Discover More: Penguins Storia Teaching Guide
- Grades: 3–5
Big, beautiful images and amazing facts highlight this thorough, yet compelling, coverage of the world of penguins. All 17 types of penguins are introduced with information about their height, breeding area, population, diet, nests, habitats, and special features.
Interspersed throughout the book are topics that pertain to all penguins: the places they call home, how they travel on land and in the sea, their warm waterproof feathers, their predators and prey, plus how they breed, nest, and care for penguin babies. The book concludes with the extraordinary journey made by emperor penguins to breed in one of the harshest climates on Earth. The last pages focus on polar photography and the importance of protecting endangered penguins that are in danger from human threats.
The photographs and text work together to motivate young readers and enhance their understanding of these wonderful birds that have captured the imagination of the world. A digital companion book, Amazing Antarctica, can be downloaded for free with more information about the icy continent and its inhabitants.
Teaching the Book
Students will meet the world’s most popular bird—up close and personal—in this new-generation reference book. Discover More: Penguins introduces penguins to confident young readers through eye-catching photographs, fascinating facts, and highimpact design. The book provides an opportunity for class discussions about animal adaptation, main idea and details, and science content-area vocabulary. Activities will engage students in creating penguin fact sheets, penguin graphs, and penguin presentations based on research and creative projects.
Theme Focus: Animal Adaptation
Comprehension Focus: Main Idea and Details
Language Focus: Science Content-Area Vocabulary
Get Ready to Read
Penguin True or False
Engage students’ interest and prior knowledge with a true or false game about penguin facts. Read each of the following statements and ask students to write them down and mark them with a T for True or an F for False.
- Penguins are birds.
- Penguins eat seals.
- Penguins live on every continent.
- Penguin babies hatch from eggs.
- Penguins fly south for the winter.
Tell students that they will find out whether each statement is true or false as they read the book. Ask them to check their answers and correct them, if necessary.
Preview and Predict
Spend time with students on pages 2–3, going over the explanation of how the book works. Point out the different types of text and photographs in the book and the kinds of information they provide.
Science Content-Area Vocabulary
The book includes many content area words related to animal adaptation as it applies to penguins and their habitats. Encourage students to look for clues in the text and the illustrations to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words and then have them check the glossary or a dictionary definition.
Use Resource #1: Vocabulary Cards and distribute copies to students.
- camouflage, p. 16
- adapt, p. 20
- predator, p. 24
- prey, p. 24
- habitat, p. 28
- extinct, p. 44
- breed, p. 46
- bonding, p. 51
Words to Know
Discuss each vocabulary word in relation to the science theme of animal adaptation. Use the following questions as discussion prompts.
- How does a penguin’s coloring help camouflage it when swimming?
- How have penguins adapted to cold environments?
- How do penguins avoid being killed by their predators?
- Where do penguins find most of their prey?
- What penguin habitat has the harshest climate on earth?
- Why do you think the giant penguin became extinct?
- Where do penguins go to breed?
- How does bonding help a penguin chick survive?
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read aloud pages 6–7, modelingfor students how to approach the different chunks of text on the page. Draw their attention to the call-out lines that show the part of a photo the text is referencing. Also help them distinguish between text that is important and text that they might skim, such as the facts below each kind of penguin.
Encourage students to read the book independently but to share questions and reactions with a partner. Suggest that partners conference with each other after every four to six pages.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read and be ready to answer it when they’ve finished the book. Write the question on chart paper or have students write it in their reading journals. Why should we protect penguins?
Identify Main Idea and Details
Explain that the book is organized into important ideas called main ideas. The main ideas are supported by smaller ideas called details. Explain that the details tell more about the main ideas and support understanding of how penguins live in their environments. Display the spread on pages 14–15 titled “Penguins on land.” Read the text on both pages aloud. Then model how to identify the main idea and details in the text, using a graphic organizer.
First, I’ll ask: what is the most important idea? Is it that penguins look very funny when they are on land? No, that’s not important enough and doesn’t include all the information on the page. The important big idea that everything is about is: how penguins get around on land. I’ll write that in the center circle. What details support this main idea? I’ll write those around the main idea.
Main Idea: How penguins get around on land
Detail: Penguins stand upright on two feet
Detail: Big penguins walk slower
Detail: They slide on their tummies on ice
Detail: Sharp claws grip the ice
Use Resource #2: Identify Main Idea and Details for students to practice identifying main ideas and details. Pass out copies of the page and guide students to reread pages 20–21 and pages 52–53 and fill out the graphic organizers to identify main ideas and details.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
1. Animal Adaptation
Describe how penguins’ feathers have adapted to help them survive. (Sample answers: The feathers are packed closely together to trap heat. The feathers are oiled to make them waterproof. New feathers grow in each year.)
2. Main Idea and Details
What is a detail that tells more about this main idea: Penguins lay eggs that hatch into fluffy chicks? (Sample answers: Parents sit on the eggs for 30 to 60 days; most penguins lay two eggs, but only one will hatch; penguin eggs are thicker and tougher than those of other birds.)
3. Science Content-Area Vocabulary
Use the text and the photograph on pages 46–47 to figure out the meaning of the word colony (large group of animals that live together).
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
1. Text to Self
What is the most amazing fact in the book? How does the book change your ideas about penguins?
2. Text to World
How can the actions of humans harm penguins?
3. Text to Text
Do you like the way the text and photographs are arranged in this book? Do you like reading it more or less than other books that have the text all together in one place? How do the photographs help you understand the information about penguins?
Content Area Connections
On pages 7–11, the book shows the relative heights of the 17 different kinds of penguins. Guide students to create a bar graph that shows the heights of five different penguins that they select. Draw a sample graph with inches on the vertical axis and penguin names on the horizontal axis.
North Versus South
Extend the study of the earth’s hemispheres and poles on pages 7 and 13. Encourage students to research the differences between the northern and southern hemispheres and differences between the North and South Poles. Suggest that they report on their findings to the class using Google Earth on the white board.
Pages 70–73 feature an interview with polar photographer Cherry Alexander plus her award-winning photo of penguins. Guide students to the book prompt on wildlife photography. Challenge them to snap photos of animals in their community and share a slideshow with the class.
Several outstanding films have been made about penguins, ranging from the animated Happy Feet to the award-winning documentary March of the Penguins. Consider showing a penguin film in class or suggest that interested students watch one at home. After viewing, discuss with students how the film presented penguins differently compared to the book and what they learned from both.
Assign students to write an explanatory paragraph about penguins that live on and around Antarctica and how they have adapted to their cold environment. Instruct students to write a strong introductory sentence that presents the main idea. Then guide them to find four to five details that support their main idea. These might include details about how penguins’ bodies adapt to cold weather or how their behaviors help them survive in Antarctica.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student an opportunity to answer the big question. Encourage students to support their answers with details and evidence from the text. Tell them there is no one right answer. Why should we protect penguins?
A Penguin Field Guide
Tell students to create a page for a field guide about penguins. Guide students to choose their favorite penguin to write about. Make copies of the printable, Big Activity: Penguin Field Guide and distribute to students. Explain how to add specific markings and other features to their penguin outline. Guide students to add the penguin’s features to the five call-outs and write three facts in the Fact Box.
This Storia e-book has the following enrichments to enhance students’ comprehension of the book.
- Video (3)
- Touch the Page
- Multiple Choice Pictures
- Multiple Choice Text
- Word Match
- Scratch & See
- Jigsaw Puzzle
- Word Bird
About the Author
Penny Arlon is an author who writes children’s nonfiction, taking inspiration from her own children. Her books range from pre-school to family reference, and include the Art Attack books, based on the award-winning CITV children’s television programme, and all 14 titles in Dorling Kindersley’s Eye Know series.
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