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A Look at Penguin Life



  • Arts & Humanities
    --- Film
  • Science
    --Life Sciences
  • Social Studies
    --Current Events
  • Grades

    Grades 2-up

    News Content

    A new film about penguins will appear on television November 12.

    Anticipation Guide

    Before reading, ask students to respond to these questions. Challenge them to come to a consensus -- to agree on a single response to each question. (Answers will be revealed as they read this weeks news story, "A Look at Penguin Life.)
  • Are there any volcanoes in Antarctica?
  • How long does a leopard seal grow to be?
  • How long does it take an Emperor penguins egg to hatch?
  • How cold does it get in Antarctica?
  • What is a baby penguin called?
  • How many different species of penguins are there?
  • How long can a penguin hold its breath under the water?

    News Words

    Introduce the words in the News Word Box on the students printable page: volcano, waddle, survive, island, active, temperature, Chinstrap, and Emperor. (Note: Explain that Chinstrap and Emperor are two species of penguins that students will read about in the article.) Ask students to use one of those words to complete each of these statements:
  • Ronnie likes to watch as the duck and her ducklings _____ toward the pond. (waddle)
  • My mother makes me wear a sweatshirt when the _____ dips below 60 degrees. (temperature)
  • Raccoons are more _____ at night than they are during the daytime. (active)
  • Kilauea is the most active _____ on the island of Hawaii. (volcano)
  • Cuba is an _____ located in the Atlantic Ocean 90 miles south of Florida. (island)
  • My neighbors palm tree did not _____ the hurricane. (survive)

    Read the News

    Click for a printable version of this week's news story A Look at Penguin Life.

    Reading the News

    You might use a variety of approaches to reading the news:

    * Read aloud the news story to students as they follow along.

    * Students might first read the news story to themselves; then call on individual students to read the news aloud for the class.

    * Arrange students into small groups. Each student in the group will read a paragraph of the story. As that student reads, others might underline important information or write a note in the margin of the story. After each student finishes reading, others in the group might say something -- a comment, a question, a clarification -- about the text.

    More Facts to Share

    You might share these additional facts with students after they have read this weeks news story.

  • All penguin species live in the Southern Hemisphere. But they dont all live in cold climes. Several species live in tropical areas, and one species has also been seen feeding north of the equator!
  • Penguins feed on krill, squid, and fish.
  • Penguins have a superb sense of smell.
  • The Emperor penguin is the largest penguin species. Adults average 3-1/2 feet tall and about 75 pounds. The smallest species, the Little Blue penguin (sometimes called the Fairy penguin), is about 15 inches tall and 2 pounds.
  • In Antarctica, winter begins in June, which is the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The Emperor penguin is just about the only species that does not leave Antarctica for the harshest part of winter.
  • Female Emperor penguins lay one egg at a time. Then the female heads to the sea to feed while the male takes care of the egg. Male Emperor penguins dont eat for the entire time (about two months) that they sit with their eggs. During that time, an Emperor loses half its weight. When the mother and father penguins reunite, both partners take care of the chick. They recognize their chick by its voice.
  • Emperors are famous for clumping together in huddled masses. They take turns moving to the center of the group where it is warmest.
  • A penguins colors help protect it from enemies. Its white belly makes it difficult for predators such as the sea leopard to see penguins swimming above them. Their dark feathers on top make it difficult to spot them swimming from above.
  • The Adelie (rhymes with smelly) penguin is the most common of all penguins in Antarctica. They nest in groups of 6 up to the hundreds. They collect pebbles to build their nests.
  • Penguins dont seem to fear humans.

    Comprehension Check

    Revisit the Anticipation Guide at the top of this lesson; ask students to respond again to the questions. How did their responses before the lesson differ from their responses after reading the news article about penguins?
  • Are there any volcanoes in Antarctica? (yes; according to the TV program Penguins of the Antarctic, 2 million Chinstrap penguins live on Zavodovski Island, which is an active volcano)
  • How long can a leopard seal grow? (12 feet long; according to scientists, female leopard seals grow larger than males -- they can weigh up to 990 pounds and measure more than 13 feet in length)
  • How long does it take an Emperor penguins egg to hatch? (about two months)
  • How cold does it get in Antarctica? (it can get to be 50 degrees below zero; actually, the record low temperature on Earth -- 129 degrees below zero -- was recorded at Vostok, Antarctica, on July 21, 1983)
  • What is a baby penguin called? (a chick)
  • How many different species of penguins are there? (between 17 and 19)
  • How long can a penguin hold its breath under water? (20 minutes. Note: The Emperor penguin can dive the deepest of any bird; scientists have measured Emperors that can hold their breath for more than 20 minutes.)

    Think About the News
    Discuss the Think About the News question that appears on the students news page. You might use the think-pair-share strategy with students to discuss this question. If you use this strategy

  • First, arrange students into pairs to discuss and list responses to the question.
  • Then merge two pairs of students together to create groups of four students. Have them discuss and add to the ideas they generated in their pairs.
  • Next, merge two groups of four students to form groups of eight students. Have students create a new combined list of ideas.
  • Finally, bring all students together for a class discussion about what it would be like to live in Antarctica.

    Follow-Up Activities

    Compare and Contrast. Challenge students to select any two breeds of penguins and to use a Venn diagram (alternate diagram source) to compare the species. The sites listed below are excellent sources of information about a wide variety of penguins.

  • Antarctic Connection: 17 Species of Penguins
  • Penguin Habitat and Species
  • Penguins Around the World
  • Penguins By Species

    Science. Baby penguins are called chicks. (Sometimes they are called fledglings.) What are other baby animals called? Arrange students into groups. Provide each group with the same list of animals. Have students work together to identify what the babies of each of those species is called. Which group gets the most correct? You might use this list of Names of Males, Females, Babies, and Groups of Animals as your resource. You might also make this a library-based activity; students can use library books to find the names of baby animals they dont know off the top of their heads.

    Art. Students will have fun as they create this penguin from a juice bottle and paper mache. For more fun activities related to penguins, see Penguin Activities; among the activities you will find there is a simple penguin art activity (activity #34).


    Use the Comprehension Check (above) as an assessment. Or have students work on their own (in their journals) or in their small groups to respond to the Think About the News questions on the news story page or in the Comprehension Check section.

    Lesson Plan Source

    Education World

    National Standards

    National Standards

    FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
    GRADES K - 4
    NA-VA.K-4.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NA-VA.5-8.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NA-VA.9-12.1 Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
    NA-VA.9-12.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

    LANGUAGE ARTS: English
    GRADES K - 12
    NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
    NL-ENG.K-12.8 Developing Research Skills
    NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

    GRADES K - 4
    NS.K-4.3 Life Science
    NS.K-4.4 Earth and Space Science
    GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.3 Life Science
    NS.5-8.4 Earth and Space Science
    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.3 Life Science
    NS.9-12.4 Earth and Space Science

    See recent news stories in Education Worlds News Story of the Week Archive.

    Article by Ellen Delisio and Gary Hopkins
    Education World®
    Copyright © 2006 Education World