Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ice, Blubber, and Artic Animals

We started the day talking about our trips to Iowa, Ohio, and New York and how cold it is during the winter.  It is really cold when we go sledding, but luckily, our Grandmas always have warm jackets, hats, mittens, and boots for us to wear.  Jumping Bean and Jelly Bean, my twin girls, then started to ask how Roxy, our dog, was going to stay warm.  After all, dogs don't wear clothes Jumping Bean reminded me.  This was the perfect opportunity for us to talk about how animals stay warm out in the cold.

First, we looked through the books Arctic Babies, by Kathy Darling and Polar Mammals, by Larry Dane Brimmer.  We looked at the pictures with all the ice and snow, and then realized how big some of the animals are or how much fur they had on their bodies.  Keeping it simple, I read a few captions from the books about how blubber, or fat, keeps animals warm in the Arctic.  Next, our conversion went in a whole new direction - Santa.  "Santa lives in the North Pole too,"  Jelly Bean expresses.   "Is that why he has a big tummy?  Too keep him warm?"  Well, how can you respond to a 3 year old?  I just giggled.

To help Jumping Bean and Jelly Bean understand blubber and insulation, we did a little experiment.  "YAY,"  along with little feet running to the closet is all I hear when experiment is mentioned.  We grab two big bowls and rubber gloves out of the closet.  Next, I fill each bowl with ice and water.  I ask the girls how long they think they can keep their hands in the ice, cold water.  Jelly Bean says for 181 23,000 minutes (I think we need to work on numbers and time).  Jumping Bean is a little more realistic and predicts 100 seconds.  They both submerge their hands in the water, and Jumping Bean immediately takes her hands out.  "The water is too cold.  I don't have blubber like Santa."  Again, I just have to giggle.  Jelly Bean kept her hands in for a bit longer, but not much.

After submerging our hands in the ice, cold water, I asked the girls how animals stay warm in the arctic.  "Blubber," they shouted in unison.  To imitate blubber, the girls put rubber gloves on, and then we coated the gloves with shortening.  To help with the mess, we wrapped plastic wrap on top of the shortening.  Then, the girls played in the water.  They cold not feel the cold and all.  Both were amazed.  For only being able to withstand the cold for seconds, the "blubber" allowed them to play in the ice water for at least 15 minutes. 

Then the fun really started, the girls were curious about shortening - how it tasted, if it would stick to their noses, or if it was squishy like butter. 

And somehow, what they took away from all of this, is that whales eat baby seals.  But, I couldn't get the camera quick enough before the baby seal was gone.

Blubber Experiment

  • bowl with cold water and ice cubes
  • shortening
  • rubber gloves
  • plastic wrap

  1. Fill the bowl with ice and water. Allow the child to experiment with how comfortable it is to put their hands in the water.
  2. Dry hands and put the rubber gloves on the child. Then coat the gloves in shortening and cover in plastic wrap.
  3. Prompt the child to predict if the water will feel colder/the same/warmer.
  4. Allow the child to experiment again with how comfortable it is to have their hands in the cold water.
  5. Have fun!


Go to for more fun, hands-on ice activities for your preschoolers!

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