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January 15, 2018

Full STEAM Ahead: Preschoolers and Penguins

By Sandra Carrillo
Grades PreK–K

    Although we should enjoy our winter break, as teachers it is almost second nature for us to spend most of our time planning out what themes we are going to teach in January. We search through our units, choose specific activities, and finally decide how we are going to integrate all content areas into those important thematic units. In January, popular units involve studying Arctic regions: the animals that live there, the environment, and climate and weather.

    In El Paso, Texas we don't get much of a winter so often our children have difficulty relating to what it feels like to have snowy days and severely cold weather. It becomes a challenge to create experiences for them to make those real-life connections. This January, I figured a way to teach about penguins to kids in any climate in a STEAM lesson.

    So, in honor of Penguin Awareness Day (which lands on January 20), here are few tips to introduce a cool STEAM unit.

    Science: Keeping Warm in the Arctic

    Vocabulary: waddle, frigid, huddle, flock

    Sometimes just looking at pictures or reading books is not enough for students to truly understand certain concepts. This is when it becomes increasingly important to provide hands-on opportunities. Understanding how penguins survive in such frigid temperatures can be hard to comprehend and children may ask questions about how they are able to keep warm. The best way to answer this question is to allow them to feel for themselves.

    The January issue of My Big World has an excellent extension lesson that allows children to explore ways that penguins adapt to their environment. For a limited time, this issue is available to all Top Teaching readers. Please click here to follow through on the activities below!

    Show children a picture of penguins huddled up together.

    Start with the question: Why are all those penguins so close together? Explain: When they huddle together, their body heat helps keep each other warm. Penguins huddle in a circle and take turns being in the middle.

    Take your students outside on a cold and windy day. (Even in warmer climates, temperatures vary somewhat!) Have them stand around separately and then have them huddle close together. Allow them to take turns being in the middle. 

    Follow up with questions such as: Did you feel warmer in the middle of the huddle than when you were standing alone? Is the spot in the middle the warmest? Why?

    Technology: Using Technology to Learn More About Penguins

    In addition to the My Big World January edition, there are other resources where you can find short videos that show the wonderful world of penguins. For example National Geographic Kids has a great video on Emperor penguins.

    If you have iPads in your classroom I recommend using the application Masterpiece by Osmo. You can do a search for penguins and your students will be able to draw the different types of penguins that you have been studying. 

    I also created a simple memory game by printing out pictures of different types of penguins on cardstock (wallet size).  Children can play this game and practice learning the names of the penguins.

    Engineering: Creating a Penguin Habitat

    Vocabulary: habitat

    After children have had an opportunity to look at a variety of videos and books about penguin habitats, encourage them to create their own. 

    Materials: plastic bin, small penguin toys and/or penguin cut-outs, white Styrofoam, cotton balls, blue construction paper, tissue paper, LEGO blocks, swimming noodle (cut into pieces)

    Set up an Antarctic habitat bin for children to create and explore. Lay out a variety of materials for children to create an Antarctic habitat. Have a variety of pictures and books showing a penguin's habitat. Model how you would use a variety of materials to create a habitat for penguins.  

     

    Art: Creative Expression Through the Arts

    As if there wasn't already enough going on in January, it is also International Creativity Month! Just as it is important for children to learn math and science concepts, it is equally important that they are provided with opportunities to creatively express themselves. 

    I feel it is always important to tie in a great book with any lesson! I have chosen If You Were a Penguin by Wendell and Florence Minor.

    After reading the story, brainstorm with the students what they think they could do if they were penguins. Provide them with materials to create thumbprint "penguins" on a piece of paper and then draw details of the action that the penguin is doing. Provide them with a variety of materials to add their picture.  Then have them come up and tell you what they drew.  Begin with the sentence stem, "If I were a penguin, I could ___________."  Each child's creation will be included in a class book.

    Materials: construction paper, ink pad, markers

    Sentence stem:  If I were a penguin, I would_______________.

     

    Math: I Am Taller Than a ____________ Penguin

    Vocabulary: taller, shorter, Gentoo penguin, Rockhopper penguin, Little Blue penguin, Emperor penguin

    Did you know that an adult emperor penguin is taller than a pre-kindergartner? The fun thing about this activity is that children are given an opportunity to compare their size to the real-life sizes of four different penguins. They can stand next to them and compare their height to that of different penguins while also using important vocabulary and sentence stems to compare.

    Create real life size drawings of the following penguins using these measurements:

    Emperor penguin: 48 in.

    Gentoo penguin: 30 in.

    Rockhopper penguin: 22 in.

    Little Blue penguin: 15 in.

    I have to confess I recruited the help of my own little artist at home to help me. My 10-year old son Andrew will jump at the chance to draw anything, so he was more than willing to help his mom out with this task.  

    Display each penguin on a wall in your classroom or outside in the hallway. Children will be able to stand next to each penguin and compare their height.  Model using the following sentence stems: 

    I am taller than a ___________ penguin.  

    I am shorter than a __________ penguin.

     

     

    I hope the month of January is filled with love and learning for you and your students. Please share your comments with me. I would love for you to share your ideas and comments with me. You can also follow me on Twitter @loves2teachpk2

    Warmly,

    Sandy

    Additional book recommendations:

    It is always a good practice to have a variety of both fiction and nonfiction books readily available.

     

     

    Although we should enjoy our winter break, as teachers it is almost second nature for us to spend most of our time planning out what themes we are going to teach in January. We search through our units, choose specific activities, and finally decide how we are going to integrate all content areas into those important thematic units. In January, popular units involve studying Arctic regions: the animals that live there, the environment, and climate and weather.

    In El Paso, Texas we don't get much of a winter so often our children have difficulty relating to what it feels like to have snowy days and severely cold weather. It becomes a challenge to create experiences for them to make those real-life connections. This January, I figured a way to teach about penguins to kids in any climate in a STEAM lesson.

    So, in honor of Penguin Awareness Day (which lands on January 20), here are few tips to introduce a cool STEAM unit.

    Science: Keeping Warm in the Arctic

    Vocabulary: waddle, frigid, huddle, flock

    Sometimes just looking at pictures or reading books is not enough for students to truly understand certain concepts. This is when it becomes increasingly important to provide hands-on opportunities. Understanding how penguins survive in such frigid temperatures can be hard to comprehend and children may ask questions about how they are able to keep warm. The best way to answer this question is to allow them to feel for themselves.

    The January issue of My Big World has an excellent extension lesson that allows children to explore ways that penguins adapt to their environment. For a limited time, this issue is available to all Top Teaching readers. Please click here to follow through on the activities below!

    Show children a picture of penguins huddled up together.

    Start with the question: Why are all those penguins so close together? Explain: When they huddle together, their body heat helps keep each other warm. Penguins huddle in a circle and take turns being in the middle.

    Take your students outside on a cold and windy day. (Even in warmer climates, temperatures vary somewhat!) Have them stand around separately and then have them huddle close together. Allow them to take turns being in the middle. 

    Follow up with questions such as: Did you feel warmer in the middle of the huddle than when you were standing alone? Is the spot in the middle the warmest? Why?

    Technology: Using Technology to Learn More About Penguins

    In addition to the My Big World January edition, there are other resources where you can find short videos that show the wonderful world of penguins. For example National Geographic Kids has a great video on Emperor penguins.

    If you have iPads in your classroom I recommend using the application Masterpiece by Osmo. You can do a search for penguins and your students will be able to draw the different types of penguins that you have been studying. 

    I also created a simple memory game by printing out pictures of different types of penguins on cardstock (wallet size).  Children can play this game and practice learning the names of the penguins.

    Engineering: Creating a Penguin Habitat

    Vocabulary: habitat

    After children have had an opportunity to look at a variety of videos and books about penguin habitats, encourage them to create their own. 

    Materials: plastic bin, small penguin toys and/or penguin cut-outs, white Styrofoam, cotton balls, blue construction paper, tissue paper, LEGO blocks, swimming noodle (cut into pieces)

    Set up an Antarctic habitat bin for children to create and explore. Lay out a variety of materials for children to create an Antarctic habitat. Have a variety of pictures and books showing a penguin's habitat. Model how you would use a variety of materials to create a habitat for penguins.  

     

    Art: Creative Expression Through the Arts

    As if there wasn't already enough going on in January, it is also International Creativity Month! Just as it is important for children to learn math and science concepts, it is equally important that they are provided with opportunities to creatively express themselves. 

    I feel it is always important to tie in a great book with any lesson! I have chosen If You Were a Penguin by Wendell and Florence Minor.

    After reading the story, brainstorm with the students what they think they could do if they were penguins. Provide them with materials to create thumbprint "penguins" on a piece of paper and then draw details of the action that the penguin is doing. Provide them with a variety of materials to add their picture.  Then have them come up and tell you what they drew.  Begin with the sentence stem, "If I were a penguin, I could ___________."  Each child's creation will be included in a class book.

    Materials: construction paper, ink pad, markers

    Sentence stem:  If I were a penguin, I would_______________.

     

    Math: I Am Taller Than a ____________ Penguin

    Vocabulary: taller, shorter, Gentoo penguin, Rockhopper penguin, Little Blue penguin, Emperor penguin

    Did you know that an adult emperor penguin is taller than a pre-kindergartner? The fun thing about this activity is that children are given an opportunity to compare their size to the real-life sizes of four different penguins. They can stand next to them and compare their height to that of different penguins while also using important vocabulary and sentence stems to compare.

    Create real life size drawings of the following penguins using these measurements:

    Emperor penguin: 48 in.

    Gentoo penguin: 30 in.

    Rockhopper penguin: 22 in.

    Little Blue penguin: 15 in.

    I have to confess I recruited the help of my own little artist at home to help me. My 10-year old son Andrew will jump at the chance to draw anything, so he was more than willing to help his mom out with this task.  

    Display each penguin on a wall in your classroom or outside in the hallway. Children will be able to stand next to each penguin and compare their height.  Model using the following sentence stems: 

    I am taller than a ___________ penguin.  

    I am shorter than a __________ penguin.

     

     

    I hope the month of January is filled with love and learning for you and your students. Please share your comments with me. I would love for you to share your ideas and comments with me. You can also follow me on Twitter @loves2teachpk2

    Warmly,

    Sandy

    Additional book recommendations:

    It is always a good practice to have a variety of both fiction and nonfiction books readily available.

     

     

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