Play Like Polar Bears

In honor of World Polar Bear Day on February 27th, this month’s activity calendar features these sweet ways kids can learn about, move and play like polar bears!  

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The Guide

Learn about polar bears.

Polar bears are amazing creatures! The largest species of bear on earth, they are perfectly adapted to survive and thrive in the coldest parts of our planet. Watch a video from National Geographic Kids to learn more about these Arctic friends!

Glacier play.

Though polar bears are excellent swimmers, they prefer to spend their days on top of the ice that covers the Arctic seas most of the year. The sea ice provides polar bears with a platform for them to hunt, live, breed, and create dens. 
To create a frozen playspace for polar bear play, freeze a sheet of ice on a cookie sheet. Then, invite kids to use objects from nature or from around the home as pretend polar bears, moving, hunting and playing on top of the icy sea.
To explore the movement of glaciers, freeze water in a cake or pie tin or yogurt container and place the ice chunks in a bin or large bowl of water. Experiment with using fingers, tools and even breathe to move the ice across the water. Use objects from nature as pretend polar bears. How do the polar bears dive into and out of the water from their frozen platform?

Follow the scent.

Polar bears have an amazing sense of smell and can sniff out a seal on the ice up to 20 miles away! They can even smell prey under snow and up to a half a mile underwater! Hide bundles of cinnamon sticks or other herbs around your outdoor space for kids to sniff out and discover. Try out our Follow Your Nose DIY for more ways to explore scent through play. 

Roll in the snow.

Polar bears roll in the snow to keep themselves clean and to preserve the insulating properties of their fur. Rolling in the snow also helps cool them off when they get too hot. If you have snow, take a snow bath by rolling back and forth on your back. What shapes can your child make in the snow with their body? Kids can also walk on all fours to make polar bear “tracks”. Don't have snow? Place a white or light-colored bed sheet on the ground and enjoy a good roll (bonus: rolling on the ground is also a super way to stimulate kids’ vestibular and proprioceptive systems)!

Cozy den.

Polar bears sometimes create dens for their young by digging into snow banks. Try out our secret hideaway DIY to turn a blanket or bed sheet into a cozy den for a polar bear. If you have snow, try out our Build a Snow House DIY to make a cozy, frozen space for imaginative play.

Be a Water Protector.

Polar bears need our help! As a family, talk about how you can help protect oceans and habitats for polar bears and other creatures. Try our Cut Out Plastic or One Bag of Trash DIYs or try some of these simple ways kids and their grown-ups can take action to conserve water in their homes and make a positive impact on water supply in their community.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Polar bears are super creature teachers for persistence, grit and adaptability. When kids play and move like other creatures, they activate their creativity and imagination while also building empathy and a deeper connection to animals. 

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