THE GREAT PENGUIN RESCUE
(Millbrook/Lerner, 2017) is about African penguins.
A MOTHER'S JOURNEY (Charlesbridge, 2005) is about Emperor penguins.
PENGUINS: GROWING UP WILD (Currently Available on Amazon Kindle) is about Adelie penguins.
I love penguins because I had the wonderful opportunity twice to live with 160,000+ Adelies in Antarctica during the summer while they raised their chicks, watch Emperors from an icebreaker while they were riding on icebergs (off duty from wintertime egg hatching) and see even more kinds of penguins (Fairy Blue and Yellow-eyed) in New Zealand.
So, as I celebrate my newest penguin book, I wanted to share some activities for children to enjoy learning about penguins.
HOW PENGUINS STAY DRY
First, use the link to download a printable picture of an African penguin--two for each child.
The picture is labelled telling children how to correctly color an African penguin with one exception.
Check out this real photo of an African penguin on the cover of THE GREAT PENGUIN RESCUE. African penguins always have that pinkish area by their eyes. Be sure children color the white areas too.
Next, supply children with paper cups of water and eyedroppers. Have them drip five drops of water on the uncolored African penguin. Then have them drip five drops on the colored African penguin. Ask, "What difference do you see?"
The children will observe the water soaks into the uncolored penguin and beads up on the colored on. African penguins, like all penguins, have a special gland that lets them spread an oily coat over their feathers. Like the wax, that lets their feather shed water. And penguin feathers are incredibly small (I know because I've held some in my hand). But the tiny feathers tuck tightly over each other, like roof shingles, to form a thick, watertight coat. In fact, penguins have more feathers than most birds--as many as 100 feather per square inch.
What looks pink above the
penguin’s eyes is a special
body part that keeps it
from overheating. As the
penguin’s body warms
up, blood flow increases
to that area. The lack of
feathers over that area
lets heat radiate away as
the blood flows through it.
That cools the penguin.
Emperor Dad On Duty
A MOTHER'S JOURNEY shares the less familiar story of what female emperors do while the dad's hunker down incubating their egg through Antarctica's freezing cold winter. I know what winter in Antarctica is like. I experienced it firsthand at McMurdo Station.
Winds could be strong enough to lean into. Snow like tiny ice-glitter would fill the air. And temperatures averaged -50F to -70F (painfully cold to breathe) and dropped as low as -129F. It's an impressive cold.
So the females get credit for traveling through this--in the dark--to reach open water and to feed, stay strong, and return just in time to feed their newly hatched chick. And the males get credit for staying the winter with the egg tucked into their brood patch (to share body warmth) and hold the egg on top of their feet to keep it off the cold ice and snow--even as they shift around with the huddle of other males. This activity will let kids get the idea.
Use any kind of baggie--even a self-sealing plastic bag full of pennies or anything to give it some weight. This is "the emperor's egg". Ideally, each child needs an egg. First, have the children the egg on top of their shoes and practice waddling to move slowly without losing their egg.
After a little practice, children are ready to be in a large huddle with their eggs on their feet. Tell them to pack as close together as they can. Then challenge them that when you call "MOVE" everyone at the outside of the huddle shifts one person to the inside. Repeat several times.
It's fine for anyone who drops their eggs to return it to their feet. But point out in real life that puts the chick developing inside at risk of not surviving to hatch.
And check out these sites for lots more penguin discovery-fun activities.