Wednesday, October 24, 2007


At our local zoo, they have recently put in a penguin exhibit. Penguins seem to be VERY popular these days, thanks to movies like March of the Penguins, and Happy Feet. Since we learn about a different animal every couple of weeks for science, I decided we should learn about penguins. It is absolutely my kids' favorite exhibit at the zoo. So I figured that it would be easy to get them into this lesson. And it was!
It's so easy to find information and children's worksheets on-line. It literally took me less than 20 minutes to find enough on penguins that was age appropriate for my kids. Here is a great penguin site. There is a link on that page for penguin activities that you can pick from. Our final "assignment" was to pick one type of penguin and learn more about it. Here are the questions. We took our questions to the zoo, and observed the penguins (again!) and read all the information provided by the zoo about their penguins, which are Humboldt penguins.

Here is some information we found online at the zoo website if you are interested (the picture is mine):

Humboldt penguins are only found along the pacific coast of Chile and Peru in South America. The total world population of Humboldt penguins currently stands at approximately 12,000 breeding pairs, with about 8,000 pairs in Chile and the remaining 4,000 pairs in Peru. The wild population has undergone a decline with the major causes stemming from human interference. These include guano collection (used in fertilizer production) in breeding areas, egg collection, hunting for food as well as competition for available fish.
Humboldt penguins have a black and white underside, with a black band along the chest. Their body is plumper in the middle because of a fat layer that protects them from the cold. These penguins weigh between 9-11 pounds with a body length of 26 inches. Like all birds, penguins have feathers, but their feathers are modified to help them “fly” through the water. These outer feathers also act like a diver’s wetsuit and keep the cold oceanic water away from the soft, fluffy down feathers that keep their body warm. Strong, stiff flippers help them swim up to 7.5 Kph (5 mph).

We had fun learning about penguins. We did not go overboard, and did just enough fact finding, coloring, and creating to keep both kids interested and engaged in learning. Isn't that the key?

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Tom Woods