"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Monday, February 4, 2013

Penguin Mania

We began the month of January doing a winter study, then branched into learning about emperor penguins. We use the GEMS (Great Explorations in Math and Science) guide. These guides are part of Lawrence Hall of Science's curriculum (the public science education center at the University of Science at Berkeley, CA). You can go through a GEMS training and then check out the kits, but even if you don't have access to the kits, you can still purchase the guides and use them effectively. More info can be found at www.lhsgems.org.

We transformed the science table with emperor penguin images,
a baby penguin and egg images, books, "snow blanket", a stuffed
penguin, and smaller penguins on the icebergs.

We began the unit with a "what do we know" listing.
Children shared what they thought to be facts about the
penguins. During the course of study we determined which
things were true, partially true, or learned new information.

We did an experiment to help the children understand the concept of
the insulation that penguins, walrus, and the like have to make them
able to survive in the icy waters. We placed shortening in a ziploc, then
inserted and inverted ziploc inside the bag and zipped them together.
The child placed one hand in ice water and the other in the "insulated" bag
to feel the difference.

We did another experiment where the child held a ziploc bag of
ice in a hand, then transferred it on top of a ziploc filled with cottonballs
in the other hand and discussed the differences.

We used the small penguins, a placemat, and foam blocks to
create penguin math stories and the penguins walked on the
ice and swam in the water.

We froze blocks of ice then placed them in tubs of water complete
with penguins and fish. The children were able to move the penguins
around and have them swim in the icy water to catch fish.

I placed some of the penguin images out along with coordinating
paints and encouraged the children to look closely at the image
and then paint "what they saw".

Each child created their own penguin by drawing on eyes,
gluing on feet, beaks, and flippers. We placed stuffing inside
and the baggy penguins were used to do penguin role-plays.

I presented a drama about the penguin father caring for the egg.

The kiddos pretended to be penguins then huddled together to stay warm.

I love seeing how their little penguins turn out.

I purchased aqua gems (like aquaballs except they're cubes) from
Michaels, then froze them to look more like ice.

The kids practicing trying to walk with the egg on their feet.

The kiddos learned this poem along with motions
and we discussed predators and prey, rhyming words,
and exclamation points.

Each child got to be measured next to the life-size
emperor penguin poster.
We had so much fun and the kiddos learned so much. They are still talking about how the parents regurgitate the fish for the baby's food. What a fun unit!!


  1. Love your penguin unit! We had fun learning about them a couple weeks ago!

    1. Thanks, Kristina. The emperor penguins are truly amazing. The kiddos were shocked to see that an adult one was around 4 feet and would be taller than them. It's pretty crazy the journey that they trek to mate and then care for the egg and so on. It's a miracle the babies survive.