Welcome to school, everybody! My name is Professor Ellie Elf and I teach at the North Pole. Every Saturday, elves come to Santa’s School of Wonders, to spend an entire day learning with me. I am so glad you are going to learn with us today too!
Right now, the air in the North Pole is very cold. In the northern hemisphere (that’s the top half of the earth) it’s getting wintry all over. So, today seemed the perfect day for studying winter coats. I don’t mean coats elves wear or make though. We are looking at animals who have special coats or feathers for snowy weather.
Some animals have coats that change color with the weather. Isn’t that strange? When the weather gets wintery, these creatures grow fur or feathers that are almost completely white. When the weather gets warm and springy, their coats get color again. Why do you think animals would want to change color?
Try this experiment: take a sheet of white paper and tear a small piece from the corner. Put the sheet on the floor, put the small the piece on top, and then take a few steps backwards. Isn’t it hard to see that little piece now? That’s what happens when a white animal stands in the snow – it becomes hard to see.
Blending in with the snow helps many animals survive. Animals that hunt for food, like the Arctic Fox, don’t want other animals to see them coming. Others, like the Snowshoe Hare, use their white fur to hide from hunters. Even people wearing white are hard to see. That’s why it’s good for us to wear colorful winter coats – we want people to see us if we fall or trip in the snow!
The elves had so much fun learning about animal coats today, that our stuffed animal makers are hoping to create a stuffed animal that changes color with the weather. Wouldn’t that be exciting! Now, let’s see if you know some winter animal facts. Try the questions below to see what you know about our winter-coated friends.
1. What color is a polar bear’s skin?
Even though a polar bear looks white, its skin is black! The dark skin helps the bear absorb heat from the sun, so it can stay warm even in the coldest weather.
2. How long does it take for an animal to change its coat for winter?
- A few months
- A few weeks
- A few days
- A few hours
For many animals, it takes 2-3 months to change from a summer coat to a winter coat. While an animal's coat is changing, the fur has both some winter and summer colors and looks pretty messy.
3. How do these animals keep their feet warm?
- They bury them in the snow
- They grow fur on their feet
- They wear snow shoes
Many animals, like the Arctic Fox and Snowshoe Hare grow extra hair between the pads at the bottom of the feet and on their feet. Some arctic birds, like the Snowy Owl, even grow extra feathers on their feet. It’s important to have warm toes in cold weather!Are you beginning to feel the cold too? Check in with Santa's School of Wonders next Saturday for more exciting lessons.