Mr. Popper's Penguins Discussion Guide
Great ideas for teaching with the book, from developing a KWL chart on penguins to creating book commercials.
- Grades: 3–5
About this book
You might use one or more of the following ideas to introduce the book to the class:
- Write the year “1938” on the chalkboard. Ask students how long ago that was. Then have them think of things that have been invented or come into common use since 1938. Examples include: television, VCRs, fax machines, cellular telephones, computers, tapes, CDs, copy machines. Tell students that the book they will read was first published in 1938.
- Cut out a picture of a penguin from a magazine and place it in an envelope. Tell the class that the contents of the envelope hold a clue to the story. Play a Twenty Questions game in which students try to guess what is in the envelope by asking questions answerable by “yes” or “no.”
- Once students see the picture in the envelope, develop a KWL chart about penguins. In the first column, list what students already know or think they know. In the second column list what students would like to know, and in the last column list what they learn after reading the book.
- Have students read through the Table of Contents in Mr. Popper's Penguins and discuss what the different chapter titles suggest.
Partner Project: Selling the Story
Have students work with a partner to create a book commercial for Mr. Popper's Penguins. Students might choose to write testimonials or use another advertising approach. Encourage students to use vocabulary words from the book. Have each team present its commercial to the class.
Remind students that one way the Poppers paid for the penguins' upkeep was to make testimonials, a kind of ad, in which the penguins were shown using a canned shrimp product. Discuss with students how testimonials entice people to try a product. Then have students try writing a testimonial for another product that the penguins might help sell.
Students may not be familiar with all the words in this book. To prepare the class, review this list with them before or during their reading. After researching and discussing the meanings, you might have students try one of the following activities:
- Act out these words: pompous, tobogganed, stupor, strut, subdued, promenade, reclining, spar, prostrate
- Illustrate these words: spectacles, debris, derby, troupers, icebox, rookery
- Use these words in a sentence: expedition, missionary, trilled, reproach, droll, indulgence, burly, judiciously, haggard, testimonial