We may not be knee deep in snow right now, but we are knee deep in a p-p-polar unit study over here in the FTP household. As part of that we’ve spent some time studying penguins. Here are a couple of hands-on science activities that we’ve done to illustrate some of the concepts we’ve learned about penguin behavior and anatomy.
1. Crayon Resist Penguin Science
To do this activitty we used:
crayons in white & orange
water color paints in dark colors
The first step in this project is to draw a penguin outline on your white paper. For the most dramatic results, Dude did this with mostly white crayon, but you could use another light color like yellow or orange, if the white is too hard to see. Dude used the directions in our Follow the Directions & Draw It All by Yourself book as a reference for his drawing.
Next paint over the entire page with dark colored water color paints. As you do the crayon wax from your drawing will repel the water in the paint and protect the paper underneath from being colored, revealing your penguin drawing as you go.
The result is a neat combination of artistic technique and science. The crayon wax coats the paper and protects it from the moisture of the paint the same way the penguin uses a special oil it produces to coat it’s feathers and protect itself from frigid waters.
The second activity we did is an oldie, but a goodie!
2. Blubber Science
I’ve seen this project done a lot of different ways, but here’s what we used:
1 or 2 quart sized zip-lock bags
1 sandwich sized zip-lock bag
shortening (or lard)
a container of ice water
We ended up not using it.
The first thing you want to do is put your “blubber” (the shortening or lard) into the quart size zip-lock bag. I used about 2 1/2 cups, but could have gotten away with less. Next, put your hand into the sandwich sized bag and push it into the middle of the “blubber” making sure to leave a thick layer on all sides.
It should look something like this.
I had originally planned on taping the tops of the two bags together at this point, but decided to skip it. (and would again if we repeated this project)
Now you’re ready to get experimenting! We decided to get out a second zip-lock bag to use as a control and the boys took turns wearing an empty bag on one hand and the “blubber mitten” on the other and dipping both hands into the container of ice water. The advantages of a layer of blubber weren’t hard to feel!
Looking for more information & activities about penguins?
We also used & would recommend the follow resources:
We used this book to make penguin masks, models, & maps showing where various types of penguins live and how they behave.
Penguins (Smithsonian) by Seymour Simon
Fabulous pictures & a great general reference book about penguins
March of the Penguins DVD
Chronicles the harrowing journey that the emperor penguins make at the South Pole
I'll be sharing this post over at:
Tot School @ 1+1+1=1, Tree Valley Academy, Learn & Play Linkup
Natural Beach Living, Hip Homeschool Hop, Littles Learning Link Up
So Much at Home, Hearts for Home Blog Hop
& Everything Early Childhood