of 10 meters from the polar bear. They must try to crawl and touch the safe ice hole (hula-hoop) before they are eaten (tagged) by the polar bear. The polar bear must hunt on all fours holding one hand to his nose. (Note: polar bears have learned to cover their noses while they hunt so their white fur allows them to be completely camoflauged.) The one who is first 'eaten' by the polar bear is the a polar bear in the next round.
'How far did the ice melt?' (outdoors):
A finish-line is drawn (behind it is the safe ice hole). One child plays the polar bear, the other children the seals. The seals run after the polar bear and ask him: “How far did the ice melt?” The polar bear answers: "Far / very far / too far to reach you'
The seals continue to run after the polar bear and ask about the ice, until he roars: “So little that I can eat you!”, then he turns around and tries to catch a seal.
The seals then try to reach the safe ice hole. The one who is caught will be a polar in the next round.
5) The little polar bear explains his problem (the leader speaks with the glove puppet or for the polar bear): The polar bear explains why he has always had a sunshade: A couple of years ago the ice at the North Pole has been melting more and more and earlier in the year. Therefore he tries to protect himself and the ice against the sun. He notices, however, that he has no success. Thus he and his parents have got less time to hunt and to get a protecting layer of fat. But they need this thick layer of fat to survive the summer when there is a short supply of food. In older times his parents and grandparents were much fatter. To imagine the ice melting, the children can play 'Melting of the ice floe'.
6) Game: 'Melting of the ice floe'
All children are dressed in polar bear costumes (if available) and stand on an area out of many ice floes. The polar bear explains that they are on pack ice – a joined area of ice. The ice packs, the polar bear says, have become smaller and smaller for about 20 years because the temperature is rising more and more because of climate change. He wants to play a game together with them so that they better understand.
The polar bear begins: 'In the year 1987, all floes are lying out.' He then describes how time goes by, and takes, in intervals, 1-3 floes under the children’s feet away. The children must move closer together and finally must hold each other, so that nobody 'falls' into the water.
After that the pressure of competition which the polar bears have to endure is compared to the changes during the game. The children understand that the narrowness can lead to disadvantages and problems.
7) Leader and children think together about the cause of the melting of the ice.
Polar bear: 'I don’t do anything different from before. My grandparents used to live exactly like I do! What could be the reason for my ice melting more and more? Do you, perhaps, have a different way of life than your grandparents?”
Game: 'The earlier years and today' (cf. picture enclosure 4)
The 'today-cards' have been hidden in the room before. The 'earlier years-cards' are lying uncovered on the floor. One 'earlier years-card' is taken up and the matching 'today-card' must be looked for in the room. When it has been found a new one is taken etc.
After that the pairs are shown and explained. Together the children look for more examples of “in the earlier years and today”: refrigerator – cellar, bike – motorbike, television – books / newspaper, computer – playing,
8) It becomes clear that the children consume more energy than their grandparents and great-grandparents did. But how is energy generated? With the help of the poster of the power plant the children learn that for the most part energy is generated by burning fossil energy sources which releases a lot of climate damaging CO2 (It's important to focus on the smoke from the chimney the poster).
Game to illustrate CO2 damage: A black-grey blanket is laid as tightly as possible over the children sitting on the floor. The blanket symbolizes the emission of CO2 / smoke from the power plant and the subsequent global warming. Under the blanket the temperature rises very quickly! The little polar bear is shocked. Are there no other possibilities?
The children are to find out which devices consume more energy and which consume less. They experiment with the energy meters and try to grade the consumption of the devices in ascending order. The period of time for this test is given by the machine for melting ice (cf. picture enclosure 6). The time is up after the ice is melted.
9) After the ice is melted, it is, of course, much too late for the polar bear. Therefore we must together stop the melting of the ice by saving energy. The polar bear and the children work out tips for saving energy in order to help the polar bears in the North Pole.
- shut the window while the heating is on
- turn off the water while brushing your teeth
- switch off the lights when nobody is in the room.
10) The polar bear thanks the children for their help. In grateful recognition the children get a 'rescuer of the polar bear' badge. The polar bear says goodbye with a goodbye-game and walks back to the North Pole.
'The fastest goodbye-game in the world':
The children form a circle. Each child holds his hands (the palms pointing to the circle) down. Now each child lays his right hand over the left hand of the neighbouring child. The leader begins to clap with his right hand on the neighbouring child’s right hand, looking at the child and saying “goodbye!“. The next child does the same and so on. Because this is to be the fastest goodbye-game of the world, the second round can be timed.
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