EYFS / KS1 Geography: Go Jetters - Continent of Antarctica

This collection of Funky Facts from Go Jetters focuses on Antarctica, the coldest, windiest continent on Earth and the least inhabited.

One clip introduces us to the idea of glaciers as rivers of ice, that travel slowly from high to low ground and eventually out to sea, creating ice shelves and icebergs.

The other clip is about the Geographic South Pole and the challenge it sets to explorers past and present in trying to reach it by land.

Whereas the Arctic Region is the natural home for Polar Bears, the Antarctic is the natural habitat for many different types of Penguin and these animals play a part in both of the featured episodes.

Lambert Glacier
Geographic South Pole

Teacher Notes

Before Watching

  • What do pupils know about cold and hot places in the world? Can they name any or find some on a globe? What do they know about Antarctica?
  • Recap the continents of the world and use a globe to find and name Antarctica. Ask pupils why they think much of the Polar Regions are shown as white on a map, globe or image of the Earth as seen from space.
  • Discuss how colder regions of the world are mostly found around the Poles and warmer regions near the Equator but also explain that you can get very cold places near the Equator if they are at a high altitude. One example of this is Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, which is often snow covered.
  • Establish the vocabulary of North and South Poles and find these on a Globe.
  • Introduce pupils to the terms Arctic and Antarctic, northern and southern hemisphere and use a globe to help locate and talk about these places. It’s useful to explain that the Arctic is an area of frozen ocean mostly surrounded by land and the Antarctic is an area of frozen land surrounded by ocean.
  • Practice globe tossing games with blow up globes and ask pupils to identify the Polar Regions, the North and South Poles and the Equator. There are other types of pole (e.g. magnetic poles), but the most northernmost and southernmost points of the planet are called the geographic poles.

After Watching

  • Antarctica

    • Locate Antarctica on globes, digital maps and atlases and find the South Pole. Do a virtual visit using Google Earth and research images of the Geographical South Pole.
    • Create a table- top map of Antarctica using junk materials. Include a South Pole, some mountains and ice shelves. Provide small play figures for imaginative play. Or create a ‘shoebox’ environment using junk modelling.
    • Find out about the animals that live there such as the different types of Penguins and Whales and create some drawings and Funky Facts about these. Add the different types of Penguin to a map of the continent, talking about how they need to live near the coast for food.
    • Make some simple comparisons using Venn diagrams and drawings to show some differences and similarities between the Arctic and Antarctic.
    • Read a selection of story and non-fiction books about life in icy environments like the Polar Regions.
  • Lambert Glacier

    • Look at photographs and video clips of glaciers and build a word bank of words to describe what you see.
    • Search on the internet for sounds of glaciers and listen carefully. Ask pupils to describe what they hear.
    • Create your own mini glacier with a slab of ice and some sand and gravel shaped into a hill, in a small plastic box. Watch what happens as the glacier in your classroom melts at room temperature. Compare over time with a plastic box, containing similar materials, kept in the freezer.
  • Polar Explorers

    • Read some stories about famous explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott. Discuss what it means to be an explorer and why people are curious about their surroundings.
    • Explain that everyone is an explorer, even just coming to school or playing outside is an opportunity to be curious and look. It’s not just about going to new places but about seeing places in a new way. Do some fieldwork in the school grounds and explore a new view or something not noticed before. Make a map of the journey.
    • Create a play area that is an explorers’ hut where Antarctic expeditions can be planned. Provide maps, compasses, clothing for cold weather and rucksacks with relevant equipment.
    • Ask pupils to draw or write a diary entry, imagining they are on a Polar expedition to the South Pole.
    • Every year, a new marker is designed for the Geographic South Pole. Look at some images of past markers and design a new one.

Master Skills

  • Naming, describing and comparing people and places (people, landmarks and features).
  • Locating landmarks and features using paper or digital maps; globes and atlases.
  • Drawing comparisons and similarities between places.

Thinking Questions

  • Why do people want to go to the South Pole?
  • Why don’t you get Polar Bears in the Antarctic or Penguins in the Arctic?

Supported Learning and SEN

  • Children could work in pairs or mixed ability groupings so that they benefit from peer support.
  • Using photographs and artefacts to sort and talk about ideas can help some pupils express their thoughts more easily.
  • Use vocabulary cards to match to what can be seen and support language development.
  • Pupils’ ideas might be recorded using audio or video media as well as through writing.

Extend This Project

There are explorers who will come in and do a talk with pupils about their travels. The British Arctic and Antarctic Surveys also offer schools the chance to link up with them whilst they are in Polar Regions, and to ask them questions.

Curriculum Notes

These short film clips contribute to the current national curriculum requirements in KS1 geography in England; the Foundation Stage World Around Us in Northern Ireland; the Foundation Phase Knowledge and Understanding of the World in Wales, and at Social Studies 1st level in Scotland.

The clips are especially pertinent to the Areas of Learning and subject requirements of geography but also provide opportunities to develop English and mathematics knowledge and skills in meaningful contexts across all UK curricula.

These clips and ideas will help develop pupils’ curiosity and build on their early experiences of the world around us.

The clips and ideas contribute to UK curricular aspects relating to cultural understanding, particularly with regard to people and places.