We watched Happy Feet over the weekend so naturally Madelynn is a bit in love with penguins lately which made it the perfect time for our penguin tot school theme. We did a few of the same penguin activities that we tried last year, but tried lots of new ones too!
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Here were our plans for Penguin Week:
And here are the details of each activity:
Our favorite penguin books for the week were: Tacky the Penguin By Helen Lester Penguins By Liz Pichon If You Were a Penguin By Wendell and Florence Minor Penguin Chick By Betty Tatham National Geographic Kids: Penguins By Anne Schreiber
Snow Letter Writing Tray:
Okay so we didn’t really use snow, because of course we didn’t have any on the ground to scoop up when I needed it. Instead I used salt sprinkled on our tot school tray, close enough right? Then we started out drawing lines, zig zags and circles using a penguin from our Penguin Toob. Madelynn is still a bit young to make letters on her own, so next I drew a letter in the salt tray and had her trace it with her penguin. Easy peasy fine motor practice.
Penguin Counting Tray:
For this fine motor activity we added in a little counting with a soft foam die. Madelynn rolled the die, counted the dots, then added that number of mini penguin erasers to her ice cube tray. For a little extra challenge I gave her tweezers to pick up the erasers too.
Now that Madelynn is getting pretty good at drawing shapes I have been trying to have her work on more open ended art projects. So for this painting I asked her to start by painting a penguin body with black paint. We looked at pictures of penguins in books so she could decide what shapes she needed. She told me she was going to make a big oval and a head. After that dried, we glued cotton balls on the head and body for the white parts and I gave her a few pre-cut pieces for the face and feet.
To prep this activity I froze water inside empty fruit cups that I saved to make little “igloos.” Then Madelynn used watercolors to paint her igloos.
Tacky the Penguin Play Dough Mat:
After reading Tacky the Penguin By Helen Lester, we made our own shirts and bow ties for Tacky using play dough. We also used our Melissa & Doug Play Dough Tools to stamp different shapes and textures on the clothes.
Penguin Dance Chant:
I have tons of preschool movement CDs that I used in the classroom full of fun themed songs. One song I remember loving was Jack Hartman’s Penguin Dance Chant. The song has your little one(s) moving their left and right flippers, feet and more. You can find it on CD here or dance to the YouTube version like we did here.
We did this activity last year, but thought we’d try it again now that Madelynn is bigger. All I did was blow up a balloon and have her try to walk with it between her legs. We talked about how penguin daddies keep their eggs warm on their feet and have to shuffle around to move anywhere while the mommy is out getting food.
We did this one last year too, but it was fun and easy so we tried it again! I cut out white “icebergs” from cardstock and laid them out on the floor. Then I had Madelyn move in different ways between them. We tried walking, running, hopping on two feet, hopping on one foot, tiptoeing, and skating.
Penguin Freeze Dance:
Another fun dance we love is this Penguin Freeze Dance I found on YouTube. This is just a themed version of the basic freeze dance song. In the video different animals and characters prompt different actions (skate like penguin, twirl like a candy cane, etc.) until the music stops and they shout “freeze.”
Penguin Fish Hunt:
Madelynn loves these themed scavenger hunts, so this week I printed fish with all of the letters a to z and hid them around the house. She pretended she was a hungry penguin and searcher for all of the letter fish. She used the recording sheet and a clipboard to match and color each letter as she found them.
Penguin Cookies – Separate the top cookie from the cream of an Oreo. Split the top cookie into 2 pieces to make the wings and reattach. Add a mini oreo for the head. Cut up an orange gumdrop for the feet and beak and added candy eyes on the face with a dot of icing. Build an Igloo – Start with half an apple turned upside down on a plate. Use a plastic knife to spread peanut butter all over the outside of the apple. Built the igloo by sticking mini marshmallow “ice cubes” onto the peanut butter. Blueberry Penguin – Place a large rice cake in the center of a plate. Place blueberries around the rice cake to form the penguin body shape. Add a half strawberry and blueberry for a hat. Cut Starburst candy into webbed feet and a beak. Add Starburst shapes and candy eyes to complete the penguin. Penguin Marshmallow – Start by dipping a jumbo marshmallow in melted chocolate and let it set. Add gumdrops and candy eyes for the face and feet. Veggie Penguin – Use cucumber slices for the penguin body and head. Add cut black olives to outline the body and head. Add carrot pieces for feet and nose and finish the face with candy eyes.
Build an Igloo Sensory Bin:
In this bin: “Snow,” penguin mini erasers, empty fruit cups
(We used the same baking soda snow we made last week for our winter theme, I just added a bit more water to soften it up again.)
Penguin Sensory Bin:
Penguin Sensory Bin:
Penguin Sensory Bin:
In this sensory bin: Penguins from our Penguin Toob, blue gems, frozen icebergs, bowls, and water.
Penguins at Night:
Then check out the rest of our 35+ themes on the Tot School Curriculum Main Page.
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