Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25 is World Penguin Day! Let's Celebrate!

Last week I celebrated Children's Literacy on World Book Day and invited you to do so too. The week before I celebrated Creativity and Innovation Week, hoped you would let your inner creator run free, and gave you some quick creative thinking activities to use with kids. Today I have a different focus - penguins. Yes, it's feathers again! Today is World Penguin Day, and this post is dedicated to them.

Penguins are fascinating creatures. They've been inspiring artwork, literature, movies and children's toys for years. One of my favourite penguins is Pingu - if you don't know him, you'll find episodes on Youtube.

So are there some literacy and learning activities we can use to celebrate World Penguin Day?

Books: Your local library might have some interesting non-fiction books about penguins, or if you're in luck, you might find Mr Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. They're making a movie based on it to be released in a few months. Another penguin book I like is Penguin Small by Mick Inkpen. This is definitely fiction as there are no penguins at the North Pole, but young scientists will love to point this out. A penguin book I'm interested to read is And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson. It's based on the true story of two male penguins in Central Park Zoo who were given an egg to hatch. Apparently there are people who feel that somehow this means the book promotes homosexuality and the book has been frequently challenged because of this.

Video: Do penguins like to be tickled? Decide for yourself!


Jokes: Today would be an excellent time to swap penguin jokes with your kids. Why not find some cool jokes, or even corny ones, write them out and tuck them into your child's lunchbox? Here are a couple to start you off:

What do penguins eat for lunch?
Icebergers
What do you call a penguin in the desert?
Lost
Why did the penguin cross the road?
To go with the floe

Facts: If jokes aren't for you, how about choosing today to learn some fascinating facts about penguins? Sites like Animal Planet or the Antarctic Connection might be useful and Kidzone has information nicely targeted at kids.

This website is not for the faint-hearted. It tells of plans to have us eating penguins soon, because they "taste a lot like veal, if cooked for long enough."Since the small print reveals they have a limited "responsibility for terminological exactitude" it turns out this would be a great site to use with older children who are learning about fake websites and how we can tell.

Art: Here are instructions for an easy origami penguin and a slightly more difficult one. Maggy Woodley has a cute penguin made from a deodorant bottle at Red Ted Art. Following tutorials is great for children's comprehension and also helps visual literacy when they have to follow diagrams. I found a tutorial on how to draw a baby penguin, and another on drawing a cartoon penguin. You can see my effort in the image above, which I drew in Skitch. This one is definitely something your kids can try, probably even with a mouse (computer, not real). DLTK have more crafts and ideas.

Games: Kids can design an indoor obstacle course for penguins. Tie something stretchy around ankles and waddle around the course. Play Penguin Shuffle. How about creating a board game with a penguin theme? What chance cards can they invent that would suit the theme? How will they design the board?

Write: Today would be a wonderful day to write and draw about penguins. If you don't have much time, how about a quick cartoon? I used Comic Life Magiq to create the two-panel comic at left by finding images that were licensed for re-use on flickr, choosing two pictures I liked, and thinking up dialogue to link them.

However you celebrate, I hope you enjoy World Penguin Day!
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