Each night, the adults hide the Polar Bear with a note. Each morning, the kids find the Polar Bear, and read the note to find out how they can help the Polar Bear! (See more details on how to play here.)
This project is available in a pre-formatted printable PDF on Etsy, for those who are looking for easy-to-use Polar Bear Notes and printable Polar Bears. You do not need to purchase the Printable PDF to play Polar Bear Over There, but it supports the creator and a portion of the profits will go to a nonprofit that is working to combat climate change.
What’s in the Polar Bear’s notes is up to you. This page includes enough Polar Bear notes for a family 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 family, so you can pick and choose which notes to use each day.
Each note includes one way kids can help save the environment, followed by a “Thinking Big” action kids can take in an effort to effect greater change in the world.
Polar Bear Note #1: Walk or Bike!
Help save my habitat by walking or biking! Riding a bicycle or walking instead of driving in a car saves fuel. When cars use fuel, they produce greenhouse gases that cause global warming. That’s bad for the environment, which is bad for my habitat. Let’s walk or bike together!
Thinking Big: How can you convince others to walk or bike instead of driving? More people walk or bike in communities that have sidewalks or dedicated bike lanes. Send a message to your local government officials to ask them to build and improve sidewalks and bike lanes in your community.
Polar Bear Note #2: Fix a Toy!
Help save my habitat by fixing an old toy! Old toys don’t need to end up in the trash – they might have plenty of life left in them. Throwing away broken things instead of fixing them makes more trash, and more trash is bad for the environment. Plenty of toys can be fixed by sewing up a hole or gluing a piece back together. You can also get creative by finding a way to make a new toy out of a broken one. Let’s fix a toy together!
Thinking Big: How can you keep more toys out of the trash? Toys that are made poorly or only work for a short time end up in the trash more often than higher quality toys. Send a message to a big toy company to tell them that making better toys is good for kids and the environment.
Polar Bear Note #3: Make Fewer Messes!
Help save my habitat by making fewer messes. Making messes can be fun, and fun is important! But not all messes are fun – sometimes they’re just messy. A lot of water and chemicals are used to clean up messes. Wasting water is bad for the environment, and extra chemicals are, too. That means messes can be bad for polar bears. Together, we can make fewer messes!
Thinking Big: Are there other big messes that can be prevented? The big oil spills you hear about on the news can be prevented when oil companies follow stricter safety rules. Send a message to your representatives in Congress to ask them to make sure these companies are given stricter rules to prevent big spills.
Polar Bear Note #4: Turn Off the Lights!
Help save my habitat by turning off the lights! Lights use energy, and saving energy will help save the environment. You can save energy by turning lights off when you leave the room and not turning lights on when you don’t need them. Let’s save my habitat and turn lights off together!
Thinking Big: Can you think of other places where energy is wasted? Big buildings waste energy in many ways, such as by using too much heating, air conditioning, lighting, and water. Send a message to a business or organization that has a big building near you and ask them to reduce their energy use.
Polar Bear Note #5: Reuse a Container!
Help save my habitat by reusing a container! A lot of the containers that food, drinks, and other stuff come in are useful for all kinds of things. Use one to store your rock collection, make an art project, do a science experiment, or come up with your own unique idea. Reusing a container will keep it out of the trash, and trash is bad for the environment. Let’s reuse a container together!
Thinking Big: Can you think of other places you could bring a reusable container instead of getting a new one? Maybe a big store or restaurant you like gives you a new container with every purchase instead a reusable one. Write a message to the business to ask them to switch to reusable containers.
Polar Bear Note #6: Eat your Veggies!
Help save my habitat by eating your veggies! Farmers use less energy when they produce vegetables instead of meat. Using less energy helps save the environment, which will help save my habitat. You don’t have to stop eating meat – it can be a great source or protein, which helps you grow. But foods that aren’t meat can have a lot of protein, too, like beans, nuts, and tofu. Let’s eat some protein that isn’t meat together!
Thinking Big: Can you convince others to cut back on eating meat? A lot of people eat meat because there aren’t a lot of tasty alternatives at supermarkets and restaurants. Send a message to a big grocery chain or restaurant and ask them to include better, high-protein vegetarian items on their shelves or menus.
Polar Bear Note #7: Recycle!
Help save my habitat by recycling! Used plastic bottles, metal cans, and glass jars can all be recycled by putting them in the right recycling bin. They will be taken to the recycling plant, where the plastic, metal, and glass are turned into new products. This helps to reduce the amount of trash, and trash is bad for the environment. Let’s recycle together!
Thinking Big: How can you get more people to recycle? Companies that produce food and other products can help people recycle by putting their products in packaging that is easier to recycle, such as by using cardboard that isn’t coated in plastic. Send a message to a big company to encourage them to use packaging that is easier to recycle.
Polar Bear Note #8: Reuse a Bag!
Help save my habitat by reusing a bag! Lots of stores give you a disposable bag when you buy something. If you use the bag again, you can keep it out of the trash, where it can pollute the environment. Just bring your bag to the store and carry your new things home in your old bag. Let’s reuse a bag together!
Thinking Big: How can you encourage others to reuse their bags? Ask the manager at a local store or send a message to a chain of retail stores asking them to cut back on plastic bags and provide reusable bags to buyers.
Polar Bear Note #9: Use Less Water!
Help save my habitat by using less water! Wasting water wastes energy, and wasting energy is bad for the environment. There are a lot of ways you can use less water, like taking shorter showers, using less bath water, or turning off the water while you’re brushing your teeth. Let’s save my habitat by using less water!
Thinking Big: Can you think of other places where water is wasted? Restaurants can waste a lot of water if they use older, less efficient equipment and appliances. Send a message to a big restaurant chain to ask them to update their equipment to reduce water usage.
Polar Bear Note #10: Don’t Litter!
Help save my habitat by always putting your trash in a trash can! Leaving trash outside instead of putting it in a trash can is called littering. When you litter, your trash ends up polluting the environment – and hurting animals like me! Let’s save my habitat by not littering!
Thinking Big: How else does trash end up in the environment? Stores and restaurants that use extra packaging, such as plastic boxes or cups instead of cardboard or paper ones, are contributing to the amount of litter in the environment. Send a message to a big store or restaurant that uses too much plastic and ask them to cut back on packaging so they can reduce litter.
Polar Bear Note #11: Recharge Your Batteries!
Help save my habitat by using rechargeable batteries! Some of your toys light up and make sounds and do all kinds of fun things. Toys like that usually use batteries, but not all batteries are the same. Some batteries can only be used once before they are thrown away. Other batteries can be charged at home and reused. Find out which of your toys can take reusable batteries, and let’s recharge our batteries together!
Thinking Big: How can you get more people to use rechargeable batteries? Think of a toy or product that came with disposable batteries. Send a message to the company that made it to ask them to use rechargeable batteries instead.
Polar Bear Note #12: Eat Sustainable Fish!
Help save my habitat by eating sustainable seafood! Some fish and other seafood are bad for the environment, which is bad for me and the other polar bears. But polar bears and people like sustainable fish. Look up which fish and seafoods are better for the environment, and let’s eat sustainable seafood together!
Thinking Big: Does your favorite restaurant or school cafeteria serve sustainable fish? Find out by checking the menu or asking them. If they aren’t using sustainable fish, send them a message asking them to start serving more environmentally responsible seafood.
Polar Bear Note #13: Don’t Take Things You Don’t Need!
Help save my habitat by not taking things you don’t need. When you go out, you’ll see a lot of free stuff you don’t need, like plastic spoons at a restaurant, free keychains at a festival, or free catalogs at the store. When you take these things, they end up in the trash, and trash pollutes the environment. Trash in the environment is bad for all animals, and polar bears, too. Together, let’s say NO to stuff we don’t need!
Thinking Big: Does your favorite store or restaurant give out too many things that end up in the trash can? Ask them to cut back on passing out these items, or ask them to switch to biodegradable ones instead.
Polar Bear Note #14: Shop Wisely!
Help save my habitat by buying something from a store that helps the environment. Like you and me, a lot of businesses want to save my habitat, too! There are plenty of ways they do this, like using less plastic, not wasting energy, or giving money to people who clean up the environment. Next time you need to buy something, find out which company is more helpful to the environment. Let’s buy some sustainable products together!
Thinking Big: What are your favorite stores that don’t sell sustainable products? Send them a message to tell them you don’t want to shop there if they don’t clean up their products – and that you will shop there again if they act to improve the environment.
Polar Bear Note #15: Clean the Lint Trap!
Help save my habitat by taking the lint out of the dryer! Clothes dryers use energy to dry our clothes. The little fibers that fall off of clothes are called lint, and dryers collect these in a lint trap. Full lint traps cause dryers to use more energy, and using more energy is bad for the environment. Let’s clean the lint trap together!
Thinking Big: Can you think of other ways energy is wasted? Energy can be wasted when it travels over the power grid from the power plant to your home. This energy waste can be prevented by using more modern or “smart” power grids. Send a message to your representatives in Congress asking them to support laws that seek to improve the power grid.
Polar Bear Note #16: Don’t Use Disposable Straws!
Help save my habitat by not using a disposable straw! Straws are too small to go in the machines that recycle plastic, so they end up getting thrown away as trash. Small pieces of plastic often end up in the ocean, where they pollute my habitat. Let’s save the environment and skip using straws together!
Thinking Big: Straws are a small contributor to plastic waste – can you think of bigger ways plastic gets into the environment? A lot of companies use too much plastic packaging, such as by putting plastic bags around products or by using plastic instead of biodegradable paper or cardboard. Write a message to a company that uses too much plastic to ask them to cut back on plastic in their products.
Polar Bear Note #17: Tell a Friend!
Help save my habitat by telling a friend! Not everyone knows that polar bears are in danger, and they might not know that there are ways they can help save the environment. Polar bears like me need all the friends they can get. Let’s tell a friend how they can help!
Thinking Big: Can you think of other ways to spread the message that polar bears are in trouble? You could post a photo on the internet, write a message to put on a bulletin board, or make a video to let people know.
Polar Bear Note #18: Make a New Toy!
Help save my habitat by making a new toy instead of buying one! You can make your own toys out of things you already have around the house. Make your own paper friends from recycled paper. Make a stuffed animal with clothes or socks you were going to throw away. Make a rocket ship with a box, scissors, and markers. When you buy fewer things, like toys, you make less trash. Trash is bad for the environment. Let’s save my habitat by making a toy together!
Thinking Big: Can you think of other ways to get people to reuse items instead of buying new things? Many local libraries and community centers set up places to loan out items besides books, such as tools, garden equipment, and household items. Send a message to your local government officials to encourage them to support and expand community lending.
Polar Bear Note #19: Don’t Waste Food!
Help save my habitat by not wasting food! It takes a lot of energy to produce food, and when it’s wasted, that energy is wasted. Also, when food goes in the trash, it produces greenhouse gases when it breaks down at the landfill. That causes climate change, which is bad for my habitat. You can avoid wasting food by finishing the food you’re given or only taking as much food as you’re going to eat. Let’s save the environment by not wasting food together!
Thinking Big: Can you think of other ways food is wasted? A lot of supermarkets throw away food that is nearing its expiration date. Instead, stores can donate it to food banks or compost it to keep it from landfills. Send a message to your local supermarket chain to ask them to donate or compost old food instead of throwing it away.
Polar Bear Note #20: Donate Old Toys!
Help save my habitat by donating old toys! When you have a toy you don’t want to play with anymore, it might just sit around and get old and dirty. Old, dirty toys often end up in the trash. Too much trash is bad for the environment. Also, donating a toy gives another kid a chance to play with it, and that makes everyone happy. Let’s donate old toys together!
Thinking Big: What other items could be donated instead of being thrown away? When buildings are renovated or demolished to make new construction, a lot of furniture and building supplies are thrown away instead of being donated to people who will use them. Send a message to a construction company near you to encourage them to partner with an organization that collects building materials for reuse.
Polar Bear Note #21: Close the Fridge!
Help save my habitat by closing the refrigerator! Your refrigerator uses energy to keep food cold. When you keep it open for too long, you let out the cold air and the fridge uses extra energy to keep the food cold. Using too much energy is bad for the environment. Let’s save my habitat and close the fridge together!
Thinking Big: What are other ways energy use is bad for the environment? A lot of energy is produced from non-renewable resources, such as oil and coal, but some energy is produced using renewable energy, such as solar and wind. Send a message to your representatives in Congress asking them to support laws that expand the use of renewable energy in our country.
Polar Bear Note #22: Use Paper on Both Sides!
Help save my habitat by using paper on both sides! Paper is made from trees, which are good for the environment because they help to clean the air. It’s good to use paper when you need it, but wasting paper means that more trees need to be cut down. Cutting down too many trees is bad for the environment, but it’s easy to use less paper by writing on both sides of the page. Let’s save my habitat and write on both sides together!
Thinking Big: Can you think of other ways paper is wasted? When you order products online, they are often delivered using too many boxes or boxes that are too big. Send a message to a company that uses too much cardboard and ask them to reduce the amount of cardboard they use for shipping and commit to reducing their paper use.
Polar Bear Note #23: Use Safer Chemicals!
Help save my habitat by using chemicals that are safer for the environment! All kinds of chemicals are used to keep you and your home clean – but some chemicals are safer for the environment than others. You can find soap and other cleaning products that are better for the environment at the store or online. Let’s help save the environment by cleaning with safer chemicals together!
Thinking Big: Can you think of other places where too many chemicals are used? A lot of chemicals are used for the production of dyes and materials for clothing and the fashion industry. Send a message to a big fashion company asking them to switch to fabrics and production processes that are better for the environment.
Polar Bear Note #24: Close the Door!
Help save my habitat by closing the door! Heating and air conditioning systems use energy to keep your home warm in the winter or cool in the summer. When you open the door, you let in the outside air. This makes your house the wrong temperature, and more energy is used to heat or cool your house to keep it comfortable. Making sure to keep the door closed when you’re not using it will save energy at home, which is better for the environment. Let’s close the door together!
Thinking Big: Can you think of other places where energy is wasted? A lot of the energy that is produced is wasted due to inefficient energy use, which includes energy loss from unnecessary heating and cooling. Send a letter to your local elected officials asking them to write laws that require buildings in your area to increase their energy efficiency.
Polar Bear Note #25: Compost!
Help save my habitat by composting! Food waste (like vegetable peels, leftover food on plates, or food that went bad) and yard waste (like fallen leaves or lawn clippings) can be composted at home or at a composting center instead of going into the trash. Composting is breaking down food or yard waste in a bin or pile to make fresh soil. This saves energy and makes less trash, which is good for the environment. Let’s save my habitat and compost together.
Thinking Big: How can you get other people to compost? Communities can encourage composting by having their own composting facilities and picking up compostable waste from homes and businesses. Contact your local elected officials and ask them to create or expand community composting programs.
Polar Bear Note #26: Skip the Dryer!
Help save my habitat by skipping the clothes dryer! Clothes dryers use a lot of energy, and wasting energy is bad for the environment. A lot of clothes can be hung up to dry instead of being put in the dryer. Hanging clothes to dry can also make them last longer, which means your favorite shirt won’t fall apart as fast. Let’s save my habitat and skip the dryer together.
Thinking Big: Can you think of other ways energy is wasted in the home? Your heating, air conditioning, and water heater use a lot of energy, and they can waste a lot of energy, too. These big energy users don’t have to waste so much energy – more efficient products are available, but companies and builders need to be encouraged to use them. Send a letter to your representatives in Congress asking them to propose and support laws that require energy-efficient products in new homes and buildings.
Polar Bear Note #27: Don’t Waste Paper Napkins!
Help save my habitat by not wasting paper napkins or paper towels! It’s easy to use a lot of paper products when you’re eating or cleaning up. But making these products takes a lot of trees, and cutting down trees is bad for the environment. You can use fewer paper products by using a cloth napkin during a meal, using a sponge instead of paper towels to clean, or using a cloth towel instead of a paper towel to dry your hands. Together, we can use fewer paper products!
Thinking Big: Can you think of other ways to save the world’s trees? Big food companies contribute to the loss of trees and forests in many ways. One way is by using palm oil, which is often produced from oil palms that are planted after tearing down forests. Send a message to a big food company asking them to stop using palm oil in their products.
Polar Bear Note #28: Make Recycled Wrapping Paper!
Help save my habitat by wrapping gifts in newspaper or other recycled paper! We all receive a lot of paper we don’t need once we’ve read it, like newspapers, catalogs, or reminders. You can use this paper to wrap gifts, and even get creative by coloring or cutting and pasting it to make it more fun. Reusing paper instead of throwing it away is better for the environment. Let’s make wrapping paper together!
Thinking Big: Can you think of ways to get other people to recycle? Communities that encourage recycling, such as with public recycling bins and curbside recycling pickup, have higher rates of recycling. It is also important that communities use recycling services that are efficient and dedicated to responsible recycling of resources. Send a message to your local government officials to ask them to encourage recycling and make sure the services that are used are recycling responsibly.
Polar Bear Note #29: Skip Bottled Water!
Help save my habitat by skipping bottled water! It takes a lot of energy to make and ship bottles of water around the world, and empty water bottles often pollute the environment. Instead, you can drink your tap water, either before or after using a water filter. Don’t drink bottled water when you’re at home, and try to fill a reusable water bottle and use it when you go out. Not drinking bottled water is better for the environment. Let’s save my habitat and skip bottled water together!
Thinking Big: Can you think of ways to get people to stop drinking bottled water? One way is by offering filtered water in places where bottled water is common, like public facilities, restaurants, and rural communities where clean drinking water is hard to find. Send a message to a big beverage company asking them to reduce bottling of water and donate money to programs that provide free filtered water instead.
Polar Bear Note #30: Shop Local!
Help save my habitat by shopping local! When you buy something at a local store instead of having it shipped to your house, you save energy. Buying local means the item doesn’t need to be packed up and trucked straight to your house, which saves energy. This is better for the environment, which is better for polar bears. Let’s help save my habitat and shop local together!
Thinking Big: How can you encourage people to shop local? Communities that support small businesses instead of big national chains are more likely to have unique local shops where people want to buy things. Send a message to your local elected officials asking them to make policies to encourage small business development in your community.
Polar Bear Note #31: Pick Up Litter!
Help save my habitat by picking up litter! Trash that ends up on the street, at a park, or in nature is called litter. You can pick up the trash you see and put it in a trash or recycling bin. That will keep the trash from getting into the ocean and environment, where it hurts polar bears and other wildlife. Let’s pick up litter together!
Thinking Big: How else can the environment get cleaned up? Besides litter, there are many environmental sites that are also contaminated with chemicals and hazardous waste. These sites need to be cleaned up by professionals so they can become safe places for people and wildlife. Send a message to your representatives in Congress asking them to support cleanup efforts in contaminated environments.
I hope you enjoy playing Polar Bear Over There!