How To Play

Polar Bear Over There can be played as a climate-conscious winter holiday tradition. It can be used as an alternative to Elf on a Shelf for families who like the idea of waking up to a surprise every morning, but want to try something a little different. You can also play Polar Bear Over There any time of year to promote climate awareness and action — it also works great for Earth day (month!), wintertime, or to play weekly during the school year.


NOTE: Directions are also available in the FREE printable PDF.

  1. Each night, the adults or leaders hide the Polar Bear with a note telling players how they can help to save the Polar Bear’s habitat. (Note: The Polar Bear Notes include a “Thinking Big” action that’s ideal for older players — it’s up to you whether to include them!) Some hiding place ideas are here.
  2. Each morning, the players find the Polar Bear and read the note.
  3. Leaders can discuss the note with the players, or they can assist with an activity related to the note.
  4. Repeat each morning until you’re done! This can be done as a lead-up to Christmas or any other holiday, as a month of climate-consciousness, or whatever works for you.

The Story:

The Polar Bear’s Story starts like this:

See that polar bear over there?

His habitat is melting!

He’s looking for a new home, and spreading the word that YOU can help!

Find the polar bear and he’ll tell you how to save him, his habitat, and the rest of the planet!

From there, you play along!

Each night, the Polar Bear is placed or hidden around the house, along with a note teaching kids how they can help save his habitat.

Each morning, the kid(s) find the Polar Bear and read the note. Because the adults pick what’s in the note each day, it can give the kid(s) an activity to help save the planet (let’s bike today!), a tip (don’t waste water!), or give information (how recycling works!).

Why Play Polar Bear Over There?

Polar Bear Over There can be a fun holiday tradition, no matter which holidays you celebrate. It can be used as a lead-up to Christmas, like Elf on the Shelf, a winter-long tradition, or in conjunction with any other holiday. There is no wrong way to participate!

You don’t have to buy anything to play Polar Bear Over There. You can use any Polar Bear you can find — like a stuffed animal, a figurine, or an ornament (no real polar bears, please!) — or you can make a Polar Bear by printing out a photograph or drawing your own. You can even print out a Polar Bear on this site to use.

This project is available in a pre-formatted FREE printable PDF, for those who are looking for easy-to-use Polar Bear Notes and printable Polar Bears. You do not need to purchase this to play Polar Bear Over There, but you can buy the printable PDF on Etsy if you would like to support the creator and have a portion of the profits go to a nonprofit that is working to combat climate change.

Also, what’s in the Polar Bear’s notes is up to you. This site includes enough Polar Bear notes to use for a whole month, but you can make up your own, too. Not every note will be appropriate for every day or every group, so you can pick and choose which notes to use each day.

Polar Bear Over There is intended to be a fun way to help foster a love of the environment in kids, families, and communities. If you come up with a way to make it more fun, or more environmentally-conscious, go for it! Please feel free to share any ideas, tips, or photos on this site, or on social media with #PolarBearOverThere.