In the far untouched wilderness cold as can be, there lies a powerful sight to be seen.
Miss Twinkle is back on our blog with an ice-cold lesson on icebergs and glaciers! The class has taken a field trip to Antarctica to learn about how these impressive icy giants shape and mould our land.
Not only are these great icy masses breath-taking sights, they are really important to the well-being of our Earth! They regulate global temperature and climate, and they are hosts to entire ecosystems of animals. Let’s find out more!
Activity 1: Twinkle Trails Episode 24 — Icebergs & Glaciers
What’s an iceberg? What’s a glacier? Why are Miss Twinkle and class wearing snowsuits? Find out in Miss Twinkle’s powerful rendition of the song, Icebergs and Glaciers.
A glacier is a mass of ice that moves towards the ocean, just like a river but very slowly. Occasionally, a block of ice breaks off the glacier — through a process called calving — and drifts off to sea. This block of ice is now an iceberg.
Glaciers can be found on nearly every continent on Earth, but they’re most commonly found in Greenland and the Arctic Islands. Sheets of bright, white snow and ice cover vast areas of land.
Activity 2: To Spot a Glacier You Have to Have Good Ice Sight
(Get it? Ice sight? Eyesight? Haha.)
In reality, glaciers aren’t all that hard to spot! Glaciers are massive sheets of ice that cover vast areas of land. To give you an idea of just how huge they can get, the largest glacier in the world is bigger than the land areas of 63 individual countries!
Glaciers are Constantly Moving
At first glance, these icy giants may look like they’re just immobile masses of ice. In actual fact, glaciers are constantly flowing downslopes just like rivers — just at a much slower rate. (Hence, the nickname, “river of ice”.)
Glaciers move at a sluggish pace. Relatively fast-moving glaciers can shift up to 30 metres in a day (that’s 2 centimetres a minute), whereas slower glaciers can move as little as half a metre a day!
Hold on a minute — aren’t glaciers made of solid ice? How can solids flow? To understand how glaciers move, we’ll need to take a step back and examine how they’re formed.
Glaciers form when snow accumulates in one location over time. A glacier can take decades and centuries to form! Over a period of years, the amount of snowfall in one location needs to be greater than the amount of snow that melts to form a glacier.
As mentioned above, increasing amounts of snow are deposited in one area over a period of time. Eventually, the overlying snow becomes so heavy that the bottom layer of snow becomes compacted and turned into ice. As the overlying snow becomes heavier and heavier, the bottom layer (that is now ice) begins to deform under the immense weight and moves downslope. Ta-da! A river ice is formed!
This guy does an entertaining job of explaining glacier movement using his edible replication of glaciers. Enjoy!
Although glaciers move slowly, they are extremely powerful. Like huge bulldozers, they plow ahead year after year, crushing, grinding, and toppling almost everything in their paths. Forests, hills, and mountainsides are no match for glaciers.
Activity: Using Slime to Recreate Glacier Movement
Since we can’t practically watch real glaciers for signs of movement, let’s go ahead and create our own mini-glacier experiment. Slime moves slowly, but not as slowly as glaciers, and it tends to pick up solid objects in its way as it moves just like a glacier! And I think we can all agree that any reason to play with slime is a good one.
P.P.S. Steve Spangler has an abundance of super fun science experiments that you should absolutely try with your little ones. Check them out!
Activity 3: Icebergs (the ice structure, not the lettuce)
Recall: Icebergs are formed when a portion of a glacier breaks off and falls into the ocean.
We’ve all heard of the idiom, “tip of the iceberg”. It implies that there’s more to a certain topic than meets the eye. With real icebergs, there’s whole lot that doesn’t meet the eye. Almost 90% of any iceberg you see is underwater!
Even though a large chunk of the iceberg is underwater, some icebergs are so tall that the surface ice reaches up to almost 170 metres (that’s taller than a 50 storey building)!
The biggest iceberg that was ever recorded is Iceberg B-15, which was bigger than Jamaica — imagine a floating piece of ice that’s bigger than an entire country!
Activity: Iceberg Sensory Tub
Many think that icebergs are simply floating pieces of ice, barren of any life. This isn’t true at all! Plenty of icebergs support ecosystems of polar bears, penguins, seals, birds, and fish!
Of course, polar bears and penguins won’t be found on the same iceberg because polar bears are native to the Arctic circle and penguins live in Antarctica.
No Time for Flashcards has an awesome sensory set up that you can make using a small tub, a freezer, and a bunch of animals! Take this opportunity to discuss with your little ones about animals that live on land and those that live in water. Or you could talk about the features that animals in the Arctic share (like a thick coat of fur, white fur)! The iceberg is rich with life and opportunities to learn!
Arctic Ice Sensory Play
Even if your winter doesn't include the frozen tundra you can still learn about arctic animals and ice with this simple…
If you’re carrying out this activity in class, here’s your chance to host a little competition!
- Arrange the kids into small groups, with one sensory tub to each group.
- Get them to find particular animals in their tubs, e.g. “Find the polar bear!”
- Fastest teams win points!
That’s sure to get the little tots hyped up!
Activity 4: We Need to Protect Glaciers and Icebergs
This activity isn’t just for our little ones — they’re for all of us adults too! If you’re like me, you’ve heard the term “melting ice caps” and you know that it’s a result of global warming.
But, like me, you’ve never quite figured out how exactly this happens and why it spells trouble for our planet! Here’s the mini lesson plan that’s going to help you get your facts straight!
It’s important to note that glaciers and icebergs are considered land ice, since they originate from land. Whenever these ice giants melt, they are adding volume to our oceans.
Teaching our young ones about icebergs and glaciers is a good start to educating our children about global warming and the importance of eco-friendly habits!
How does global warming affect us?
Global warming refers to the overall increase of Earth’s temperature. Our Earth’s temperature has been increasing steadily for decades, and it’s projected that it will only keep increasing. So, what does this mean for us?
Global temperature rise has been linked to extreme weather in many parts of the world, namely longer and hotter periods of heat waves and more periods without rain. On the flip side, certain parts of the world will experience flooding, heavier rainfall, and more powerful hurricanes.
And like the video above shows, when the temperature of the Earth increases, it causes our land ice to melt into the ocean and increase sea levels. If this continues, sea levels can rise high enough to submerge entire cities!
What causes global warming?
High levels of greenhouse gases in the air traps heat in our atmosphere. There are high levels of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane in our air because there are many factories that burn large amounts of coal, oil, and other fossil fuels.
What can we do to help our Earth cool down?
There is much being done to reduce our production of greenhouse gases. You can read up on groundbreaking international treaties signed by countries around the world — all of them vowing to work towards protecting our planet!
While our nations are taking big steps to steer our world towards a healthier future, we (as in us and our little ones) can take smaller but eco-friendly steps to do our part! How can we lend a helping hand to our planet?
- Vehicles contribute a large amount of greenhouse gases. Choose to get around on public transport like buses and trains, or simply ride a bicycle or walk to your destination!
- Turn off lights and electrical appliances when they are not in use. Save electricity and reduce the amount of energy needed in your house!
- Reduce your waste generation. Reuse plastic bags and bottles. Recycle glass, aluminum, and plastic items by separating them from your trash and putting them in the recycling bin.
Bonus Activity: Making Ice Grow
There’s no major learning point here, it’s just a really cool “magic” trick.
Look cool? Find out how you can do it at home!
Our planet is filled with incredible sights and awe-inspiring structures like icebergs and glaciers! Let’s do our part to protect these natural treasures!
National Snow & Ice Data Centre — All About Glaciers / Generally About Glaciers
National Snow & Ice Data Centre — All About Sea Ice
One Geology — Glaciers
Ducksters — Glaciers
National Geographic — Glaciers
National Park Service: Common Questions and Myth about Glaciers
Diffen: Glacier vs. Iceberg