It’s Shanna! This year my daughter decided she wanted a polar bear theme for her birthday party. Everything we did was specific to polar bears but most of our ideas could easily be adapted to other animals too.
Another great organization to donate through is the Houston Zoo; they guarantee that 100% of the proceeds donated through them will go directly to animal conservation efforts. My daughter had been worried that she wouldn’t get any presents, but several of her friends brought gifts instead of donations and, of course, she still got presents from family too. In the end she was pleased with the number of presents she received and also felt really good about donating money to a worthy cause.
Several days before the party I did some research and found 15 facts about polar bears that I thought the kids wouldn’t know (sample facts are at the bottom of this post). Then I found a printable outline of a polar bear and made 15 copies, so I could add one fact to each copy. I also created a short quiz about these facts.
In the second activity the kids pretended to be scientists going to study polar bears and they had to cross an “arctic water channel” using “icebergs” so they didn’t get wet. The water channel was simply two lines in the dirt, about 20 feet apart from each other. The icebergs were poster board that had been cut into four pieces that were about 11”x14” each.
This made them do some problem solving as they figured out they couldn’t just toss the poster board down, but had to place it down and keep their hand on it as they stepped onto it. Because there was only one per person, it also made them work together by passing icebergs up to the front of their group to continue moving forward while they shared space on each iceberg.
This game could be made more challenging for older children by giving them fewer icebergs. It could also be easily adapted to other scenarios like using stones to cross a river in a jungle.
I did make a few changes to the recipe that I think worked out well. First, I used canned icing instead of making it from scratch, which worked fine. Second, I didn’t want to use coconut, so I used finely grated white chocolate for the fur. Third, I used Whoppers instead of Milk Duds for the eyes. I also made sure to bring extra chocolate-covered Oreos and Whoppers to the party so each child could have one. Otherwise I think the kids would have fought over them!
Sample Polar Bear Facts:
Fact #1: Polar bears look white to provide camouflage in the snow and ice, but their skin is actually black. This helps the bears to absorb heat.
Fact #2: The scientific name for the polar bear is Ursus maritimus. They are known as nanook to the Inuit, ours blanc or ours polaire in French, oso blanco in Spanish, beliy medved in Russian, and shirokuma in Japanese.
Fact #3: Seals are the main prey of polar bears. The fat from the seals is the highest calorie food source available to them. Polar bears usually hunt by waiting for seals to surface to breathe at openings in the ice.
Fact #4: Polar bears live in the Arctic. They do not live in Antarctica, which is where penguins live.
Sample Polar Bear Quiz:
1. What color is a polar bear’s skin?
2. The scientific name for the polar bear is:
A. Polarus bearus
B. Ursus maritimus
C. White bear
D. Sea bear
3. Polar bears most often eat:
4. True or False: Polar bears can often be found near groups of penguins.