Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater is a cute and charming children's story. It's a good book for a read aloud because it's humorous, and I always love reading the funny moments with the kids.
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About the book...
Mr. Popper's Penguins was first published in 1938 and is set in the time period in which it was written. Mr. Popper is a plain, ordinary house painter. He struggle to support himself, his wife, and his children- Bill and Jane. But Mr. Popper dreams of seeing the Poles one day. His fascination is so great that he writes the famous explorer, Admiral Drake, who is exploring in Antarctica. And when he hears Admiral Drake mention him by name on the radio from the Drake Antarctic Expedition broadcast, he's thoroughly excited and surprised. But when he receives a package from Admiral Drake, he's even more shocked to find a penguin!
Soon, Mr. Popper- who has struggled to support his own family- has twelve penguins to support as well. The family decides to take the penguins on the road as a show to make enough money to care for them. Their adventures are many, and the book is very humorous as we read about the traveling penguin show.
Geography/social studies activities...
- Explore this site to learn about Antarctica. There are many different links you can follow to learn about the continent.
- Read this page from Science for Kids to learn some fun facts about Antarctica.
- Print this world map and find the continent of Antarctica.
- Watch penguins at Monterey Bay Aquarium with the Penguin Cam. (When it isn't live, there is recorded footage.)
- Print the Penguin Book cover and lined pages on this site and record facts about penguins as you learn them.
- Learn about penguins- fun facts, types of penguins, where they live, and more- here.
- Read this article for more information about specific penguin types.
- One of the ways that the Poppers try to support the penguins is by using them in an ad- a testimonial- to promote canned shrimp. Discuss how advertisements entice people to buy. Then write your own advertisement using the penguins to sell another item you choose.
- Here are some vocabulary words you will encounter throughout the story. Write a definition for them and illustrate each word: pompous, toboggan, stupor, promenade, spar, spectacle, icebox, rookery, trilled, haggard, testimonial
- Mr. Popper's penguins is a good story to use to discuss the plot diagram. Use this printable from Read Write Think to discuss the plot of Mr. Popper's Penguins.
- Make some beautiful penguins with this art project.
- Play this Roll a Penguin dice game. (This is a free file, but you have to sign up for Teacher's Notebook.)
- Make a very cute penguin out of a toilet paper tube with these instructions.
- Homeschool Share has a free lapbook for Mr. Popper's Penguins.
- This site has free, printable worksheets that deal with vocabulary and comprehension questions from the book.
- Time for Kids has some excellent free printables to teach about Antarctica and penguins.
- This site has a printable study guide meant to go with the movie of Mr. Popper's Penguins. There are some sections that compare the movie and the book.
- If you'd like to watch the movie version of the book, you can find it here.
- Penguins by Gail Gibbons
- If You Were a Penguin by Florence Minor
- The Emperor's Egg by Martin Jenkins
- Antarctica by Helen Cowcher
- Antarctica (New True Books: Geography) by Mel Friedman
- Antarctica: Rookie Read About Geography by Allan Fowler
If you'd like to use this book as a literature unit study, you can find a FREE printable guide here.