Check out and enjoy any of the following Alaska-focused activities with your classroom! And for additional materials related to each of the amazing places in Alaska that we work to protect, visit our educator network pages and learn more about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Arctic Ocean, Tongass National Forest and National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
- Kites and Migration – Students have the opportunity to build their own kites and then fly them, representing the flocks of migrating birds that travel from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to their home state. This activity can be used for students ranging from grades 1-12, and allows them to learn basics of ecology, geography, physics, and even art. Download our kites (ZIP) package.
- Following the Porcupine Caribou Herd – This lesson introduces students to caribou and their migratory behavior. Students will learn basic facts about caribou and map the migration route of the Porcupine caribou herd of Alaska and northwestern Canada. They will conclude the lesson by drawing pictures of scenes along the migration route and writing captions to describe the drawings.
- Make a Polar Bear Mask – America’s Arctic is home to the only polar bears in America. As part of your outreach and education efforts, you may want to use these fun, printable polar bear masks.
- Make Paper Swans – Each year, waterfowl migrate great lengths to spend their summers in the Teshekpuk Lake area of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. You can help us work towards the study and protection of important areas within the Reserve with this fun craft project.
- Make Tongass Salmon – Wild salmon swim upstream into the Tongass National Forest, feeding some of the world’s highest densities of grizzlies, black bears and bald eagles. Local communities benefit from the gifts of both the forest and sea. Have your students color their own salmon using the templates provided. If you want to make your salmon 3-D, give each student a set of fish (front and back) and once they are done coloring, cut them out and using glue or staples attach the two halves together leaving a gap large enough to fit balls of paper. Stuff your salmon using scrap paper and seal.
Salmon templates: 8×11 front | 8×11 back | 11×14 front | 11×14 back
- Beluga Migration” activity: This National Geographic lesson asks students to think about how beluga whales survive in icy Arctic and subarctic waters and why they sometimes need to migrate. Students will view and sketch photographs of ice at different stages of thickness, look at pictures of belugas, and discuss how belugas’ bodies are adapted to life in the ice. They will conclude by writing and illustrating paragraphs about how belugas survive in the ice and where the whales go when the ice becomes too thick.
NATIVE CULTURE ACTIVITIES
- Make Your Own Inuksuk – An inuksuk is a stone landmark or cairn built by humans and used by the people of the Arctic region of North America. These structures are found from Alaska to Greenland. Since the region above the Arctic Circle has minimal trees and few natural landmarks, it is believed one of the main purposes of these stone structures was in navigation, as a point of reference and as markers for travel routes, fishing spots, camp sites and hunting grounds. The Inupiat in northern Alaska use inuksuk to assist in the herding of caribou when hunting in vast open areas. Varying in shape and size, the inuksuk have deep roots in the Inupiat culture. Download instructions.
- Alaska Way of Knowing – Over the centuries, village elders have shared their vast body of accumulated knowledge and life wisdom through stories and demonstrations. This lesson begins with two videos that present how local knowledge is acquired, applied and passed on. Following a brief classroom discussion, students will then watch more videos that will help them prepare for their primary assignment: completing a science fair project that demonstrates the application of traditional knowledge to a scientific topic. Through interviews with community members, especially Alaska Native elders, students will develop and refine their project ideas. They will conduct experiments, make observations, create demonstrations and report their findings. The lesson ends with a classroom science fair, during which projects are evaluated on cultural and scientific content. Download more information.