Toddler Homeschool: Penguin Week

If you read my last post, then you're aware that J and I have started themed weeks of learning at home! It's a fun way to spend our weeks (especially since my hubby is working away for about 70 hours a week in tax season and since it's the bleak midwinter - bleh) and it makes our time much more focused, intentional, and fun.

In our first week, we studied snow, which was really great since we actually had a bunch of snow accumulation during that week! In our second week, our focus was on penguins!

When I plan the activities, Pinterest is a dear friend. However, I have found that many activities I come across are meant for 4-6 year olds, rather than young toddlers. Therefore, I modify and accommodate for J, based on what he can do. Also, being a Stay-At-Home-Mom currently, we don't have a ton of discretionary funds, so I also try to see how much I can do with materials we have at home. I don't want to go buy a bunch of stuff, and I'm sure you don't either! Now, if there's something fun like a $0.99 bag of marshmallows, I'm game. Otherwise, I don't need cute little penguin figurines that I'll use for 6 days. But that's just me :)

Here are some of the things we did, that you can try too:

Books:

  • If You Were a Penguin, by Florence and Weddell Minor
  • Emperor Penguin: The World's Biggest Penguin, by Meish Goldish
  • Penguins Are Cool!, by Connie and Peter Roop
  • One Day on Our Blue Planet...In the Antarctic, by Ella Bailey



Gross Motor Activities:

  • Iceberg Hop: I cut out 4 "icebergs" out of white and blue construction paper (again, use what you have on hand) and numbered them 1, 2, 3, and 4. We practiced hoping with both feet to each iceberg, then leaping from one foot to the other. This game also helped with counting. J LOVED it! It got him some good exercise, too!
  • Waddle like a Penguin: Find a small ball (a balloon, I'm sure would work, too), and place it in between your thighs. Show your toddler how to waddle or walk like a penguin. This was a hoot! Very fun activity.
Fine Motor Activites:
  • Counting Penguins: I found a cute little clipart set with numbered penguins (1 to 10) from Kathy Hutto on TeacherspayTeachers (free download!). After cutting it out, I found an empty container of oatmeal and cut a slit in the top of it (make sure it's wide enough for the cards to fit into). Then J and I counted from 1 to 10 as we placed each card in the container.
  • J waddling. Clearly, pants are optional in our house.
  • Penguin Craft: I cut a P (since P is for penguin, right?) out of construction paper, and then cut out a triangle beak, a half circle penguin belly, and two trapezoid feet. I showed J how to use the glue and together we worked on gluing the pieces down. Wasn't perfect, but very adorable, and he has been looking at it ever since.
Sensory Activities:

  • Find the Penguin: Using the same numbered penguins mentioned above, I hid the cards in a tub of black beans. J had to look for all 10 of the cards.
  • Picture Cards: I found pictures of four different types of penguins that we had read about in our penguin books (Gentoo, Chinstrap, Emperor, and Rockhopper) and labeled the penguins. I printed equal-sized pictures and cut them out. I placed them in a small basket on his bookshelf in his room for him to look at them when he wanted. He didn't. But I liked it and thought it was a good idea, all the same :)
Other:

  • If you are fortunate to have a zoo or aquarium nearby, it is great fun to explore real penguins! 
    J hugging a Gentoo Penguin statue at the Aquarium.