My wiser-than-me mother-in-law always reminds, “It’s great to have a plan, but know, things probably won’t go according to plan.” And that’s exactly how things played out as we dove into a recent multi-elementary-age science unit.
I’d planned to keep things simple by lumping the Arctic and Antarctic together while teaching my preschooler, kindergartner, 2nd grader, and 4th grader about polar habitats. But, more organically than I could have planned, they began asking questions.
But why don’t polar bears and penguins live in the same place?
To be honest, I wasn’t sure I truly knew the difference between the Arctic and Antarctic myself. But searching for a way for the kids to differentiate helped fill in the gaps of my own learning and gave me renewed perspective about this amazing world we get to live in. The love for learning I’ve discovered during this homeschooling journey has been one of my favorite parts of teaching.
To discover the differences and similarities between the Arctic and Antarctic, we created an interactive hula hoop Venn diagram. Venn diagrams are a great way to organize information in a visual way, and creating a giant one using hula hoops makes it even more fun and interactive! (Besides that, our hoops have seen better days and I’m not sure they’ll hula too well any more.)
First, I skimmed the book, The Top and Bottom of the World to pull out several tidbits and then made simple fact cards about the Arctic and Antarctic. (Lamination may be overkill, but makes them more durable for future use!)
Next, I read the book to the kids. It’s an easy read about the Arctic and Antarctic and includes gorgeous photos of the landscape and wildlife.
Last, I helped the younger ones read and sort the fact cards into the categories embedded in the hula hoops. The older ones worked independently to create their own Venn diagrams with an interactive cut-and-paste Arctic/Antarctic printable.
It was a simple activity, but one that helped clarify things as we completed the rest of our unit study. The littlest one still thinks it’s unfair that polar bears and penguins can never play together, but at least we now know why! I’m thinking this book would be a fun one to use in another (Ant)arctic compare/contrast Venn diagram.
Is your family studying the Arctic or Antarctic this winter? Do you find Venn diagrams a useful tool in your homeschool?
>>Download your free Arctic/Antarctic Venn Diagram Printable.