Grade level: K-3
This integrated unit on penguins makes a terrific winter theme.
It is very easy to integrate these ideas into your whole curriculum. Many children are
interested in penguins and excited about learning how they live. There are many wonderful
books and materials available to extend these ideas.
This unit is designed to
be integrated into your lesson plans. Many of the activities can be done as whole group
activities. The books and information can be read as part of the guided reading block,
whether done as a class, in pairs or individually. Many of the art, research and math
activities can be done in centers or as part of writers workshop.
Students will explore penguins and expand
their knowledge of penguins to include different types of penguins, their behavior,
habitat, communication, reproduction, diet, eating habits and conservation.
The student will know:
1.Know the names of at least (9) penguins. (varies with grade level)
2.Compare sizes and physical
characteristics that distinguish one group of penguins from another group of penguins.
3.Identify penguins that live in warm
climates versus penguins that live in cold climates.
4.Explain how penguins gather food, feed
their chicks, and protect their chicks and themselves from predators. (life cycles)
Goodnight Opus- Berkeley Breathed
A Penguin Year- S. Bonner
A Wish for Wings That Work: An Opus Christmas Story- Berkeley Breathed
Cuddly Duddly- Jez Alborough
Hector and Christina- Louise Fatio
Little Penguin's Tale-Audrey Wood
Mr. Pin: The Chocolate Files- Mary Elsie Monsell
Mr. Popper's Penguins - Richard and Florence Atwater
Penguin Day - Victoria Winteringham
Penguin Moon- Annie Mitra
Penguin Pete- Marcus Pfister
Penguin Pete and Little Tim- Marcus Pfister
Penguin Pete and Pat- Marcus Pfister
Penguin Pete, Ahoy- Marcus Pfister
Penguin Pete's New Friends- Pfister Marcus
Penguins of ALL People!- Don Freeman
Tacky the Penguin- Helen Leister
The Penguins are coming-R. Penney
The Spy Who Came North from the Pole- Mary Elise Monsell
Three Cheers for Tacky- Helen Lester
For the youngest students:
Have each student create a travel brochure
to Antarctica with penguins on the cover. Tell students we will study different types of
penguins during our thematic unit.
Gather Penguin facts and make a fact book
on penguin shaped paper.
Write about what you think it would be
like to have a pet penguin.
Keeping Warm. Discuss how penguins have special down feathers to keep them warm. You will
need 3 zip-lock bags, ice cold water and ice cubes for this activity. Fill one bag 1/2 way
with water and ice and seal it shut completely. Zip the second bag almost all the way up
but blow some air into it before you seal it completely. (it should be an air pillow)
First put the bag with the air under the ice cube/water filled bag. Then do the same with
a flat bag. Which is warmer. Why do you think so?
Make a penguin finger puppet: Take empty film canisters and cut the lid in half. Glue the
lid halves to each side to make wings. Cut an oval piece of white paper or fun foam for
the belly. Add wiggle eyes and orange for a beak. You can also make a neat scene for the
penguins. Take a blue piece of paper and paint a snow scene. Cut a Styrofoam ball in half
for an igloo, the kids can move their penguin around the scene.
a favorite penguin book graph. After you read all your penguin books, have the class
choose their favorite book. Create a graph with the children's imput.
As a class:
Discuss the similarities and difference of
all species of penguins, including location, sizes, physical characteristics, birth
process, eating habits and predators. Consider the following questions:
Where do penguins live?
Which penguin is the largest?
Which is the smallest?
What are the physical characteristics of the penguins known to scientists?
How are baby penguins born?
How do adult penguins care and protect their chicks and themselves?
What is the life span and causes of death for each species of penguins?
What do penguins eat?
an Emperor Penguin.
You will need an egg made of play dough.
Explain that once an egg is laid the emperor male penguin keeps it warm for two months for
balancing it on his feet. See if you can balance the egg as you walk around the room!
out the father penguins guarding the eggs on their feet while the moms "waddle"
away to eat. Used plastic Easter eggs.
together as a class, or let students work individually on a graphic organizer in a
t-shape. Let them show what is fact about penguins and what is fiction in stories they
map, locate all the places where penguins live. Then plot all the places the penguin in
the story went.
a penguin mobile of the different varieties of penguins. Draw the penguin on one side and
write it's characteristics on the other side.
the students choose their favorite type of penguin and create a slide show about it. Be
sure to include it's vital statistics, characteristics, and why you like it best. (note:
this can be done in Kids Pix, Clarisworks, Hyperstudio or Powerpoint.)
Penguin Language Arts is on
a separate page Penguin
For older students (or more
Divide the class into pairs to research
penguins. Assign a species of penguins to each group. Have students' research the life
cycle of these penguins, including where they live, behavior, adaptation to live under
water, diet and eating habits, mating and birth process, growth process, communication,
longevity and causes of death, and conservation (survival).
Or have several students' report on:
The female King penguin lays one egg and
breeds every (3) years. Research how old a female King penguin is when she has her first
chick and how long is her life span. Then figure up how many babies she might have in her
Have students to make a list of the largest penguin
in size to the smallest one and write (2) physical characteristics for each penguin.
Help students make a chart (or a wall
mural) comparing the sizes and physical features of different types of penguins. Extend
this even further, choose one student, and make a drawing of them to put on the wall with
After the students have completed their reports and
share them with the class, discuss during group time.
These questions could be discussed in
small groups and reporters from each group can share the following information.
1.Which penguin would you like to learn more about?
2.Which breed of penguins would have the greatest chance of survival if they were brought
to the United States to live? Explain.
3.What is the most interesting idea/fact you learned about penguins from this book?
Penguin Feet-Have your students trace their foot onto white paper. Next have them color
their foot tracing so it looks like a penguin. The top half of the foot is the head. They
will need to make wings and penguin feet. Use the penguin to measure sizes and distances
in the room. Some examples might be: Size of your desk, across the room, from your desk to
the sink, from our room to the blacktop. Make a large chart on bulletin board paper with
the students' names down one side and the things measured across the top. Have each child
fill in the chart with his data. The penguin feet can be glued around the outside of the
chart. This makes a great bulletin board.
Life Size Penguins
Students can practice measuring with a yardstick in the following activity. Place students
in groups. Assign each group a different type of penguin. Give the group the measurements
of the penguin. The group is also given a piece of white butcher paper. The group then
draws the penguin according to the measurements and colors it so that it looks like the
type of penguin they are to draw.
Real Life Penguin--------------Measurements
Little Blue Penguin 16 inches
Emperor Penguin 3 feet 9 inches
Macaroni Penguin 2 feet
Chinstrap Penguin 30 inches
Ade'lie Penguin 2 feet
King Penguin 3 feet
Make paper mache' penguins. Try creating an
egg-shape made by paper-mache'ing over a medium oval balloon. When it is dry, painted to
show face, chest, and feet. Hang from a string or attach to cardboard (and add feet) after
it has dried.
The culminating activity can be evaluated using the following criteria:
1.Do the students' reports contain information that shows an understanding of their
2. As you read each book, ask for comments and feedback, especially if the student-made
book allowed readers to increase their knowledge and understanding of penguins, the
different types of penguins, and the various characteristics of penguins.
3. Listen to student discussions, do students' express their expanded knowledge about
Elementary Penguin Links