I have been collecting penguins ever since I was about 12 years old. So, when I taught preschool, I made sure to share my love of penguins with a penguin-themed week every winter. Penguins are a lot more popular now, with all of the penguin movies that have come out in the last several years. Therefore, a penguin thematic unit is so easy and fun to do.
Here are some of my favorite activities for Penguin Week:
1. Send a Penguin Home – Introduce a stuffed penguin on Monday Morning. Tell the children that each night, one child will get to take him home. Draw a child’s name at random each day. Send the penguin home with him, along with a journal book. Have the parent write a paragraph about what the penguin did with the child’s family. The next morning, during group/circle time, have the child talk about the penguin’s experience at their home.
2. Paper Plate Penguin –
Make these cute paper plate penguins. Give each child a paper plate and some black and orange construction paper. Allow them to cut out penguin wings, head, feet and beak. Provide googly eyes and extra construction paper or supplies for extras, like a bowtie or other decorations. Allow children to be creative.
3. How tall are penguins? On some craft paper, draw the height of several popular species of penguins and include their pictures. Measure the height of each child to compare.
4. Make Ice Cream! This is a fun recipe to get children involved. They add ingredients to a Ziploc bag and shake it up until it is ice cream. This is a huge hit with young children.
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
- 6 tablespoons salt
Preparation:Put milk, vanilla and sugar into a pint or quart-sized freezer bag. Seal well. Fill a large, gallon-sized freezer bag with ice. Add the salt.Put the smaller bag into the larger bag and seal.Shake and mix until the ice cream thickens, about 10 minutes. You can also let the kids gently throw the bag back and forth to help mix the ice cream. The bag gets very cold, so you might to have children wear gloves when doing this project.
5. Penguin song: Here’s a cute song to the tune of I’m a Little Teapot…
I’m a little penguin in the snow.
I slide on my tummy to and fro.
I eat the fish from the deep blue sea.
I’m black and white, just look at me.
6. Penguin Waddle Race – Get medium-size balls and have the children place the ball between their knees and race to a point.
7. Footprint Penguin art project (if you dare!):
What You Need:
- White Paper
- Construction Paper
- Googly Eyes
What You Do:
Dip the child’s foot in black paint or an ink pad and put on white paper.Add eyes an orange beak and a small white circle for a belly and you have a footprint penguin.
8. Interactive bulletin board – I created a fishing bulletin board for children to practice number sight words. For the water, I had children fingerpaint with shades of blue. I then found a penguin pattern and created fishing poles out of construction paper and yarn. I put magnets on the end of the yarn. I had a bowl of construction paper fish nearby…also with magnets). Children were able to put the correct fish on the matching penguin’s fish pole to match the sight words. This can be adapted for any type of word match game, math activity, etc.
9. Frost Covered Penguins – This is a cool ‘snowy’ effect for any construction paper penguin…using just Epsom Salt and Water. Make a solution by mixing equal parts boiling water and Epsom and stir well. You want to make sure the salts dissolve into the water. Use the solution to paint over your paper. As it dries, the dissolved salt will crystallize again, creating a frosty, snowy look.
10. Black and White Day – On Friday of Penguin week, tell all children to wear black and white clothing. During circle time, brainstorm things that are black and white (penguins, zebras, Oreos, newspapers, panda bears, etc.) – see how many things you can come up with. Serve all black and white snacks (Oreos, Milk, Marshmallows and chocolate, etc.) – be sure to consider food allergies first. Practice patterns with mini-marshmallows and chocolate chips