Homeschooling: Antarctica Unit

Homeschooling: Antarctica Unit

This year in our homeschool, we are studying world cultures/the continents. I started with North America, not because I think it’s more important but because I thought it would be easy–not many countries, and I’m already very familiar with them. It wasn’t bad. Then we did Christmas Around the World, glancing at several European nations and a couple other countries. After Christmas, I thought we’d cover Australia and Antarctica rather quickly before hitting the BIG, country-full continents. Antarctica isn’t even a proper country…I thought it would probably not be very interesting, but at least it would be quick!

Antarctica turned out to be one of my favorite units! I was quickly sucked into the drama of the explorers and the history of the whalers. Penguins were never my thing, but they turned out to be fascinating birds, and leopard seals changed my perspective on a seemingly gentle animal forever. (They attack through the ice and have big scary teeth. Terrifying and kind of awesome!)

Homeschooling: Antarctica Unit

Here are some of the highlights of our unit:


We read many good books, including an easy reader about penguins that my first grade son actually read to us–what a thrill! But these two were my favorites.

Trapped by the Ice–This detailed account of Ernest Shackleton’s third expedition held even the attention of my five-and-six year old’s just as rapt as it held mine! A fascinating story with a happy ending.

Something to Tell the Grandcows–This story about Admiral Bryd’s expedition is much more fanciful, being told from a cow’s perspective, but is a lot of fun and still at least a little bit educational!


Shackleton Reenactment–After reading Trapped By the Ice, we set up some blue and white sheets and pillows to represent water and ice and then used some toy people and a toy ship to act out Shackleton’s misadventure. It was a rowdy good time!

Label/Color a Penguin–We used a color by number penguin and label a penguin worksheet for a little seat work. Sad fact of life–our most awesome school activities are the hardest to put in a portfolio, so I like to include something tangible, and it doesn’t hurt if it’s cute!

Penguin Play inspired by 3 Dinosaurs Instead of water beads, I just used water. I liked the Safari Penguin Toob but couldn’t get it in time for our study: I was able to pick up Safari Emperor and Chinstrap penguins and later some Emperor chicks. Schleich also has some very cute Emperor penguins.


Black Olive Penguins by Foodie with Family Over a year ago, my daughter spied these penguins on Pinterest as she looked over my shoulder and insisted that we make them for a family Christmas gathering. After a tedious tussle with cream cheese, I swore never again…but how could I not do them for Antarctica week? But no scarves. I absolutely draw the line at scarves.

Snow Ice Cream by Gimme Some Oven Do they eat snow ice cream in Antarctica? Who knows! But it was a fun project for a snowy theme!

We loved our Antarctica unit! What would you add for your own class about the South Pole?

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