Take your students on an exciting journey to the remote continent of Antarctica and uncover its mysterious past and uncertain future. With its dramatic topography and fascinating wildlife, this study unit has something for every student.
Step 1: Exploration
Although the human exploration of Antarctica is relatively new compared to the rest of the world, it has been filled with adventure.
- Introduce the early explorers and their role in Antarctic exploration to your students. Have students create a timeline. Don’t forget the voyage of Belgica!
- Discuss current exploration and international research stations.
Free download: Use this timeline of early exploration of Antarctica to help you get started.
Step 2: Features
Study the climate, landscape, and oceans surrounding Antarctica.
- Discuss temperature variations within Antarctica and its geographic regions.
- Study the current and changing climate conditions.
- Ice experiment: Record the temperature of ice in three stages.
- Introduce the purpose and use of a thermometer.
- Measure temperature of water before, while, and after it freezes. Record the results and graph them.
Free download: Antarctica: Physical Features: Climate. This article from The 7 Continents: Antarctica presents information about the three distinct climate regions on the continent.
Step 3: Research
Instruct students to build their own research report on a topic of Antarctica that interests them, such as: exploration, weather, wildlife, research stations, or ice.
- Create your own cyber hunt for students online with symbaloo. This site allows teachers to create an online research page using multiple sources and limits students in their research to specific websites (approved by the teacher). You may also search for educational sites related to your research that others have posted.
For an in-depth study of Antarctica and its history, features, and wildlife, check out The 7 Continents: Antarctica, grades 4–6.
For more winter report ideas read Steps to Create a Penguin Unit for Grades 1–4.
Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.