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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Return of the Penguins

A couple of years ago, when my oldest daughter, Emma, was in first grade, she studied penguins with her class.  It was a big deal!  Her teacher was a master at weaving the penguin unit throughout the day.  They were working on measuring in math...so they measured the heights of different types of penguins and themselves to see how they compared.  They incorporated a study of fiction vs. nonfiction books by reading penguin books of all types.  They were working on researching for informational writing during writer's workshop, so they researched penguins.  Of course, they also wrote about penguins in an amazing all about penguins style book.  She was immersed in penguins all day long for a few weeks at school and she immersed us in penguins at home, teaching us each evening at the dinner table.  I even sliced about it then!

Fast forward a couple years...

My middle daughter, Maddie, has the same first grade teacher this year and she is immersed in the same penguin study!  Each day in my classroom she grabs the globe and shows me places where penguins live.  She has taught me about the chin strap penguin, who has a stripe that wraps around it's chin and who lives in the South Sandwich islands. She has schooled me on the difference between the macaroni penguin and the rockhopper penguin.  She loves this unit and all her new penguin knowledge just like her big sister did.

Each morning, the girls ride to school with me and hang out in my classroom until it's time for school to start.  Yesterday, Maddie asked if she could draw on the easel.  Usually this means she is drawing a picture with a rainbow or a dog or sometimes even me!  Yesterday was different though.  Yesterday she chose to write and draw about penguins.  It made my heart smile to know this unit is meaning so much to her.  I took a couple pictures and sent them on to her teacher too.

The beginnings...

The end result...

  Chinstrap penguins live in the South Sandwich Islands. 
(look on the globe to see)
It's true!

The penguin in the middle is labeled "chinstrap penguin" (notice the line drawn around his chin?).
On the right: bird (that eats baby penguins)

I love that my sweetie has the opportunity to learn the content through this fun and engaging unit.  She's still learning about math, reading, writing and science, but now it has meaning that she can apply to these little creatures that she's fallen in love with.  It's also become a shared experience that she can enjoy with her big sister, which is a cool dynamic.  While it's still a unit about penguins, there are things that are the same and things that are different about their studies so they can compare notes and also educate each other, which they love. 


  1. I miss the theme units. I've tried to do some mini units but it's so difficult. The kids are so engaged and excited. Why not?
    That bird though is too cute to eat baby penguins by the way😊

  2. Fun! My oldest daughter and youngest daughter are almost 10 years apart. Once school year, they had the same teacher (I cannot remember which grade). They love telling each other stories about "when I did that at school/what I'm doing now at school" stories. How fun for your family! Jennifer Sniadecki