Where Do Polar Bears Live? by Sarah Thomson

Teacher Guide by Ashley Trudeau

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Where do Polar Bears Live Lesson Plans

Student Activities for Where Do Polar Bears Live? Include:

Where Do Polar Bears Live? by Sarah Thomson is a great reference book for children learning about polar bears and the Arctic. With a somewhat fiction feel, this book entices the reader with illustrations and many facts about polar bears and their cubs. Students will learn about these fascinating creatures and also about the future of the Arctic and its inhabitants.

Where Do Polar Bears Live? Lesson Plans, Student Activities and Graphic Organizers

Where Do Polar Bears Live? Vocabulary

Copy Assignment

A great way to engage your students is by creating a storyboard that uses vocabulary from Where Do Polar Bears Live? In this activity, students demonstrate their understanding of vocabulary words using sentences and corresponding images. Students may be provided the vocabulary words, or they can use words that they have discovered through their reading of the text. The sentences and images validate both their understanding of the word and how it was used in context of the story.

Here are a few vocabulary words commonly taught with the story and an example of a visual vocabulary board.

  • tundra
  • den
  • lemming
  • cub
  • Arctic
  • survive
  • fierce
  • extinct
  • blubber

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Assignment", change the description of the assignment in your Dashboard.)

Student Instructions

Demonstrate your understanding of the vocabulary words in Where Do Polar Bears Live? by creating visualizations.

  1. Choose three vocabulary words from the text and type them in the title boxes.
  2. Find the definition in a print or online dictionary.
  3. Write a sentence that uses the vocabulary word.
  4. Illustrate the meaning of the word in the cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
    • Alternatively, use Photos for Class to show the meaning of the words with the search bar.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Copy Assignment

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Arctic Animals

Where Do Polar Lives? mentions other arctic animals other than polar bears. Students can chose these animals or any other arctic animal and write interesting facts about them. The Frayer Model works really well for exactly four facts. Have students use the traditional or spider map layouts for more or fewer facts.

Arctic Fox

The arctic fox is covered with thick white fur during the winter and grey-brownish fur during the summer. Seasonal variations in the color of the fur ensure camouflage.

Bearded Seal

The bearded seal gets its name from its thick, light-colored whiskers, which resemble a beard.


Walruses are cinnamon brown in color. They are able to turn their hind flippers forward to aid in movement on land.


Lemmings do not hibernate, they endure the tough Arctic winters. The lemming has special protection from the cold from its thick fur.

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Polar Bear Facts from Where Do Polar Bears Live?

Where Do Polar Bears Live? shares many interesting facts about polar bears. Students will compile these facts and illustrate them using in a storyboard. For an added touch, students can compile more facts using other books or the Internet.

Example Polar Bear Facts

  1. "When this polar bear cub is full grown, he will be the biggest hunter on land. If he stood on his hind legs, his head would brush the ceiling of your living room."

  2. "He will weigh as much as three tigers."

  3. "Polar bears get too hot more easily than they get too cold. They stretch out on the ice to cool off."

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Polar Bear Growth in Where Do Polar Bears Live?

Using the timeline storyboard, students can create a growth chart of a baby polar bear. The book gives specific information about the growth of the cub but you could also have your students research the life of a polar bear cub and combine the information into a concise timeline.

Before Birth

Mother polar bear makes a den to prepare for the birth of her cub.


Cubs are born between fall and winter in the den. They are small, about the size of a guinea pig, and blind. They stay in the den to stay safe and grow.


Emerge from den in late March or April. The cub is the size of a cocker spaniel. The cub plays and learns with his mom. She teaches him how to play and hunt.

Young Adult

At age two or a little older, the cub is deemed old enough and is left to live on its own. The mama polar bear prepares for a new baby.

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Save the Arctic Poster or PSA

Besides learning facts about polar bears, another take-away from the book is that the arctic ice is shrinking because the earth has gotten warmer. This could harm the polar bears and possibly make the species extinct. To make children aware of the severity of this, they could research ways to save the Arctic or why the Arctic needs saving. Then the students could make a poster or public service announcement about saving the Arctic on Storyboard That.

Example Save the Arctic Poster


"Every summer, some of the ice around the Arctic melts. Every winter, it freezes again. But in the last hundred years, the earth has gotten warmer. A little more ice melts each summer. Each winter, the water is slower to freeze back into ice."

"This polar bear is a fierce, smart hunter. But he cannot survive with no place to hunt. Without ice, polar bears will become extinct-gone forever. If the ice doesn't stop shrinking, he may be the last polar bear."

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Quick Synopsis of Where Do Polar Bears Live?

Where Do Polar Bears Live? by Sarah Thomson is a great informational text that introduces polar bears and the Arctic. There is loads of information on polar bears including: where they live, what they eat, and how they grow. The author relays a message that is very crucial for young readers to understand. She tells about how each year the Earth has gotten warmer and more ice is melting in the Arctic. Without the ice, polar bears are having a hard time surviving (a lot of arctic animals are). She relays this message in a meaningful way and includes information on why the world is getting warmer and what can you do to help it. The book’s illustrations are very captivating and easily engage young readers.

Essential Questions

  1. Why are the polar bears in danger?
  2. What can you do to help save the Arctic and the polar bears?

Image Attributions

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•   (English) Where Do Polar Bears Live?   •   (Español) ¿Dónde Viven los Osos Polares?   •   (Français) Où Vivent les Ours Polaires?   •   (Deutsch) Wo Leben Eisbären?   •   (Italiana) Dove Orsi Polari dal Vivo?   •   (Nederlands) Waar Moet Polar Bears Live?   •   (Português) Onde Vivem os Ursos Polares?   •   (עברית) איפה דובי קוטב חיים?   •   (العَرَبِيَّة) أين الدببة القطبية لايف؟   •   (हिन्दी) ध्रुवीय भालू कहाँ रहते हैं?   •   (ру́сский язы́к) Где Живут Белые Медведи?   •   (Dansk) Hvor Må Isbjørne Live?   •   (Svenska) Var ska Isbjörnar Live?   •   (Suomi) Mistä Jääkarhut Live?   •   (Norsk) Hvor får Polar Bears Live?   •   (Türkçe) Kutup Ayıları Nerede Yaşıyor?   •   (Polski) Gdzie Mieszkają Polarne Mioty?   •   (Româna) În Cazul în Care se Polar Bears Live?   •   (Ceština) Kde nás Polární Medvědi Live?   •   (Slovenský) Kde Žijú Polárne Medvede?   •   (Magyar) Hol Polar Bears Élő?   •   (Hrvatski) Gdje Žive Polarni Medvjedi?   •   (български) Къде Живеят Полярните Мечки?   •   (Lietuvos) Kur Polar Bears Live?   •   (Slovenščina) Kam Polar Bears Živo?   •   (Latvijas) Kur Polar Bears Live?   •   (eesti) Kust Polar Bears Live?