World Biomes #8: Arctic Tundra and Polar Deserts, by Cheryl

Previously:   Mountains and Alpine Forest

Tundra: “Land of No Trees.” As I mentioned in my post on Mountain Habitats, we studied the Mountain Tundra and the Arctic Tundra separately because most of the books we picked up divided them and paired them with the mountains or polar deserts. Inititally, I felt this was a good way to go. As we continued our studies, I found that we were covering a lot of the same material a second time. We did find a few fun new things – pingos and hexagons for example.

Pingos and hexagons are two types of land formations found in the arctic tundra. The kids loved the word pingo, and my son wants to create a game by that name. His idea sounds very similar to Bingo, but I love that something we studied has sparked his creativity!


Panda and Polar Bear by Matthew J. Baek does not really cover any material vital to our study, but my daughter picked it up, and we read it the first day of our study. It is sweet story about a polar bear who gets lost and makes friends with a panda, and they work together to get the polar bear home. My daughter loved it!

First Reports: Tundra by Susan H. Gray is from one of the series we have used throughout our study. It covers arctic and alpine tundra, one of the few books we found through our library that covered both.

Polar Lands by Margaret Hynes is another book we brought home from Chick Fil A. You can find used copies on Amazon. I love this set of books. Each one has some great information and a fun activity!

Arctic Tundra and Polar Deserts by Chris Woodford is from the Biomes Atlases series. If you can find a set of these books at your library or purchase them from Amazon, do so! They have been invaluable in our study! They have concise information and good maps. I have been able to go over the detailed information with my oldest  but just hit the highlights and look at the pictures with my younger student.

Life Under the Ice by Mary M. Cerullo has beautiful photographs of animals in their icy habitats! This was my animal lover’s favorite book! It also had lots of fun information.

Arctic and Antarctic Habitats by Kate McAllan was a great read for both of my kids. We found some interesting facts about the habitats!

Polar and Arctic Tundra Animals

Some of the many animals we came across include: plover, whimbrel, snowshoe hare, lemmings, arctic fox (Lilly’s favorite!), big horn sheep, musk ox, caribou, grizzly bear, walrus, ptarmigan, antarctic ice fish, polar bear, arctic tern, penguins, and harp seals.

Our favorite animal fact was that the antarctic ice fish has antifreeze in its blood to prevent it from freezing in the icy water!

Arctic Tundra Plants

Antarctica cannot support many kinds plant life. The types of plants that are found in the arctic tundra include sedges, heaths, mosses, and lichens.


Bog, Pingo, Polygons, Permafrost, Sedges, Heaths, Mosses, and Lichens

Fun Facts

The oldest known lichen is found in Greenland. It is approximately 4500 years old!

Fun and Easy Activities

What is blubber and how does it keep an animal warm?

The plan was to put our hands in ice water, then coat them in a blubber-like substance and then put them back in the water to see if it created some insulation for their hand. It sounded fun, but the combination of gloves that were too big and kids who were uninterested and unwilling to cover their hands in the gooey mess made this a failure at our house. Not everything goes according to plan. Give it a try; maybe it will go better for you!


This lapbook section is smaller than the others due to the overlap in information. Here are the pieces we made: Map, Polar Animals, Tundra Landforms, Review.

Next time: Wetlands!

Cheryl–Cheryl is a singing, dancing, baking, homeschooling mom of three. She has danced her whole life and taught ballet and theatre for most of her adult life. Her favorite pastime has always been cooking and baking, and as a Pampered Chef Independent Consultant she gets to share that love with others. Home educating her three children has been and continues to be one of her greatest learning experiences! It is an adventure she is ready to continue.

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