Hello everyone! I hope that y’all are doing well. Last week I blogged about the beginning of our Antarctica unit (you can read about that by clicking here if you missed it!) and today, I’d love to catch you up on what was happening in our classroom this past week!
After learning much about the geography and habitats in Antarctica, this week we focused predominantly on the animals that live there. After watching a few videos on the animals of Antarctica, and reading a few books, penguins instantly became the favorite animal.
Due to this reason, I set out many centers and activities that helped my students learn more about penguins!
To begin the week, we practiced drawing and labeling penguins by tracing our Montessori puzzle.
We read the book, “The Emperor’s Egg” and learned how emperor penguins take care of their young.
We used indoor snowballs and practiced walking with eggs at our feet.
This video also taught us a lot!
After watching it, we pretended that we were mommy and daddy penguins and worked on passing our eggs carefully from one parent to the other. It was much more difficult than my students thought it was going to be! They were very impressed with how easy the penguins made it look in the video!
My students wondered just how cold the water was in Antarctica so I set up an experiment that allowed them to experience how very cold the Southern Ocean is. For this, I set out mason jars, thermometers, rock salt, and ice. We practiced counting forwards by tens and then backwards into negative numbers by tens. We talked about what a negative temperature was and how to read the thermometers.
My students explored how cold they could get the water by adding ice and rock salt to their mason jars. We talked about how scientists have to be patient and wait to see how the temperatures would drop.
Slowly, my students added spoonful by spoonful of rock salt to their jars and then checked their thermometers.
The conversations were fantastic during this experiment! They loved checking their thermometers and were amazed at how cold the water was getting!
We set them in a sensory tub and decided to see how cold they could get if we left them alone for thirty minutes. You wouldn’t believe it, but we had water that was -12*F by the end of this time!
The next day, (since this group loves crafts) we completed a penguin craft. For this, we did not use templates or anything. I simply showed them how they could cut out a penguin, and they took it from there!
They came out really cute!
That day we also completed some really fun penguin themed centers.
The first center was, “Are you taller than an emperor penguin?” I drew and painted a life sized emperor penguin (He measures 4 feet 3 inches) and my students compared themselves to him.
After that, they measured how tall they were in indoor snowballs and filled out their recording page. (They are available in my Antarctica packet on TpT.)
They really loved this and many brought their parents back into the classroom so that they could see if their moms and dads were taller than the penguin! 🙂
Another favorite (independent) center was creating a life cycle of a penguin hat.
For this, my students colored and cut out all of the pieces and then glued them onto a sentence strip to make a hat! (They love hats!)
How cute do they look?
After learning so much about penguins, we decided that we should share our newly acquired knowledge with the rest of school. To do this, we are in the middle of creating a mural for the hallway and researching and writing reports to share with our preschool students.
What does this look like in the classroom?
Well, first, my students decided on what “team” they wanted to be a part of for our mural. We have a habitat team and an animal team. The habitat team was responsible for mixing paint colors for the mural and collaborating on what they thought it should look like.
The animal team was responsible for creating the animals to add to our mural.
On Wednesday morning, the mural team mixed and painted the Southern Ocean while the animal team got to work drawing and painting animals. While my habitat team conversed about what they wanted the background to look like, I got my animal team set up. We got out resource books, paper, Sharpies, and watercolor paints. Each student selected an animal (or animals) and got busy drawing them, tracing them with Sharpies, and painting them with the watercolors. Once they were set up, I checked in on my mural team who was then ready to start painting. They got on smocks and the paint colors they wanted to use and got right to work.
To give you an idea of what this looked like, the following pictures were all occurring at the same time.
The next day, the mural team added the sunset to our mural, and the animal team carefully cut out their animals, wrote out labels, and retraced their Sharpie lines so that we could add them to our mural.
This is what it currently looks like.
My animal team wanted to add “life sized” penguins to the hallway to go along with their reports so they worked on these during that second day as well. (They are drawn to size as well!)
The process above took us about 75 minutes.
During guided reading, my students were very busy reading, researching, and writing about their penguins. We used the program called Pebble Go to assist us in our research process and it made it SO much easier! The program actually reads the pages to the students and they loved taking ownership of what they were learning. I am so blown away by the work they are producing!
What is really remarkable is that during exploration centers, my students are revisiting the iPads to add more information to their research packets!
I can’t wait to share with you our finished products! If you want to complete these lessons and activities, they are available in my Antarctica packet available if you click here!