The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

Steps to Create a Penguin Unit for Grades 1–4

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Penguins are a favorite among students and teachers alike; those cute waddling figures are adorable and fascinating. Create your own unit with a few simple lessons and activities. Incorporate life science, geography, and writing for a cross-curricular unit that will WOW your students!

Idea Web: Introduce penguins with an idea web. Discover what students already know about the birds and their habitats. (Video clips are also great for building excitement!)

Information: Explore different types of penguins, their behavior, habitats, reproduction, diets, eating habits, and predators. Some great informational books are:

  • National Geographic Readers: Penguins
  • Fun Facts About Penguins: Part of the Fun Facts Series

Simple Student Journal

Watch this short video to see how to make a DIY penguin journal!

Resources from Evan-Moor

The Theme Pockets: January, Grades 1–4 e-book includes the following penguin activities:

  • Life Cycle Wheel
  • Penguin Mini Book
  • Penguin Picture Cards
  • Penguin Information Book
  • Map Activity

Penguin Activities

  • Emperor Penguin egg transfer:
    • Two students transfer a ball using only their feet.
  • Experience the warming effects of penguin blubber.
    • Step 1: Students place hand in a bowl of ice water
    • Step 2: Covering their hand in a plastic bag, students place hand into a bag filled with Crisco (zip lock it carefully so it doesn’t leak out) and dip it into the icy water again. (This time they should feel the warming effects of fat.)

Writing Prompts

  • Write a sentence describing a penguin you studied. What does it look like? Where does it live?
  • Pretend you are a baby penguin. Write a story about your life. (Include your habitat, diet, parents, and predators.)
  • Compare and contrast two species of penguins. How are they the same and how are they different?
  • Research and informational writing: Students research their favorite penguin and write about it.

Movie

March of the Penguins by National Geographic


Heather Foudy is a certified elementary teacher with over 7 years’ experience as an educator and volunteer in the classroom. She enjoys creating lessons that are meaningful and creative for students. She is currently working for Evan-Moor’s marketing and communications team and enjoys building learning opportunities that are both meaningful and creative for students and teachers alike.

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