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40 Penguins Movie Lesson Plans, Activities, and Resources for a Nature-Based Study Unit
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Who doesn’t love penguins?
With their adorable wobble, quirky personalities, and distinct coloring (I mean, they look like they are in little tuxedos for goodness sake), these flightless wonders are consistently listed as one of the most popular birds.
Aside from the cute factor, penguins are actually fascinating animals.
14 Penguin Facts and Information
Here are some fun penguin facts for kids:
- Contrary to popular belief, penguins really are birds and not mammals.
- Spending up to 75% of their lives in water, penguins survive in treacherous habitats.
- Penguins can be found all over the Southern Hemisphere, from as far north as the warm waters of the Galapagos Islands to the icy waters of Antarctica.
- Emperor penguins can grow as tall as 4 feet!
- Penguins pant to stay cool . . . just like dogs!
- In penguin societies, the male incubates the egg while the female goes out to hunt. The male even produces milk (from his throat) for the baby penguin (called a “chick”)!
- Penguins get rid of all the saltwater they ingest through a special gland behind their eyes, then they “sneeze” it (or excrete) the water out of their beaks.
- Penguins go through “catastrophic molt” where they molt and lose all of their feathers at one time.
- During catastrophic molt, the penguins can’t go into the water. Instead, they have to fast during this period!
- Most birds have hollow bones, but penguins have dense bones that makes it easier for them to dive.
- Penguins are flightless. Nope. They can’t fly!
- Penguins don’t have teeth. Instead, they have “spines” on the inside of their beaks and on their tongues.
- Penguins eat small rocks! Many scientist speculate that this helps with digestion and may also help weigh them down while diving.
- Penguins cannot breathe underwater!
About DisneyNature Penguins Movie
While there are over 17 different species and subspecies of penguins, Disneynature’s Penguins movie focuses primarily on an Adélie penguin, named Steve.
From the website:
“Disneynature’s all-new feature film “Penguins” is a coming-of-age story about an Adélie penguin named Steve who joins millions of fellow males in the icy Antarctic spring on a quest to build a suitable nest, find a life partner and start a family. None of it comes easily for him, especially considering he’s targeted by everything from killer whales to leopard seals, who unapologetically threaten his happily ever after. From the film-making team behind “Bears” and “Chimpanzee,” Disneynature’s “Penguins” opens in theaters nationwide in time for Earth Day 2019. Narrated by Ed Helms.”
DisneyNature Penguins Movie Trailer
About DisneyNature (Disney Documentaries)
DisneyNature is an “independent film unit of Walt Disney Studios that produces nature documentary films.”
You may recognize some of their Disney documentaries like:
(And, many, many others!)
We have always been big fans of the other Disneynature films and this year we had specifically chosen zoology as the primary focus in our science lessons.
So, the release of this movie was a perfect time to learn as much as possible about penguins and other arctic life.
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The Importance of Zoology Studies for Children
While a gigantic field to tackle, zoology is so important for children to learn about.
From their earliest beginnings, children are often immersed with animals of all kinds.
Stuffed animals, animals on clothing, animals to associate with letters of the alphabet, animals in songs and nursery rhymes (remember those blind mice and those doggone monkeys jumping on the bed?!)
Fostering a child’s natural interest in animals is a great place to start to explain how humans are affecting other animals, their environment, and one another.
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Disneynature Penguins Movie Lesson Plans & Activities
Here are some great ways to incorporate an educational lesson on penguins into your child’s learning:
- Visit the Disneynature website to find educational materials like student activity packets and an educator’s guide.
- Sea World Parks and Entertainment has a rather extensive collection of educational resources all about penguins including information on their physical characteristics, communication, diet & feeding habits, and behavior. You can also view a short documentary on ShamuTV’s “Saving a Species” episode about penguins.
- Learn about some of the daily threats penguins face and find ways to help them through conservation efforts at the World Wildlife Fund.
- View a slideshow and research fun facts about other Adélie penguins like Steve from National Geographic.
- Study the similarities and differences with this comprehensive, illustrated list of all penguin species here.
- View Adélie satellite tracking and an automated penguin monitoring system at the Australian Antarctica Division’s website.
- Learn about penguins’ physical and behavioral adaptations that help them thrive in their environment.
- Step into Penguin Point on the National Aviary’s website.
- Brush up on math place values with this penguin themed activity from Teachers Pay Teachers.
- Learn how penguins stay warm and dry in frigid arctic temperatures with this penguin science experiment.
- For younger children, these printable penguin cards are perfect to help visualize beginning blend sounds.
- Reveal the mystery picture (spoiler: it’s a penguin) while using this alphanumeric grid.
- Penguins are impressive divers! Learn how they survive such deep depths on one breath in this article from LiveScience.
- Download this great unit study or mini-book from Simply Kinder.
- Get little ones to move their bodies and learn about how penguins carry their young with this STEM based activity.
- Engage in some really fun sensory play and observe ice melting with different STEM based experiments.
Penguin-themed Crafts and Projects
- Practice drawing a penguin.
- Check out this FREE, comprehensive penguin lapbook from Life of a Homeschool Mom.
- Make this simple, yet adorable, penguin craft out of paper plates.
- Upcycle some of your unwanted waste items and create a paper roll penguin or a water bottle penguin. Your child will increase their creativity while decreasing their carbon footprint to help the environment and penguins!
- Build a penguin diorama.
- Keep little hands busy with this fun weaving paper plate craft.
Books about Penguins
- Read Magic Tree House “Eve of the Emperor Penguin” and accompanying non-fiction companion Fact Tracker “Penguins and Antarctica” by Mary Pope Osbourne.
- National Geographic Kids Penguins by Anne Schreiber
- Penguins of the World by Wayne Lynch
- Octonauts and the Adélie Penguins by Grosset and Dunlap
- When the Sun Shines on Antarctica by Irene Latham
- Antarctic Antics by Judy Sierra
- The Emperor’s Egg by Martin Jenkins
Other Penguin Movies
If you love “Penguins” as much as we did, you will soon be looking for other videos that have these lovable little birds in them. Here are some of our other favorite penguin movies:
- Popper’s Penguins
- Happy Feet 1 & 2
- March of the Penguins
- Surf’s Up 1 & 2
- The Penguins of Madagascar
- Oddball and the Penguins
Educational Penguin Toys and Games
- Perfect for comparing and contrasting penguin species, the Penguins Toobs Mini Figurine Set would also be a great addition to a student’s diorama!
- Children can practice math concepts like numbering, patterns, sorting, and more with this adorable Penguins on Ice Math Activity Set. It includes 100 multicolored penguins and 10 ice bars.
- Count-a-Penguin Counting Kit allows children to sort, count, and make observations through a hands-on activity. This kit includes 75 penguins, counting cups, laminated number cards, and more.
- This adorable toy and teaching tool is a penguin shaped scale.
- Discover how penguins adapt in the wild and create four fascinating molds of different penguin species, including the Rockhopper, Emperor, African, and King penguins, in the Eyewitness Penguin Kit.
Unlike the adorable penguins in Disneynature’s “Penguins”, learning is certainly not black and white.
Each of our children has his or her unique way of collecting and interpreting life around them.
I hope the above list provides you with a nice variety of tools to help your child retain some interesting facts about the amazing penguin!
Contributing writer Samantha Lee is a homeschooling mom to her three sons and blogger in the Pittsburgh area. As a wife, homeschooling parent, and freelancer, she aspires to grow academically, faithfully, and wholly everyday. Follow her on Facebook!