The Ultimate Guide for a Penguin Theme

Penguins are amazing, but studying them is even more exciting. In fact, researching penguins crosses multiple subject areas...math, science, reading, and writing, and even better than that, kids LOVE them!

Book Suggestions:

Penguins are amazing, but studying them is even more exciting. In this post, you'll find lots of fun penguin themed ideas for use in your classroom.
In today's post, I'll be sharing ideas, book suggestions, and resources for penguin and polar animal studies  To start off, here are my favorite books for the theme.  Of course, we can not teach a penguin theme without using great books. The Tacky books are my favorites in the primary grades as well as nonfiction selections. It's amazing how many different breeds of penguins there are, so there should be a great choices in your school library. For the middle grades, I love the book,  Mr. Popper's Penguins as a read aloud. You can even share the movie afterwards.  You see resources for both of these below.

Eve of the Emperor Penguin is one of the Magic Treehouse Series books. It's perfect for the middle grades 2-4, and this resource features a different skill for each chapter for better understanding.Eve of the Emperor Penguin by Mary Pope Osborne is another great penguin book that I enjoy using with my third/fourth grade kids this time of year. The Magic Treehouse series are well liked by so many children, and I love the fact that Osborne includes such rich vocabulary and ties in science and social studies content into the books.  This one takes Jack and Annie to the Arctic for lots of frigid adventure.  .

Close Reading Companion: Tacky the Penguin
Another favorite Penguin book of mine is Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester. This series is just plain fun. Our kindergarten teachers have a whole week devoted to penguins and Tacky is a favorite. His crazy behavior keeps the children engaged, and the story works well with many reading skills. You must check them out if you haven't already. I haven't made anything for Tacky, but Teresa Maguire has with this great Close Reading set, and it's free! The set could be used with the whole group to model skills in K-1, and in small group with 2-3.   


The final book I mentioned earlier and wanted to highlight is Mr. Popper's Penguins.  I have enjoyed using this book with fourth and fifth (depending on the reading level of the group).  It is an old classic.  Every group I've had read it has enjoyed it. The reading level is third to fourth grade.
  

Hands-On Activities for Penguins:

Tying fiction and nonfiction just got easier with Close Reading passages. This FREE close read can support your readers in learning about penguins.There are so many great options for studying penguins and other polar animals, but I am going to start out with two sets that I've made.  I plan to use them together during the same week and teach my students to make comparisons across multiple texts. The first is a forever freebie.  I have purchased a LOT of close reading materials to use with my students, but I've really wanted to make a few of my own.  It will introduce your students to penguin research and help your students learn the routines of close reading.  To access this FREE resource, simply click the image to the right.
Partner reading is so much fun. This partner play ties well Tacky the Penguin. Compare and Contrast them for reading fun.The second set is a partner script written for two voices called Penguins on Parade.  It is a fictional story based upon the idea of Tacky.  The main character has all sorts of challenges on the ice, but he overcomes these issues by being a superb swimmer. It would work well if you are trying to teach author's message/theme or character development.  It is not free (but is only $3.00).  It includes supplementary materials 

Art Ideas:

I love pairing art projects with writing, and I found these projects especially cute and fairly easy to use. If you're displaying work, then adding these to the project sure makes a fun display.

Tacky the Penguin! Kids can make a self "tacky" then write on the inseide    kids winter crafts

Making a Penguin Snow Globe   Winter Literacy Craftivities - provide teachers and students with 3 different fun, yet rigorous, craftivities for Winter.  There is a Comprehension Snowman with questions to fit any text, Penguin Paragraph with 6 different writing prompts, and a Figurative Language Snowglobe. $

Polar Animal Research:

If you're wanting to do an extended study of polar animals, check out this bundle in my store. It includes five close reading sets plus and a Polar Animals Paper Bag Book Research Project. The paper bag books guide students through the researching process for a fun final project.
 These close reading sets include before, during and after materials to address schema, vocabulary, text dependent questioning, and application of what students learn for each animal. They work very well for small group guided reading or for differentiated group research. Students read for a different purpose each day and have a new article for annotation and marking. Students can begin with the close reading set for an assigned animal and continue researching to complete the paper bag mini book as a culminating activity. 
This Pinterest board has been formed to collect our planning sheets as well as other themed resources. Feel free to follow it or pin to your own collection.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Penguins are amazing, but studying them is even more exciting. In this post, you'll find lots of fun penguin themed ideas for use in your classroom.
Do you enjoy thematic teaching? Check out the other themed posts on my blog for ideas you might enjoy trying. The posts each include book lists, resources, tech ideas, and other ideas I've found enjoyable. 

If you enjoy themed teaching, share some of the themes you like in the comments below. 


14 comments

  1. Great post again Carla! Thanks for all the great ideas and for the opportunity to share and link up!

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    1. Thank YOU for your donation, Kim. I know the lucky winner will be thrilled with your unit. :-)

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  2. Thanks for the opportunity to link, Carla! I see that you noted Martin Jenkins' "The Emperor's Egg". That's a favorite of mine, and one that kids always love to hear!
    Linda
    Primary Inspiration

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    1. I am so glad you linked up, Linda. I had not visited your blog before, so it's nice to see a new face. :-) I used to use that with second grade, but now have 4/5. Eve of the Emperor Penguin is more my level with 4th (struggling). I still totally love Tacky though!! My kids are going to have so much fun next week.

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  3. Thank you for the opportunity to link up Carla. I always enjoy reading your posts and get lots of great resources and information. I was glad to participate this time!
    Sebrina
    Burke's Special Kids

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    1. Yeah on the resources! Likewise though...I love reading your posts too. It's nice to combine all of these great ideas and make planning easy for everyone! I have way more resources than I have time to do them all. :-) Nice to have options.
      Carla

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  4. Love that we're all sharing about penguins, but we all have different ideas! Thanks for another great linky!

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    1. Isn't that interesting! I noticed that too. So fun! Thanks for linking up today, Teresa!

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  5. Thanks for linking up with me and having a fun link up this week! I love teaching about penguins, so this was easy! Thanks for all of the ideas too!

    Andrea
    Reading Toward the Stars

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  6. Thanks so much Carla. I am so pleased this post came through my thread actually, as it is really timely. We are looking at animals from the Arctic and Antarctic in our literacy course this semester coming, so all of the links are AWESOME and very timely :) Your generosity in sharing is really appreciated...so that question re: penguins, was a sincere question and I feel a bit naive to admit that I thought penguins were also in the Arctic region before working on this for my literacy course, tbh. Keep up your great work! You are amazing and inspirational :) Kylie

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    1. Okay...all fixed up! That was my project for today...revised, created a sample of the research mini book (so cute and fun), and even did an instastory. I appreciate greatly your note and revision. I should have caught the error when I bought the clip art that I used. It was named Arctic Animals Clip Art, but included a penguin. I knew better and should have caught it when I taught the unit to my fourth and fifth graders. Goodness, we spent two weeks research penguins, so I knew.

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  7. Dear Carla, I love your work and I love your resources! I can't wait to check out your instastory - I don't think I have ever seen one of those :) You inspire so many, so thank you :) Kylie

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    1. p.s. Is there a link to the instastory, Carla?

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    2. There isn't a link. They are at the top of your instagram feed. They are live for 24 hours and then go away.

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