Reindeer -- School-age



Things to Know

Reindeer and Caribou are the members of the deer species. Reindeer are smaller than caribou. The reindeer is a medium-sized member of the deer family. The reindeer is about 4 feet (1.2 m) tall at the shoulder and is about 6 feet (1.8 m) long. Reindeer have fat thick bodies and short legs. Reindeer are strong runners and very good swimmers. They can run 14 to 16 miles per hour.


Reindeer can be found in the Arctic tundra, forests, and mountains in Russia, Northern China, Canada, Alaska, and Scandinavia. It is very cold where they live. They are very well adapted for the harsh arctic tundra where they migrate great distances each year.

Reindeer Habitat
Reindeer Habitat
Arctic Map Globe
Location of the Arctic

Reindeer were domesticated in northern Eurasia about 2,000 years ago. Today, they are herded by many Arctic peoples in Europe and Asia including the Sami in Scandinavia and the Nenets, Chukchi and others in Russia. Reindeer owners cut a notch in the ears to tell who the reindeer belongs to. They depend on the reindeer for food, clothing and shelter. Some Nenets even keep reindeer for pets!


Reindeer Bodies

Every reindeer both bulls (males) and cows (females) have antlers. They grow a new set of antlers every year. Reindeer have very wide, splayed hooves which enables the reindeer to spread weight on soft snow to prevent them from sinking.

Lichens color page

Reindeer have a short, dark summer coat and a thick, lighter colored winter coat. Reindeer have white tails and necks. They have unique hairs which trap air providing them with excellent insulation and helps the them float in water. They are very strong swimmers and can move across wide rushing rivers and even the frozen ice of the Arctic Ocean!


The reindeer is an herbivore (a plant-eater). During the winter, reindeer paw through the snow to find lichens and moss to eat. In warmer months, they also eat leaves and herbs.

Lichen color page

Reindeer on rocks snow

Story - The Wild Christmas Reindeer


Reindeer Snacks

Reindeer Antlers
Need: 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 cup butterscotch chips, 3 oz can chow mein noodles, 12 maraschino cherries (halved)

Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally ( or melt in a microwave). Remove the pan from heat. Stir in chow mein noodles.

On wax paper drop about 1 tablespoon of the mixture in a v-shape to resemble antlers. Press a cherry half at the bottom point of the v-shape.

Chill cookies on the cookie sheet in the refrigerator until cookies are firm.

Pretzel Reindeers
Need: curled pretzels, straight stick pretzels, wax paper, m&m's, red hots, melted white chocolate.

Lay curled pretzels (heart shaped) on wax paper. Fill open areas with melted white chocolate. Put two matching M&M's (for eyes) in two largest filled areas. Put one red hot in smallest filled area (for Rudolph's nose). Break straight stick pretzels in half and insert at a slant above eyes to form antlers.

Trail Mix

Combine your favorite trial mix ingredients such as: raisins, yogurt-covered raisins, whole-grain cereal, dried fruits, nuts, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate chips, M&Ms.

Mix in a bowl. Scoop about one cup into brown-paper bags (that children have decorated) or small zip-lock bags.

Sites to See

Reindeer Jokes

Santa's Winterfarm Towers
Jan Brett's Reindeer Towers and Reindeer Ornaments color pages

Fun with Lichens in Lichenland
Learn and explore what lichens are at this Oregon University site.

Reindeer color page



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