Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a Newberry Honor book about a painter and his penguins that will have you laughing together as a family!
This free literature-based penguin unit study has activities to go along with each chapter of Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Learn about penguins, explorers, letter writing, and more!
I recommend reading the book aloud together as a family. It will be more fun to experience the antics of Mr. Popper and his penguins together.
As you read each chapter in the book, complete the activity listed for the chapter.
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
- A Penguin Year by Susan Bonners, or another book about the life cycle of Adelie penguins.
- A book about Antarctic explorers.
- Any other penguin books that look interesting.
- A book about weather
- The March of the Penguins DVD
- Printable Activities List – Available in the Resource Library
Activities for Mr. Popper’s Penguins Unit Study:
Chapter 1: Mr. Popper is a painter and will have no more work until spring. The Popper family is going to have to economize on their meals. Have the children plan an economical menu by using weekly grocery ads and coupons.
Chapter 2: Mr. Popper wrote a letter to the explorer Admiral Drake. Have the children find out who Admiral Drake was. They can use the Drake notebooking page to record information about him. Have them write a friendly letter to a friend or relative.
Chapter 3: Mr. Popper receives a penguin from Admiral Drake. Have the children research the different species of penguins to figure out what species Mr. Popper’s penguin is, based on the description given.
Have each child choose a species of penguin they would like to study. Print out Penguin Worksheet for each child for them to fill in as you progress through the rest of the book.
Chapter 4: The Poppers try to figure out what Captain Cook, their penguin, likes to eat. Have the children research what their penguin species likes to eat.
Chapter 5: Mr. Popper has the icebox fixed for Captain Cook’s house. Have the children research the habitat of their penguin species. Plot out on a map where their penguin species lives. Also, plot where other penguins live. See if they can figure out what all of these places have in common.
Chapter 6: Mr. Popper must look into the proper licensing for having a penguin. Have children look into your town’s licensing requirements for pets.
Chapter 7: Captain Cook builds a nest. Have the children research the nesting and breeding habits of their penguin.
Chapter 8: Mr. Popper is interviewed by a newspaper reporter. Have the children pretend they are the reporter and write the newspaper article.
Chapter 9: Captain Cook takes Mr. Popper on a toboggan ride down a set of stairs. Watch a video of penguins tobogganing and research why they do this.
Chapter 10: Captain Cook is acting ill, so Admiral Drake sends another penguin, Greta. Read “A Penguin Year” by Susan Bonners.
Chapter 11: While they have the windows open, a blizzard occurs, leaving piles of snow in the house. Use the snow notebooking page to write about blizzards. They could include an official definition of a blizzard, recent notable blizzards, consequences of blizzards, etc.
Chapter 12 & 13: There is a lot of concern in these two chapters about the Popper’s finances. This is a good opportunity to talk about good financial management. If you have time, you could have your student complete this money lapbook or you could just select a few activities out of it. The credit and debit, budget activity, stretch your dollar, and ways to make money are all appropriate to the chapters.
Chapter 14: In order to make money to pay for all of the penguin expenses, the Poppers start a penguin show. Have the children put on their own penguin show.
Chapter 15: The penguins perform to Schubert’s “Military March”, “Merry Widow Waltz”, and “By the Brook”. Listen to these pieces in piano. Have the children make up another act for the penguins to perform and choose music for it.
Chapter 16: The Poppers travel by train. Learn more about steam train travel. Be sure to learn about the different types of cars and the train employees. Use the train notebooking page to have your student write what they learned about trains.
Chapter 17: Mr. Popper gives a testimonial for Owen’s Oceanic Shrimp in exchange for free shrimp for the penguins. Have the children draw how they think the magazine ad would look.
Chapter 18: Mr. Popper’s performing penguins encounter some show seals.Have the children research what the natural predators are for their species of penguin.
Chapter 19: Mr. Popper has a big decision to make. Have the student make a list of the pros and cons of each choice and decide which one they think is the better choice. Have them write a persuasive essay to Mr. Popper telling him which he choose.
Chapter 20: The Popper’s have traveled to Seattle, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. In Chapter 20, Mr. Popper, the children, and the penguins set off to the North Pole from New York with Admiral Drake. Trace their route on a map.
This book uses a lot of alliteration: Popper’s Performing Penguins, Marvelous Marcos, Owen’s Oceanic Shrimp, and Swenson’s Seals. Let the children try to come up with their own examples of alliteration.
Other fun penguin ideas:
Watch “The March of the Penguins” video.
Have each child draw a picture of the penguin they researched.
Have the children try to walk like penguins. Feed them goldfish crackers as they “Ork”
Read Psalm 50:10-11.
Compare and contrast penguins with birds that live near your home and with puffins.
Go to a zoo that has penguins.
Easy Penguin Word Search
Penguin Species Word Search
Older children might enjoy the movie “8 Below”. It is about Antarctic explorers.