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Literature Unit Ideas for Mr. Poppers Penguins (31 Days of Literature Unit Studies)

Leah Courtney
This post is part of the 31 Days of Literature Unit Ideas series. You can find all of the books in the series here. And if you'd like to use this book as a literature unit study, you can find a free printable guide below.

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.

Literature unit for Mr Popper's Penguins; includes science, social studies, language arts
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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...

Science activities...
Language arts activities...
  • 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.
 Hands-on activities...

Other resources...


If you'd like to use this book as a literature unit study, you can find a FREE printable guide here.

Leah Courtney / Author & Editor

Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. She’s graduated two teens- one who’s a legal adult now! And she’s still homeschooling two middle schoolers. She loves all things book related, and in her- very rare- free time you can find her listening to audiobooks and coloring.


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