Friday, January 21, 2011

Traveling to Antarctica to See PENGUINS! (Penguins #1)

For the next couple weeks, we're studying penguins. Travel along with us on Day #1 of our unit... :)

1. We sang the "7 Continents" song and located them on a map. I bought the maps at Target for $1 during back to school time. I've known the song forever. I'm not sure if I made it up or not. ;) Here's another version.

2. The boys wrote (4yo dictated) what they know and wonder about penguins. I generally have kids make their own KW (know and wonder) booklets, but I found a KWL penguin book that they enjoyed cutting/folding.

3. We read a poem introducing Antarctica. [from Math Learning Center's Bridges curriculum] Here's another Antarctica poem.

4. We make passports (photo above, from Bridges) that included our height and weight, which we measured. This is in preparation for measuring penguins, so I designated an area of the wall for this purpose.

5. I made little "suitcases"* out of cardstock and each child "packed." (*Just fold a piece of cardstock in half and cut the top into handle shapes.) My 8yo made a list of what he'd take to Antarctica, my 4yo "wrote" (I helped) and drew pictures.

6. We broke out the cold-weather clothing box--no snow here so far this year--and the kids donned winter wear for the journey. We enacted getting aboard an airplane and flying to Antarctica.

7. When we arrived, we watched several YouTube videos showing Antarctica. My 4yo quickly bored of this and wanted to reboard the jet.

8. Each boy colored a penguin to serve as a cover page for a travel journal. I don't like to use coloring pages (I'd actually printed one for ds8 to look at while drawing his own picture), but both boys were eager to use the coloring page. I let them. We stapled lined paper behind the cover to make the journal pages.

9. We read from Greetings from Antarctica as a model for what a visitor to Antarctica might see and experience. The book includes letters from the author to a child back home.

10. After reading about the remote tent camps in Antarctica, my guys layered on winter clothing again and set up camp in a play tent in our living room. They fashioned walkie talkies from clothespins, because they would attach to their clothing. They discussed going to see the penguins.

11. The mail arrived at a perfect time with a special package. I debated long and hard before ordering these, but I loved what Joyful Learner's daughter was doing with hers (I love ALL her ideas!...what an awesome teacher!) I ordered a Penguin Toob for my boys. They set them up on playdough "ice", made eggs, and took their penguins swimming in the "ocean" (hardwood floor.) I wanted this specific set because we'll be studying several of the species included in the pack. With all the fun they've had today, I'm considering another set for an upcoming birthday to expand the "family."

12. My 8yo ds journaled (see #8) about the first day of his "trip." I wrote about that here.

13. Update: The boys are playing and playing and playing with their penguins. Fantastic start to an exciting unit! I'll write a new post showing the habitat their sister made for them. Amazing. ;)

Find more penguin resources here:

KidZone Penguin Activities

MathWire Penguin Activities

My Penguin Blog Entries (with more links)

Isn't homeschooling great?!!! :)

See what others are up to...


  1. Those penguins are much loved around here! Worth every penny!

  2. @ Joyful Learner...start humming the tune "You're My Inspiration..." ;) LOVE YOUR STUFF! ;)

  3. I love how detailed you made everything - I am often lacking in making our "journeys" real for my daughter. Have fun in Antarctica!

  4. @Raising...they wanted me to play airplane over and over. I told them I was done flying and it was now up to them. ;)

  5. **Blushing** Enjoy your adventures!

  6. Looks like a lot of fun. If you're looking for snow, we have a foot of it that I'd love to give you.
    Janet W

  7. @Janet...We would LOVE a foot of snow. We haven't had any snow on the ground since my son arrived home from China more than 19 months ago. He wants to play in it! ;) It's just been wet, cold and rainy here. Yuck.

  8. I like the idea of the know and wonder books. :)

  9. Adore the idea of making suitcases and boarding a plane to go to Antarctica! Great ideas!

  10. I got the idea of the packing suitcases from A Bit of This A Bit of That. Isn't the blogging world great?!

  11. I especially love how everyone builds on one another and the project gets more and more creative as it goes around.

  12. @ Jamie...THANKS! I do this on most unit studies. Great starter activity.

    @ Plants & Joyful...THANKS! I'm not even sure where I first got the idea of packing suitcases. I had my 3rd grade students pack paper suitcases when I taught But I doubt that I thought it up. I do remember how my 3rd graders loved it. But Joyful gets the credit for my buying the plastic penguins, which have been played with for hours today. I'm a sucker for cute school-related stuff.

  13. Please, please, please, please PLEASE share the rest of your days of this unit study????
    I've never really "gotten" how to do a unit study (and I've heard tons of moms talk about them) until I read this...
    plus, geography and penguins are favorites around here and I would like to use every scrap of idea that you have that we have not already done. :)
    please? :)

  14. @ 4 Little Penguins...

    Well, for a blogger with the name "Four Little Penguins," I'd do anything. ;)

    Seriously, that's my intent. I love unit studies. Just got out of the habit. I'll do my best to document everything we do. Monday is Day 2. ;)


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