Changes in the Arctic Ecosystem

Changes in the Arctic Ecosystem lesson plan

The Earth’s ecosystem—including the Arctic—is very fragile, and polar bears are among many creatures and plants that face an uncertain future. Discover more about how these magnificent creatures may be affected.

  • 1.

    Find out why polar bears’ future may be threatened by changes in the Earth’s climate. Do research about a variety of perspectives on the issue. Locate the polar bears’ habitat on a map. For magnificent animal photographs, locate resources such as The Last Polar Bear: Facing the Truth of a Warming World by Steven Kazlowski.

  • 2.

    Use your knowledge to depict polar bears in their natural habitat. This Arctic scene, which might make a great science fair project, is made with recycled items so it is even more Earth friendly. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • 3.

    With Crayola Model Magic® compound, cover a cardboard base to look like snow. Place a recycled plastic container on the base. Mold a dome of modeling material over it to look like an igloo, the traditional home of native people living in the Arctic. Attach a small tunnel as an entrance. With a modeling tool, press gently into the compound to draw ice blocks on the outside of the igloo. Use Model Magic pieces and Crayola Glitter Glue to embellish the igloo in the sparkling snow. Air-dry the glue.

  • 4.

    To make polar bears, shape Model Magic ovals for their bodies and heads. Press them together and smooth the seam. Add legs made with short, thick rolls of compound. Bend them for a realistic look. Shape tiny, rounded ears. Attach the pieces to the body and head. Use a contrasting color to shape eyes, ears, a nose, and mouth. Place the polar bears in the scene. Give them a few sparkles with Glitter Glue, too. Air-dry your scene at least 24 hours before handling.

  • 5.

    Display your polar sculpture and orally present information about the effects of the Earth’s warming climate on polar bears.


  • Students investigate the current status of the polar bear with regard to changing global climate conditions.
  • Students sculpt realistic polar bears in their natural habitat.
  • Students explain how polar bears are affected by changes in the Earth’s ecosystem.


  • Research the history of igloos. How are igloos insulated? What are the differences between the three types of igloos? Build an authentic replica igloo with blocks of Model Magic compound.
  • Find out about other polar wildlife and plants that are affected by climate change. What can humans do to reduce our carbon footprint?
  • Read Winter Woes by Marty Kelley. Talk about how weather affects humans. What can people do in cold weather to lift their spirits?
  • Assessment. Did students gather accurate information about the current status of polar bears? Can they locate polar bear habitats on a world map? Do sculptures accurately depict polar bears in their natural surroundings? Were recycled materials used to make a more Earth-friendly project?