Continent Study: Antarctica – Digging Deeper


I still felt there was much to explore in our Antarctica study but we were running out of time.  I chose three more, fairly effortless activities to do to wind up our studies.

Modern autobiographies about visiting Antarctica

Much of what we had learnt about this pole came from secondary sources, although we did look at some primary ones when we did our Explorer study on Shackleton.  I really enjoy biographical works especially if it is written by the person it is written about.  I found three such books, ordered them from Amazon and asked the children to read them over our holiday to Northern Ireland:

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The main downside with biographies is the language.  It seems unavoidable in books like these and the Cracknel/ Fogle one was particularly bad.  The children are at an age where they understand good language from bad and living in a household where they are not allowed to use the words ‘hate’, ‘stupid’ and ‘boring’ the language in the above books shocked them somewhat. I had to make a call on whether to reject the books based on this.  Gary and I chose not to.  We warned the children if we heard any language we disapproved of we would take them away immediately.  There have been no repercussions that we can see, and whilst we would definitely prefer them to read books without bad language these were too good to miss.  T13 could not put down the Cracknel one and I think he learnt more about the rigors of life in the Antarctic through that book than anything else.  I realise other parents may make a different choice so thought I would mention the swearing.  You have been warned!

Discovering Antarctica Website

I set apart a whole afternoon for exploring the Discovering Antarctica website.  I must mention at the out set that the children did not want to do this.  At all.  I made them because I really felt it was too good for them to miss.  After about three hours glued to their computer screen, I’m thinking I was right.  They were hooked within minutes of the start of their exploration:


It has a comprehensive contents section as well as a great resource section:

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But this doesn’t even begin to tell the story of everything they have on their site and to be honest if I had thought to, it would have been a great idea to have allowed the children to surf the site for an hour or so each week of the ten week unit.  There is a huge amount of really interesting and attractively laid out information which is often interactive requiring the readers participation in some capacity:

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And is suitable for all ages:

antarctic web

T13 enjoyed finding out more about the work the scientists were doing down in the southern pole:



Whilst L12 planned a trip to Antarctica:



And C12 enjoyed looking at the time line of its history:


A6 and B4 did some fun activities with me guessing whose eye was looking at us:


They could barely be dragged away to eat dinner and that is unheard of.  If you haven’t taken time to go over and have a look, do so now – you won’t be disappointed!

Completing an IGCSE paper based on the poles

The final activity was to have the three older children sit an IGCSE past paper in English which just happened to be on the polar regions.  The whole paper was testing the children’s ability to deal with non fiction texts.  The three sources were a newspaper report on Prince Harry in the North Pole, a few paragraphs from Cracknel/ Fogel’s book ‘Race to the Pole’ (which the children had already read) and an advertisement for adopting a polar bear:

Ribbet collagegcseenglish

They needed to answer a variety of questions, including two essays.  The questions were anything from asking about facts recalled from their reading the articles, to usage of language to techniques to draw the reader in.  Bearing in mind we have never really done anything like this before, and I have never actively taught them any of it, I thought they did fairly well.  Each one would have passed but it would have been a low pass.  It showed up their strengths and highlighted their weakness.  For example the essays were very good whereas the questions pertaining to language usage were quite poor.  This will give me much food for thought when preparing next year’s school work.

This is my final post on Antarctica.  I have a few to write about the Arctic region but it is anybody’s guess when I will get round to it!

For all my Antarctic posts click on the icon below:

antarctica button


  1. It’s always a hard call whether to read or recommend books with extreme language. It’s a pity they have to be written that way. The website looks amazing.

    1. Yes, I didn’t know whether I should even admit to reading them, let alone having the children read them!
      The website is well worth a look.

  2. Great resources, Claire. I don’t understand why books have to have such language.:(

    I hope you have a great Friday.:)) We are enjoying beautiful spring weather after some very dangerous storms over the weekend. There were ten tornadoes around us, but thankfully we just received very high wind gusts, 90 mph recorded in our little city, with some thunder and lightning and some very much needed rain.

    1. Oh, no! I’m sorry you’ve had such rotten weather and so pleased you are all safe and sound. I hope it is all over and you just get lovely spring weather from now on.

  3. I have really enjoyed the Antartica posts. Thanks for always sharing resource materials, etc. Love some of the creative ways you’ve decided to go about studying it. I plan to use your posts as a resource when we get to Antartica(we’re finishing world geography, which we started this school year, next year).

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