I don’t know where you are right now, but in my neck of the woods it is brrrr- cold! You know what cold weather makes me think of? Snow! And, do you know what snow makes me think of? Polar bears and other amazing arctic animals.
There are lots of wonderful creatures that spend all or part of their year walking across or flying over the arctic tundra. Plus, even more cold-loving creatures inhabit the arctic seas.
Would you and your students like to see some of the amazing animals?
Don’t worry, you won’t need to pack your snow suit and winter boots. You can view and learn about arctic animals right from the comfort of your classroom (or home). Just check out these great arctic animal webcams, videos, and other resources that I’ve found.
But before we get started, maybe you’re wondering, exactly what is an arctic animal? Do they only live in the arctic region near the North Pole? What about Antarctica? It is cold there, too. Penguins live in Antarctica but often come to mind when we are teaching about cold climate animals!
I had some of these questions also. When I decided to investigate, here’s what I learned.
The Bracing Biomes of the North and South Poles
The area around the arctic circle is a tundra biome, specifically an arctic tundra one. Those cold areas above the tree line of high altitude locations like the Rocky Mountains are tundras too. But those mountaintop regions are alpine tundra ecosystems. If you’d like to learn more, the Kids Do Ecology website has some great information about tundra biomes and a printable crossword puzzle too.
Antarctica also has tundra zones. But that’s not the only biome found in the earth’s southern frigid zone. In fact, much of Antarctica is a cold or polar desert. Areas near the seas of Antarctica have a few plants but they don’t grow very big. Most animals in this region stay in or near the water to find food. Explaining the regions on her polar soils blog, biologist Dr. Becky says, that the Antarctic tundra “is not as diverse or complex as the Arctic tundra.”
Now, let’s head back north. Despite being very cold, the arctic region surrounding the North Pole is home to many different animals. Predators and prey, furry, feathered, or finned, there are a lot of arctic animals to discover.
Are you ready to take a look?
Where to View the Amazing Animals of the Arctic
A few years ago when I began researching places to view animals online, many of the webcam streams that I found were hosted by individual websites. When I went to visit a few of my old favorites, I found that the videos had been moved. Not to worry though, you can still find awesome videos of animals in zoos and in the wild. Several websites have been created solely for the purpose of hosting live and recorded web streams. The change in delivery just means you have fewer websites to visit when you want to see wildlife.
Here’s what I found when I went looking for animal webcams this time around:
- Explore.org has a huge selection of videos. The website hosts the Audubon Society’s video collection along with those of several other big wildlife names. Here’s link to watch a polar bear family. The animals sometimes migrate out of camera range, in which case, you may find a highlight video instead of a live stream. There are a lot of great live cams to choose from at this site.
- The Vancouver Aquarium lets you keep an eye on their sea otters underwater and above. The aquarium has a penguin cam too. To see some cool whale data, visit the Orca Live Community This site keeps a camera aimed at the water in case a whale pops up and also lets you listen to recorded whale calls. Amazing!
If you are interested in one of my favorite Arctic Animals…… The Arctic Fox you may want to check out this close reading activity I created for my students. It is full of beautiful photos and nonfiction text. You can see it by clicking on the picture of the Arctic Fox. Or you can click here: Arctic Animals Nonfiction Close Reading for the Arctic Fox.
More Resources About the Arctic and Its Amazing Animals
There are lots of other interesting arctic animals that you can view online. While you might not always be able to find a live streaming video of these cold climate critters, Arkive.org has videos and information about animals and habitats from all over the world. When you combine the selections from the Arkive and Explore websites, you can view moose and musk ox, reindeer, ermine, snowshoe and arctic hares, and arctic and red foxes. Birds of the arctic include terns, puffins, penguins, and owls.
Here are a few more great resources to add to your cold climate collection:
At Wonderopolis.org, you can learn how arctic animals survive. You’ll find beautiful images and useful information at Discovering Antarctica. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has prepared a special collection of resources just for educators all about the arctic and Alaska’s wildlife refuge. And, the World Wildlife Federation has a section dedicated to sharing information about the polar regions of the world. I especially like this Sense of the Refuge Booklet it can be printed out to use in the classroom.
After you’ve finished studying the arctic online, be sure to try out some of the hands-on projects about cold and snow that you’ll find right here at Science is for Kids.