Stories for Students

On this page we’ve included links to the Feature Stories from the past issues of Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears. Our stories are available at K-1, 2-3, and 4-5 grade levels in three formats:

  • Text only: A pdf file that includes only the text and a glossary. This prints as an 8.5″ by 11″ handout and is 2-4 pages in length.
  • Illustrated book: A full-color pdf file that can be printed, cut, and folded to form a 2 1/8″ by 2 3/4″ book (directions below). Each book contains color photographs and illustrations; some books contain activity pages.
  • Electronic book: Onscreen versions of the books contain recorded narration that lets students listen to the story as they read along on the screen. Many of the e-books have highlighted vocabulary words so that students can hear definitions with a single click.  The e-books are also accessible from the Content Clips web site for visitors who have registered for a free Content Clips account.

For each story, we’ve included an overview of the content and a link to the original article and its related activities. We’ve also included direct links to all grade levels and formats.

Read about:

Notes for assembling the illustrated books:

You can put this book together a couple of different ways. You can print out the pages, cut them in half and then order the pages back to front. Fold the stack in half and then staple the spine of the book. Pairs of pages can then be stapled or glued along the right edge.

You can also assemble the book as a foldable book.

To assemble the books this way, print the four pages and align the document pages so that the following book page numbers are in the lower right-hand corner: front page, page 6, page 2, and page 4. (The cover page should be on top and page 4 on the bottom.) Set your copier to copy single pages into double pages and run the four document pages in the order specified. Cut along the dotted line in the center of the double-sided page, place the book pages in order, fold, and staple along the spine.


The Inupiat and Climate Change

The People of the Whale
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither

These articles explore how the Inupiat of Alaska’s northwest have adapted to changing conditions throughout the past and present. The original magazine article includes related resources.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.9
Grades 2-3: 3.5
Grades 4-5: 5.2

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Living and Working at the South Pole

Life on the Ice (Cube)
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither

These articles explore one scientist’s experience working at the IceCube telescope at the South Pole. The original magazine article includes related resources.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.9
Grades 2-3: 3.5
Grades 4-5: 4.8

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Polar exploration

Two Miles Below
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories explore how scientists are using robots to explore underwater mountain ranges in the Arctic Ocean. The original magazine article includes related resources.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.8
Grades 2-3: 3.9
Grades 4-5: 5.2

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Animal Adaptations

At Home in the Cold
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories explore adaptations that allow penguins, whales, walruses, seals, and fish to live in the cold water of the Arctic and Southern Oceans. The original magazine article includes related activities and Readers Theater scripts.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.3
Grades 2-3: 3.4
Grades 4-5: 5.0

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

The art and science of building igloos

A House of Snow and Ice
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories explore how and why igloos are built and how ice can act as an insulator. The original magazine article includes related activities.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.9
Grades 2-3: 3.2
Grades 4-5: 4.8

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

How glaciers shape the landscape

Ice Sculptures
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories explore how glaciers have eroded and shaped Earth’s landscape. The original magazine article includes related activities.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.6
Grades 2-3: 3.8
Grades 4-5: 5.1

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Blue Whales

A Whale of an Ocean
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories explore the characteristics of blue whales and a simple food chain of the Southern Ocean. The original magazine article includes related activities.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.9
Grades 2-3: 2.6
Grades 4-5: 4.7

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Tundra Ecosystem

A Tundra Tale
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories explore the relationships between various tundra species: marsh marigolds, bot flies, and caribou. The original magazine article includes related activities.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.5
Grades 2-3: 3.3
Grades 4-5: 5.0

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Lichen

Partners
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories introduce students to lichen, a plant-like organism that results from a symbiotic relationship between an alga and a fungus. The original magazine article includes related activities.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.8
Grades 2-3: 3.2
Grades 4-5: 5.1

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Birds

The Dance of Life
by Stephen Whitt

Sanderlings: Traveling Birds
by Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories introduce students to the life cycle and migration of the sanderling, a bird that winters on beaches in the Southern United States and South American but breeds in the Arctic during the summer months. The original magazine article includes activities on migration and templates to help students practice questioning strategies while reading content text.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.8
Grades 2-3: 3.1
Grades 4-5: 5.1

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Polar Mammals

White Wolf
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories introduce students to the life cycle and life of the arctic wolf. The original magazine article includes related activities and templates to help students develop listening comprehension skills during a teacher read-aloud.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.9
Grades 2-3: 3.3
Grades 4-5: 5.2

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Mt. Erebus

The Heart of Erebus
by Stephen Whitt

Mt. Erebus: A Surprising Volcano
by Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories introduce students to Mt. Erebus, a volcano located on Ross Island, just off the coast of Antarctica. Mt. Erebus is the world’s southernmost active volcano. Students in grades 4-5 read about Dr. Philip Kyle, a scientist with the Mt. Erebus Volcano Observatory (MEVO), while younger students read about the volcano in a simplified manner. The original magazine article includes related activities and a graphic organizer that can help students take notes while reading.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.9
Grades 2-3: 3.7
Grades 4-5: 5.5

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Solar Energy

The Shiniest Moon
by Stephen Whitt

Getting Warmer
by Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories introduce students to solar energy’s role in warming the Earth’s land and water and to the fact that dark-colored surfaces absorb more of the Sun’s energy than do light-colored ones. Students in grades 4-5 also read about how the decline in Arctic sea ice is changing Earth’s energy balance. The original magazine article includes related activities and a graphic organizer that can help students take notes while reading.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.9
Grades 2-3: 3.6
Grades 4-5: 5.8

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Polar Geology

Reader of the Rocks
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither

Rocks Can Tell A Story
by Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories introduce students to the discipline of geology, and specifically polar geology. Students in grades 2-3 and 4-5 meet Julie Codispoti, assistant curator of the U.S. Polar Rock Repository, and learn how she overcame an initial dislike of science to become a geologist. Students in grades K-1 learn that rocks, like books, can teach us about the world long ago. The original magazine article includes related activities and graphic organizers that help students master the strategy of determining importance in nonfiction text.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.9
Grades 2-3: 3.5
Grades 4-5: 5.7

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Ice

Growing Floaters and Shrinking Sinkers
by Stephen Whitt

Floating Ice
by Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories discuss the unique property of ice – that it floats in liquid water. Students in grades 4-5 learn why this occurs; younger students focus on real-world examples and how ice is necessary for life in the polar regions. The original magazine article includes related activities.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.4
Grades 2-3: 3.0
Grades 4-5: 5.1

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Antarctica’s Weather and Climate

Antarctica: King of Cold
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither, Nancy Brannon

These stories explain that while both the Arctic and Antarctica are cold, Antarctica is much colder and drier – a polar desert. The original magazine article includes related activities.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.8
Grades 2-3: 3.7
Grades 4-5: 5.3

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Aurora

The Aurora: Fire in the Sky
by Stephen Whitt

Colors in the Night Sky: The Aurora
by Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories introduce students to the colorful phenomenon known as the northern lights (aurora borealis) and the southern lights (aurora australis). In Fire in the Sky, students in grades 4-5 explore the cause of the aurora. Colors in the Night Sky, written for students in grades K-1 and 2-3, introduces the aurora in a simplified manner. The original magazine article includes related activities.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.8
Grades 2-3: 3.5
Grades 4-5: 5.2

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Polar Dinosaurs

Dinos in the Dark
by Stephen Whitt, Jessica Fries-Gaither

These stories introduce students to the dinosaurs found near the polar regions and discuss the adaptations that allowed these dinosaurs to survive in a dark and cold environment. The original magazine article includes related activities.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades K-1: 1.8
Grades 2-3: 3.8
Grades 4-5: 5.7

Grades K-1 Text Only Grades K-1 Illustrated Book Grades K-1 Electronic Book
Grades 2-3 Text Only Grades 2-3 Illustrated Book Grades 2-3 Electronic Book
Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

Polar Geography

The Top (and Bottom) of the World
by Stephen Whitt

In this story, students explore the geographic uniqueness of the North and South Poles. This story is available for grades 4-5 only. The original magazine article includes related activities.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Level:
Grades 4-5: 4.3

Grades 4-5 Text Only Grades 4-5 Illustrated Book Grades 4-5 Electronic Book

The Arctic and Antarctica: Are They the Same, or Different?
by Jessica Fries-Gaither

In these stories, students compare and contrast the polar regions. Available for grades 1-2 and 3-5.

Flesch-Kincaid Reading Levels:
Grades 1-2: 2.4
Grades 3-5: 4.7

Grades 1-2 Text Only Grades 1-2 Illustrated Book Grades 1-2 Electronic Book
Grades 3-5 Text Only Grades 3-5 Illustrated Book Grades 3-5 Electronic Book

Copyright 2008-2011 – The Ohio State University. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0733024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. This work is licensed under an Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported Creative Commons license.