Resource Type
Completion Time
Less than 1 period
Elementary and Up
Download, Share, and Remix
Maggie Prevenas
Polar Barbie and Arctic Bob (Paper dolls)
Paper clothes for tropical and sub zero temperatures in separate envelopes
Lists of each envelope's contents
“Recess at 20 Below” by Cindy Lou Aillaud (Alaska Northwest Books)
Archaeology and Anthropology
Language & Communication
Human Evolution
Life Science
Organisms and Their Environments
Regulation and Behavior
Physical Science
General Physical Science


Students will engage in a hands-on activity to help them consider what students in a tropical climate do to prepare for recess compared with students who live in the interior of Alaska.


Students will:

  • Compare what students in a tropical climate do to prepare for recess with students who live in the interior of Alaska.
  • Learn several consequences caused by sub zero temperatures.
  • Create awareness that people are able to prepare for a cold environment by adding layers of clothes.

Lesson Preparation

Prepare materials by cutting out paper dolls and clothes either with or without student assistance. See Resource section. Have students work in small groups of 1-3. Give each group an envelope that contains a doll with clothes to dress in a tropical climate, a list of the clothes, and a pencil.


Ask students if they have ever spent time outside where it is really cold. How cold? What did they do differently from playing outside at their school? Tell students to dress their Polar Barbie or Arctic Bob for their noon recess. As they put the clothes on the doll, they need to check them off the list. Have the students work in small groups or 2-3.

Now Read Recess at 20 Below by Cindy Lou Aillaud (Alaska Northwest Books). Emphasize dressing in layers, putting on mittens LAST, freezing breath, sticking tongues to metal (What would YOU do?) When is the brightest part of their day?

Have the students take the tropical clothes off their doll. As they take off the clothes they need to slip the paper clothes back into the envelope, as they do that, they need to check the clothing item off the list. Go around to the tables and collect the envelopes from the students. Next give each group an envelope that contains paper clothing for cold weather. Tell students to dress their doll as they would have to dress for cold weather. Tell them to count the pieces of clothes they would have to wear for cold weather recess. Have them compare the list of clothes that they wore for a tropical climate. The paper layers should be underwear, long underwear tops and bottoms, socks, sweater and pants, snow pants optional, shoes, parka, hat and mittens.

Take a balloon and blow it up. Ask for a volunteer. Have them rub the balloon against their hair or top. Now show the students how the balloon is attracted to hair, clothes, the wall. Talk a little bit about static electricity and how it is enhanced by super cold temperatures.

Summarize by asking the students to compare dressing for cold weather with how they dress for recess.




There are a variety of online resources for paper dolls and clothing. Here is one option: Alternatively you could use Barbie or similar dolls with dress-up clothes.




Maggie Prevenas, mprevenas [at]


K-4 Content Standard B: Physical Science: a. Properties of objects and materials c. Light, heat, electricity, and magnetism Content Standard C: Life Science: c. Organisms and environments Content Standard F: Science In Personal and Social Perspectives: a. Personal health
Attachment Size
Recess at 25 Below Lesson64.48 KB 64.48 KB

This program is supported by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed by this program are those of the PIs and coordinating team, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.