There are many things that make polar bears fascinating – their colour, their size and their decreasing population. So we thought this was a
great excuse to think about polar bears in a bit more detail and use this as an excuse for a home activity for kids.

Obviously we can layer up with coats and scarves when the weather is cold outside – but what do polar bears do to survive in the cold?

Here is a simple experiment which you can do with the kids at home. No special equipment is required – I sourced everything from my kitchen or the local supermarket.

The basic learning is a better understanding of how animals stay warm. This is a very simple way to mimic the effect of blubber in animals like polar bears. However, you can make this as simple or as complex as you like – depending upon your children.

What you need

You will need a bowl, ice, lard (butter or some other fat will do) and a plastic glove like the type you get in a home hair colouring kit.

1. Use some ice, and water if you need, to create your frozen environment in a bowl

2. Carefully feel the temperature of the ice/water to establish how cold it is

3. Cover the hand with whatever fat you are using.

Top tip – If you want to save yourself a big job cleaning the fat off little hands, you might want to use the plastic glove next to the skin and put the fat on the glove.

4. You can then either cover the hand with the plastic glove or simply insert the covered hand into the water/ice. I chose to cover the whole hand with cling film but you could also use a clear freezer bag if that is handy. It just saves the fat and water getting too messy.

My daughter immediately recognised the difference in temperature and was able to understand that the fat had made the difference.

We talked about blubber and how that keeps animals warm. To be honest, we mostly laughed about blubber being a funny word.

Do your research

If you get time before, do a quick search on the internet for some videos. You don’t just need to stick to this, talk around the subject. We have put some references below but there are lots of options. Most importantly, have fun.

What other animals live in the North Pole?
Where do penguins live?
In addition to blubber, what else do animals use to stay warm?
What do polar bears eat?

The possibilities are endless…