PrK-2nd Grade Literature Unit Study for Make Way for Ducklings

This post is part of the 31 MORE Days of Literature Unit Studies series. You can find all of the links to the thirty-one studies in this post. If you’d like to use these ideas to create your own unit study, this post has step-by-step instructions as well as a free unit study planner. (Want to know more about what, exactly, a unit study is? This post will help.)

While you’re reading and working on your unit study, you can download this free printables pack of graphic organizers for reading. It has a plot chart, venn diagram, KWL chart, two mini book report organizers, a character analysis chart, a plot outline chart, and a reading response sheet where students can record facts while reading.

Literature unit study for Make Way for Ducklings
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Make Way for Ducklings is a classic children’s book. It’s great as a read aloud for younger children, but even elementary aged kids will enjoy the story of the duck family and the kind policeman who helps them to get safely across the Boston streets.

Book Information

TitleMake Way for Ducklings

Author- Robert McCloskey

Recommended ages– PreK-primary grades

Synopsis- Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are looking for a place to make a nest to begin a family. Mrs. Mallard is pretty particular, so the two have traveled far when they finally come to an area near the Public Garden in Boston. The area is perfect for their family, and they soon have eight ducklings (with great rhyming names).

Mr. Mallard wants to explore the area more, and he leaves, telling Mrs. Mallard to meet him with the ducklings in the Public Garden in a week. When she heads to the Garden, a kind policeman stops traffic to help her get safely across the streets with her brood. The family is reunited in an even better home on an island in the middle of the Public Garden.

Language Arts

Rhyming words– Write out the names of the ducklings on chart paper- Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Oack, Pack, and Quack. Look at the word endings with kids and talk about the spelling pattern that makes the words rhyme. See if you can think of other words that rhyme with these.
Vocabulary- Some of the words in Make Way for Ducklings may not be familiar to kids because we don’t use them as much anymore. Choose ten words from the story. Write each on a blank duck pattern. On the back of each duck write a simple definition. Talk to kids about what each word means. You could also use these cards to play a vocabulary game.

Real vs. fiction– Talk to the kids about fiction vs. nonfiction stories. Which is Make Way for Ducklings? On a chart, make two columns- one for real and one for fiction. Talk about events in the story. Could they have really happened or are they totally fiction? Write events under the appropriate column.

Letters/words/vocabulary– Print a page of blank eggs. Use these to play a memory style matching game. You can use the eggs to practice different concepts depending on the age and ability of your children.

  • Match upper and lower case letters
  • Match simple words for word recognition
  • Match rhyming words
  • Match vocabulary words and meanings


Ducks- Watch this video to learn facts about ducks.

Ducks- Easy Science for Kids has a page with more duck facts, pictures, and a video. Learn more about ducks here.

Ducks- This page has even more duck information. It’s nice because it’s written in larger letters and older kids can probably read some of it independently. The older kids could read it and record facts on the reading response sheet from the printables packet above. (Some of the links that look interesting at the bottom of the page don’t work.)

Comparison- Use a blank Venn diagram (in the printables pack above) to compare real ducks with the ducks in the story.

Duck calls/ sound vibrations– Use a straw to make a simple duck call and talk about sound vibrations with this activity.

Duck life cycle- This site has a nice slideshow of the life cycle of a duck from mating to egg development to baby ducklings.

Duck life cycle- Make a picture that details the life cycle of a duck with these free printables.

History/Social Studies

Geography- Print a blank US map. Find and label Massachusetts and Boston. This map would be a good reference.

GeographyLearn fun facts about the state of Massachusetts and its symbols.

Boston- Check out Boston’s Public Garden at this site. You can also see all about the swan boats.

Islands– Mr. and Mrs. Mallard ended up living on an island in the Boston Public Garden. This slide show has some great information and pictures about islands. (You have to download the powerpoint presentation.)

IslandsThis page from National Geographic has some great information and pictures about islands as well.

Geography- This video has an awesome Google Earth field trip that follows the path of the Mallards and includes up close looks and questions.

Crafts and Fun

Make Mrs. Mallard and her ducklings with this cute pom pom craft.

This is a cute duck-themed snack to go along with the story.

Younger kids would love playing this Catch a Duckling game along with reading the book.

This handprint craft is a cute way to make a mallard duck.

These cute duck finger puppets would be great to use when retelling the story.

Make Way for Ducklings unit study


On the Loose in Boston (Find the Animals) (Boston)

Journey Around Boston from A to Z (Boston)

Larry Gets Lost in Boston (Boston)

Willow’s Walkabout: A Children’s Guide to Boston (Boston)

Ducks Don’t Get Wet (Ducks)

Just Ducks! (Ducks)

A New Duck (My First Look At) (Ducks)

The Little Duck (Ducks)

The Little Island (Islands)

My Little Island (Islands)

Other Resources

This site has fun online games to help kids learn more about the state of Massachusetts.

Homeschool Share has a free lapbook for Make Way for Ducklings.

This video shows an elementary school in Massachusetts that pays tribute to Make Way for Ducklings in a special way.

This is a cute video version of the story.

Don’t miss the other literature units in this series!

Literature unit studies for kids

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