Friday, May 14, 2010

Penguins: A Perfectly Cool Unit Study for Hot Summers

Several summers ago, the kids and I had an itch for something different. Instead of the usual summer activities (whatever usual might be) we decided to pull together resources and visit the local library to learn all we could about penguins. Interestingly, the local movie theater offered FREE summer movies, one of which was March of the Penguins. We used the event as the kick-off to our study.

Once we watched the movie, curiosity drove the study; I just had to hang on and let the children discover, ready to put my research skills to the task if needed. And of course, I asked some intentional questions when the study stagnated. For the most part, their wonder fueled one another as well as their learning.

One of their main objectives was to make a lap book featuring their art and activities. Each child painted an arctic scene, adding tin foil ice bergs for effect. There were comparative measurements (cash register tapes) representing the heights of each species of penguin, a penguin life cycle wheel, a pop-up baby penguin chick, a flip book menu for penguin's diets, a narrative "day in the life of a penguin", and a colorful world map display of species habitats. In addition to the lap book activities, we experimented with "ice bergs" in the bath tub, made snow cones with shaved ice, watched educational videos about arctic animals, visited a fish market, compared shell fish (shrimp, crabs and lobsters) and enjoyed a day at Sea World. We covered every content area in our adventure naturally, using all our senses (it was a bit stinky at times). A quick check of destinations in the far north proved a field trip cost prohibitive.

Maybe your home could use a cool change for the hot summer months. Consider an unusual study or change in educational method. It may be the very thing the family needs to refresh learning and foster relationships.

Our penguin (and beyond) resources:

Penguin Chick by Betty Tatham

Penguin: See How They Grow, DK Publishing

These Birds Can't Fly, Allan Fowler

A Penguin's World by Caroline Arnold

Penguins! by Gail Gibbons

Puffins Climb, Penguins Rhyme by Bruce McMillan

Splash! A Penguin Counting Book by Jonathan Chester

Evan Moor's January Theme Book

KidZone: Penguins

Antarctic Connection

Enchanted Learning: Penguin Print-outs

1 comment:

  1. A great fiction book on penguins (that also gives many penguin facts and behaviors) is Mr. Popper's Penguins. My kids loved this book!


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