Animals of the Arctic

Animals of the Arctic

Grade level            

This lesson plan is designed to be used with students aged 12-15 years.


Using the Internet, students will research an animal native to the Arctic and map its distribution in the four seasons. They will draw their animal in its environment including as many facts about the species as possible. As a class, students will create one master map of each season including the approximate location of each animal.

Time required           

2 class periods (estimated)



1       Review the location of the Arctic Circle with students. Ask students what they know about this area of the world. Remind students that Native people of the Canadian Arctic are Inuit who speak the Inuktitut language.

2       Brainstorm animals that students think live in the Arctic. List on the board or overhead projector. What special adaptations do animals living in this environment need to survive?

3        Have students work in pairs or independently. Explain that students are going to choose an animal native to the Canadian Arctic to research.

4        Give out blank maps. Have students label each one "winter", "spring", "summer", "fall". Explain that they are to indicate on each map where the animal is during the particular season.

5        Explain that, using the indicated website, students will research their animal. Upon returning to the classroom, they will be responsible for drawing their animal in its environment, incorporating as many facts about it into their illustration as possible.

6        Have students choose an animal or randomly assign them.

      • Oceanic birds: long-tailed jaeger, northern fulmar

      • Auks: black guillemot, dovekie

      • Terrestrial mammals: arctic fox, caribou, grizzly bear, muskox, polar bear

      • Ducks and sea ducks: common eider, king eider, oldsquaw

      • Geese and swans: brant, Canada goose, snow goose, tundra swan

      • Gulls and terns: arctic tern, black-legged kittiwake, glaucous gull

      • Loons: pacific loon, red-throated loon

      • Shorebirds: northern phalarope

      • Seals and walrus: bearded seal, harbour seal, harp seal, hooded seal, ringed seal, walrus     

      • Baleen whales: bowhead whale, hump-backed whale

      • Toothed whales: beluga whale, narwhal, north Atlantic bottle nosed whale, sperm whale

7      Using the indicated website, have students research their animal to be used in their class season maps.

      Students also design a symbol for their animal to be used on the class season maps.


Students draw the illustration of their animal in its habitat using the information gathered from their research. Instruct them to include both the English and Inuktitut name at the top and to include as many facts as possible in their scene.

As students complete their posters, have them use their symbol to indicate the location of their animal during each season on the classroom maps. Provide a key where students draw their symbol and the name of the animal it represents.

Have students present their animal to the class. Also, have them point out their animal on the class maps.

Why are some animals only present during particular seasons?


Isuma Publishing - a division of Igloolik Isuma Productions:

Kessler, Deirdre, Isuma Teacher's Resource Guide, Montreal: Isuma Publishing, 2004

Robinson, Gillian, Isuma Inuit Studies Reader, Montreal: Isuma Publishing, 2004


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