Planning a penguin theme for your preschooler(s)? In search of all the best penguin activities to create a penguin unit study?
Penguins are truly fascinating animals. I mean they’re birds that can’t fly, but sure can swim. They often stay with the same mate year after year, most species live in large colonies with thousands of other penguins, and all 17 species are found exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.
Plus, they’re just a really great topic to learn about in the winter.
In this post, we’ll cover all of our favorite penguin activities for preschoolers, incorporating math, literacy, logic, crafts, and more.
Penguin Activities for Preschoolers
Listed below are 9 different penguin activities that we did for our penguin unit study this year. All of the activities are Montessori-inspired, in that they provide a concrete, hands-on approach to teaching your preschooler.
Penguin Theme Ten Frames
Our first activity utilizes these penguin theme ten frames. This free printable activity works on number recognition, counting, and 1:1 correspondence.
Your preschooler would pick out a ten frame, recognize the number on that card, and then place the corresponding amount of fish in the slots on the card. As they’re working through this activity, you could ask them “How many fish did these penguins eat for dinner?”
I set out 4 ten frames each day for my preschooler to do, and we worked on this activity all week long.
Feed the Penguin His Colors
Our next activity is working on color recognition. Now, my preschooler has known her colors for quite some time, but this is a good review for her, and a great way to teach her younger brother his colors. Plus, it’s just a super fun activity for little ones.
For my preschooler, we really worked on listening and following directions for this activity. I would say to her “Can you feed the penguin a blue fish?” She would then have to search for the blue fish and then feed it to the penguin. And we would do this until we got through all the colors….and then did it again 3-4 more times.
As they’re feeding the penguin, they’re also working on developing those fine motor skills that are needed for writing.
I glued our penguin onto an old box and then used a box cutter to cut a hole in his beak. I also cut a little door out on the bottom back of the box, so the kids could retrieve the fish easily.
You can grab this printable over on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Montessori Penguin Puzzle
Next, we have a Montessori penguin puzzle.
We always try to incorporate puzzles somehow, because they’re great for logic, as well as fine motor.
I would set the pieces out on the side of the puzzle before placing it on the shelf, that way it’s kind of like an invitation for the kids to complete the puzzle.
Don't Break the Ice!
For logic and fine motor, we also played Don’t Break the Ice game.
This one was a ton of fun for the whole family.
Basically, the first player would take a mallet and then have to tap through a block of ice of their choice until it fell all the way through. Each player would take a turn doing this, but whoever made Phillip the Penguin fall was the loser for that round.
Next, we have our pre-writing activity.
I basically tried to cover characteristics that fit all species of penguins and not just the Antarctic ones.
My preschooler did very well writing her E and F, but for the P, she really preferred to just trace mine. Which is a-okay. I’m all about following the child’s lead.
South Pole Penguin Sensory Bin
One of our favorite activities from our penguin unit study was our Antarctic sensory bin.
For making the bin, we just followed the directions from this Arctic sensory bin, but just switched out the Arctic animals for some South Pole penguins.
I mixed baking soda and white hair conditioner to make the snow, found some blue glass gems at the Dollar Tree, and froze some water in a muffin pan. I also purchased a Safari Ltd Penguin TOOB and added some water over by where the ice is.
The kids had such a blast playing with this sensory bin. They made the penguins swim, counted the “rocks” and even licked the ice blocks once or twice. :/
We talked about how some penguins live in Antartica, how Emperor penguins live there all year long, how they stay warm, and how they’re still birds even though they can’t fly.
We always try to do arts and crafts as well, and I found this adorable wooden penguin at our local Dollar Tree.
My preschooler loves loves LOVES to paint, so I knew this would be a hit with her.
Free Penguin Coloring
I almost always have a coloring sheet for the kids to do as well.
I just find free ones online and print them off. I found this one over at Super Coloring Pages.
Obviously, I had to pick my favorite penguin the Gentoo, but they have lots of different species to choose from.
Penguin Living Books
Lastly, we have some of our favorite living books, all about penguins.
We really found quite the number of penguin books at our local library, but here are just a few of our top picks:
If You Were a Penguin – A short, but very sweet, rhyming story that teaches what you could do if you were a penguin.
Penguins! – Another awesome living book by Gail Gibbons. A great non-fiction read, packed with information about penguins.
National Geographic Kids: Penguins – A must-have for any little penguin lover. The pictures are stunning, and the facts are presented in a fun way.
Pierre the Penguin – A true story about an African penguin at the California Science Academy who needed some extra help growing back his feathers. Such a sweet story, being told by rhyme.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins – How can you forget about this classic? Mr. Popper’s Penguins is one of our all time faves. It makes such a good read-aloud or audiobook for youngsters to listen to.
The Polar Bear and Penguin Will Never Meet – The first page presents some basic information about the North Pole and South Pole, and then the rest of the book is actually a song. Your little one will never forget that a penguin and a polar bear will never meet with this one!
A Waddling Learning Adventure
Penguins are just so much fun to learn about. I mean, they waddle, toboggan, hop, and sing. How can that not make you smile?
If you have a little one that loves penguins, then I hope this post gave you some great ideas on how to create your own penguin unit study for your homeschool. Or, maybe you’ve got some awesome activities to add to your penguin themed classroom.
Now, get out there and explore those strange, curious birds!
What About You?
What are some of your favorite penguin activities for preschoolers? Share your best penguin ideas in the comments below and be sure to share this post with all your homeschool mom friends.