Antarctica: Animal Adaptations

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What adaptations do animals have to help them survive the harsh Antarctic conditions?

This extended resource is designed for Year 5 and 6 Biology students who are learning about animal adaptations and ecosystems. It covers the physical, behavioural and physiological adaptations that Antarctic animals have to survive and thrive in extreme conditions. You will find starter and plenary activities, design tasks, suggested solutions and students worksheets, all mapped to the curriculum and themed around Antarctica.

Emperor penguin bending down to a chick between the feet and a huddle of penguins keeping warm behind
An emperor penguin keeping its chick warm between the feet. Credit: Peter Hargreaves / Australian Antarctic Division

In this sequence of learning, students investigate how animals and plants survive the harsh Antarctic climate. They will group animals and plants according to those that could survive Antarctica and those that could not. Through guided research, students develop an understanding of adaptations. They will describe animal adaptations as physical, physiological or behavioural. They will also make connections between Antarctica’s climate and migratory patterns. Students will be able to create their own Antarctic animal and explain the ways it is suited to the environment.

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This resource is supported by the Australian Antarctic Program.

The Royal Institution of Australia is the official education partner of the Australian Antarctic Division.

Years: 5, 6


Biological Sciences: Ecosystems, Living Things

Additional: Literacy, ICT Capability, Critical and Creative Thinking.

Concepts (South Australia):

Biological Sciences: Interdependence And Ecosystems, Form And Function, Diversity And Evolution