Tag Archives: Polar Bear Art Activity Based on The Icebergs by Frederick Edwin Church

Polar Bear Art Activity Based on The Icebergs by Frederick Edwin Church

God has given polar bears many unique features to help them survive in cold arctic regions. In this art project children will learn about some of these features as they draw and put together a collage of a polar bear framed against the colorful aurora borealis.

In this post you’ll find:

  • Supply list
  • Step-by-step Directions
  • Helpful Hints
  • Containing the Mess
  • Variations and adaptations for older and younger children
  • 6 Ways this activity aids children’s mental, physical, social, and spiritual development
  • Molly the Artsy Corgi picture

Let’s get started!


  • White and black construction paper
  • Pastels (There are 2 kinds of pastels—chalk-like soft pastels or crayon-like oil pastels. Either kind works for this project. If you or your child is bothered by dust, choose oil pastels instead of the soft ones)
  • Pencil, black marker, and scissors
  • White glue or glue stick


Start with the background of ice floes and

the aurora borealis:

  1. Tear jagged pieces of white paper that will stretch across the width of the black paper (tearing these gives a more natural look)
  2. Place the torn strip on a paper scrap and color blocks of pastels along the edges of the paper. Apply the color heavily.
  3. Place the strip a little below the top of the black paper and with your finger, “push” the color up and away from the white paper and onto the black paper. You can apply more pastel to the strip if it’s not dark enough.
  4. Repeat this with other strips and colors, moving the strips down a ways each time. Children can do as many layers as they wish.
  5. If you’re using soft pastels, you can clean off the dust with a tissue.
  6. Polar bears live and hunt out on ice floes, so cut white paper for the ice floes and arrange on paper to look as if some are farther away. Glue these down.

Next the polar bear

mother polar bear and cub, public domain, wikimedia

My elementary students are all drawing animals right now. Some classes are doing owls or seahorses, while others are drawing patterned animals, such as giraffes.

In each class we begin by looking carefully at the animal to see its unique features, head and body shape, and nose and ear size and placement.

Looking at these things not only gives them a greater appreciation for how our wise and creative God has made each animal just right for its environment, but it also helps them draw more accurately.

The bear we draw here is simplified for drawing by several ages, but we still want to make it show some of a polar bear’s unique features.

So as we go through drawing a polar bear, I’ll  do the same thing so you can help your child look carefully at the bear’s special features and draw these more accurately. It’s often best to draw on another paper first to make a pattern for the “good” paper, especially if it’s a collage. Draw the head and body separately  and then glue together.

polar bear out on ice floes, public media, wikimedia

  1. Bears have circular-shaped heads, and so do polar bears, but they are thinner and have thinner heads than many other bears.
  2. So its head is a circle that narrows more as you get to the chin.
  3. Polar bears have rounded ears, but they’re small so they don’t lose too much heat through them. Notice the wide placement of them toward the side of the head.
  4. Notice that polar bears have a longer snout than many bears that ends in a very large nose. Snout and nose together, make polar bears super smellers. For the snout draw an inverted triangle that’s rounded under the nose.
  5. Polar bears have smallish eyes that are close together in the front like most predators. They need to be able to see well in front of them to catch and grab their pray. Look carefully at where the eyes are in relation to the snout.
  6. In this drawing we’re looking at the bear face on and only see those powerful shoulders rising behind and around the head in an inverted U shape. Make another, much smaller u, to forms the front legs.
  7. Polar bears have huge feet, the size of dinner plates! These spread their weight so they can walk on thin ice. Their foot pads have little bumps that give them traction on ice and snow. They have long claws to help with traction and grab and hold onto slippery seals.
  8. I’ve just tried to show the enormous size of the feet without much detail.
  9. Outline your bear’s head and body in black marker, cut out and glue together.
  10. When cutting the bear’s body try making it a little jagged in places to suggest the thick fur polar bears have to keep warm, in addition to layers of fat.
  11. To finish, glue your polar bear wherever you’d like on the background.

Helpful Hints:

  • Children often need to see how to tear shapes.  Quick tears result in random shapes, so show children how to tear jagged pieces of paper by tearing slowly in one direction then changing direction to tear slowly again.
  • If older children decide to add the blue shading, I mostly gathered the blue on my finger and then brushed it across the edges of the bear’s fur and on the ice. In a few places, I made some scribbles with the pastel stick itself.

Containing the Mess:

  • Place a tablecloth or large sheet of paper under your work. Pastels are a little messy. If you used the soft pastels, you can just shake out the cloth outside. Watch out for what direction the wind’s blowing though!
  • Have paper towels and tissues to clean up hands and paper between colors and steps.
  • Place wax paper under papers as you spread glue on them to prevent them from sticking.

Variations and adaptations for older and younger children:

  • Instead of a black background with the aurora borealis, use blue paper for daylight and add snowflakes with white paint. You can spatter the paint or use Q-tips.
  • Younger children may need help with drawing and cutting, but if you show them shapes like the U and circles, they will learn to look and draw more accurately, too.
  • Younger children will enjoy coloring  and pushing the pastel colors onto the black paper, but may need help moving the paper down each time.
  • Older children may want to use deep blue pastel to add shading to the bear and the ice
  • Older children may want to study more polar bear pictures and try drawing one from the side
  • Use the same method to draw and create a smaller polar bear for a cub next to the large bear.
  • Send your polar bear to your grandparents or display on the fridge!
  • Use as an illustration or cover for a school report on the amazing polar bear!

6 Ways this activity aids children’s mental, physical, social, and spiritual development:

  1. Using pencils, scissors, and other art tools helps develop fine motor skills.
  2. Looking carefully at what they want to draw helps develop better observation and drawing skills.
  3. Learning about the polar bear’s special features enhances their appreciation of God’s creativity and care for all His creatures.
  4. This activity helps develop visual/spatial skills and how to understand and use visual information—important in learning to interpret photos, graphs, maps, etc.
  5. When children make choices in creating art, it enhances problem-solving skills.
  6. Making art enhances creativity and refreshes minds and eyes tired from screens.

Before You Go:

If you’d like more activity ideas and devotions for art, history, and nature, curriculum connections, and links to more resources, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and receive a free guide to 5 Ways Art Benefits Children’s Cognitive, Physical, Spiritual, and Social Development, with a Few Fun and Easy Activities to go with each Benefit

Visit my website where you’ll find free downloadable puzzles, how-to-draw pages and coloring pages for kids and an updated list of my hands-on workshops, chapels, and presentations for all ages.

Molly the Artsy Corgi Picture

Molly loves snow and she hopes you enjoy making this mixed media picture of a polar bear!

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