Polar Bears Go with the Floes Board Game
In this 45-60 minute "high-stakes" board game, everyone wins or everyone loses! As they play, groups of three to four children ages 8 to 13 build an understanding of how human actions impact global change. As teams, children play a game in which chance and choice determine the fate of a lone polar bear on an ice floe!
What's the Point?
- 1 Polar Bears Go With the Floes game board (select "fit to size of paper" when printing)
- 1 set of ice floe puzzle pieces on cardstock or white craft foam
- Game pieces on card stock
- 1 deck of game cards on card stock
- A Rules of the Game sheet
- 1 die
To introduce the activity, invite the children to play a "high stakes" board game — Polar Bears Go With the Floes — in which everyone wins or everyone loses! They will work together as a team to determine whether or not to save a polar bear on an Arctic sea ice floe.
- Do they know — or recall from what they learned in Know Your Poles! — where polar bears live? Polar bears live in the Arctic, in the north polar region.
- Do they know what an ice floe is? An ice floe is a thin, flat piece of floating ice.
Prompt a discussion about what is happening to ice on our Earth.
- Based on their observations in the activities they have completed, what do the children recall is happening to the ice sheets, glaciers, and sea ice on Earth? They are melting/getting smaller.
- What is causing this to happen? Earth's temperatures are getting warmer.
- Why are Earth's temperatures getting warmer? They are getting warmer, in part, because CO2 and other greenhouse gases are increasing in our atmosphere. When we drive cars using gasoline or burn coal for electricity, we add carbon dioxide.
- What animals living in the Arctic might be affected by the sea ice getting smaller? The children may say whales and seals and polar bears. If they name animals that belong on the tundra (for example caribou), let them know that these animals do live in the arctic, but not on or around the floating sea ice. If they say penguins, remind them that penguins live in Antarctica, not the Arctic (and penguins are much happier because they have never met a polar bear!).
- How might the changes to sea ice affect the polar bears or other animals? Share with the children that polar bears rely on sea ice to have dens where they hibernate and where their cubs are born. Sometimes these dens can be several hundred miles from the coastline. They also use the sea ice to hunt seals. If the sea ice melts too much, it will not support their weight as they wait for seals to come out of the water. If the sea ice melts too early, they will not be able to hunt at all when they come out of hibernation. With the decreasing ice, polar bears are having to swim farther distances to move from floe to floe.
- Is there anything that we can do — as individuals — to help decrease the amount of carbon dioxide-going into the atmosphere? Some children might suggest that we drive less. Others may have ideas about turning lights off or using fluorescent light bulbs.
- Divide the children into groups of three to four players and distribute the game board, Rules of the Game sheets, game pieces, cards, puzzle pieces, die, and polar bears. Show the children how to set up their boards, puzzles, and bears, and invite them to choose their game pieces.
- Review the Rules of the Game with the children and invite them to begin to play.