One of the art projects that I love to work on with my students each year is this penguin sponge art project. Each year they turn out just a little different from the year before. This year I gave my students square sponges and black and white paint. I showed them how to press down and lift to make squares. Some students did that and others used other techniques.
We had already studied a bit about penguins before starting this project and I gave my students a pile of penguin photos to look through before starting. You can find a printable set here of the different types of penguins. We did just the sponge painting part of the project on the first day and then added feet, eyes, and beaks the next class. I was especially impressed with the penguin family one student chose to create since he remembered he had created a family when it came time to choose how many eyes, beaks, and feet he needed to make even though we had some time off in between due to weather.
This year I gave students the choice of black or orange feet and beaks. Some went with what matched the penguin photo and some probably chose what the person next to them chose. To check out past penguin projects, see this post and this one.
You can also spy one of our polar bear crafts. This was made by painting with marshmallows in white paint. Some of them look quite a bit more like dogs than polar bears, so kids were quick to correct moms who admired their “dog.” This craft came from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten.
I used inexpensive sponges from the dollar store for the penguins, but the ones in the Amazon referral link above look like they might be fun to use since they seem to have a great texture to them. It could also just be because they are so bright and colorful that I am drawn to them.
Now that I have recovered from the flu, I have a chance to share the last few themes we have been working on in my preschool classroom. This year we focused on Polar Animals instead of just penguins, so I was able to pull out some of my favorite Arctic Animal activities as well as penguin activities.
For dramatic play we started with a Polar Expedition with a tent and ice fishing. The fishing poles (referral link) above are what I used. I laminated fish that I cut using my Cricut and then put a staple or two in each so that they could be caught with the magnetic poles. Photos of polar animals were placed around the area with a laminated checklist on clipboards. I found several of the printables for this dramatic play at Sparklebox. Students used binoculars (referral link) to find the animals. Our binoculars are fairly similar to the ones at the Amazon link. We also had dollar store gloves to wear while doing everything.
The more labels for where everything goes, the better. I usually try to have the word and the photo or matching clip art. If there are not labels things soon get very messy and clean up takes forever.
My dramatic play area has a small bulletin board that I change out to match the area. I managed to find a cute border for it at Dollar Tree that had polar animals on it. The foam snowflakes also came from Dollar Tree. During the next week we switched out what we were searching for and added some more photos to the board.
I was happy to get to pull out my Arctic Measurement Center this year. My students love the snap cubes and will build a tower as long or tall as the arctic animal and then count them for me. I laminated the pages back to back to save on laminating sheets. I have discovered that the linking cubes are just as wide but make slightly shorter towers because of the way they link together. I still sometimes use them for variety but keep that in mind if I want to have my students fill out the counting sheet.
This Arctic Animal Count and Match Game is one I was happy to pull out again. My assistant a few years ago worked very hard getting this one together for me. I like that the clips have the animals to match up with the cards along with the counting.
The Penguins on Ice (referral link) is from Lakeshore Learning. My students loved using this set to sort by color and to make patterns. The ice bars connect in two ways, which was a great discovery for my kids.
I had my Polar Path Game all ready to play and then we had just enough weather to cancel school. Students draw a card and then move to the letter the animal starts with to get to the igloo. The game comes with people that you can print out to play the game, or you can use any other small token to play.
We did have time to use this game, Pop N Drop Penguins (referral link). Students push down the center to make the die pop. They move their penguins all the way around the board. There are extra directions for making penguins fall through the bridges, but we did not use those this time since students mostly played independently.
I found this free Spin 20 game when I was perusing Pinterest. You can find it at The Printable Princess. I had some penguin and polar bear erasers that I think I got at Walmart several years ago that I used for this game. With preschoolers I find it is best to have pieces that won’t fall over or move easily when the spinner is attached to the same sheet where the pieces go.
So I used to teach middle school when I first got out of college. We did a nonfiction unit on Antarctica and the students did a group project to draw a life sized penguin. They had to research more than one source and had a bunch of facts to go with them. I saved several of the penguins and have started pulling them out each year for my preschoolers to see how tall they are compared to a penguin. And this is why teachers save everything.
Below are some things from my shop that I used but did not get photos of in my classroom.
This year we have had an entire week dedicated just to penguins. I was excited to bring out my life size penguin creations that I have saved from when I taught sixth grade many years ago. (See, there is sometimes a good reason to save things.) I have fond memories of teaching middle school and love seeing my current students measure themselves against an emperor penguin.
If you notice there is a small photo of the penguin nearby. This is just one of many photos of real penguins hidden around the room for our penguin search dramatic play. I found the penguin photos here. I created a check sheet for the students to carry around the room on a clip board, along with binoculars and gloves, to search for many of the kinds of penguins. Along the way nearly every student became an expert at putting on winter gloves.
Besides searching for penguins, my students could also go ice fishing. Inside were laminated fish with staples in them to make them stick to the magnetic pole. (I gave up on having any type of magnet stick to laminated items a while back. Staples are much cheaper and don’t fall off.)
I had some penguin counters to use with this spinner game, so I added it to my math and fine motor area. You can find it here. I like finding games that I can use fun counters with since the three dimensional counters attract the students even more than any clip art can.
This is how this puzzle was left at the end of the day, but I did have several students work through getting the puzzle into order from eleven to twenty to make the penguin picture. It did help to have some numbers drawn along the side of the board. I laminated and put magnets on the back of this puzzle. I am finding that my students do better with these types of puzzles on the magnet board because they do not slide around as much when they are trying to line them up next to each other to complete the puzzle. This puzzle comes from here.
My director bought us some insta-snow to try out, so I added it to my sensory bin, along with a tube of penguins. I found photos to match the penguins in the tube and hung them above the bin. Several students matched them up and asked me the names of the different penguins while playing.
We also had some sensory play at the writing center with baking soda and white hair conditioner. I used some penguin and fish alphabet letters I found here to have students choose which letters to write, although many tried out letters in their names instead. The students enjoyed this so much that I promised to move the baking soda and conditioner over to the large sensory bin the next week so they could play with it in other ways, rather than just flattening it and drawing letters.
At circle time we used the pocket chart to go through the emperor penguin’s life cycle. We also read some books and tried balancing bean bags and balls on our feet to pretend to be a daddy penguin. The cards at the bottom were photos of opposites in Antarctica. I was able to go through these cards with a few of my students during centers time to introduce the idea of opposites.
One of my fine motor activities included using our poke pin. I found this penguin, which several of my students started to work on but did not finish. I think that preschoolers probably need smaller poke pin projects if we want them to complete them. I just encourage my students to work on them and come back again another day add some more holes. I also had some half sheets of letter review available for students who wanted a smaller poke pin project.
These are just a few of our penguin centers. We also did our sponge penguins again. You can see an example of that from last year. We also ended the week with black and white day and a penguin snack.
Do you have a penguin week in your preschool? What is your favorite activity?
Aren’t their feet cute? I am so pleased with how these turned out with the addition of the feet using painted fingers and just a bit of the hand. I tried having the papers turned upside down or sideways so the fingers would be pointed the direction that made sense. A few students decided they wanted their hands to be pointed a particular way and I went with what they wanted since it is their artwork.
One student had great fun doing a count down to placing her hands on the paper,”…..5, 4, 3, 2, 1″ and splat, onto the paper.
Now if I could just figure out awesome art projects like these for every theme. That is one of my goals, to keep adding more open ended projects that really make my students think and create because they always turn out in surprising and awesome ways.
I am really enjoying the snow days, but am itching to get back to school to finish our sponge penguins. We still need to add the feet to them.
When I saw this project on Teach Preschool’s site I knew I wanted to make them. This is the third year and each year has been different. The first year I had a student who made a large letter H in a AB pattern and then added eyes, beak, and feet. Last year one of the first students started swiping with the sponge and that was the end of the sponge look, but they still ended up looking very unique. This year the students understood the concept so they did actually sponge their penguins.
For this project I found dollar store sponges and cut them into squares. I used blue ones for black paint and red for white, which I think helped the kids keep straight what they were doing since we did not end up with any sponges in the wrong paint. I also have some examples of penguins both face on and in profile for the students to look at while creating.
I am planning to have them use their hands to make some feet for the penguins when we finally get back to school, drawing some inspiration from Mrs.Hodge’s example. I think we will probably have the fingers facing down and not paint the whole hand. If it goes well, I am sure I will take some more photos. I thought I had photos of all of the cute in progress penguins but only found one photo on my memory card. Not sure how I messed that up.
What art projects have your students been working on lately? Do you have any projects waiting to be finished at school during all of these snow days?
For more ideas for a Polar theme, please check out my Pinterest board:
Since it has snowed most of the day yesterday as well as all day today, I have had the chance to work on several projects around the house. Some of them are related to teaching and some are related to family. The crocheted Hobbes is for my youngest daughter who shares my husband’s love for Calvin & Hobbes.
I worked on the crocheting part of the project over Christmas break since that is the part of the project I enjoyed doing. The whole putting the pieces and parts together part of the project is not my favorite. It involved me taking apart most of the parts at least once before being satisfied with how it was turning out. I found the pattern on Ravelry.
While I was working this morning on a game for my Polar unit the girls got bundled up to take the dog out since he refused to go by himself. Once out in the back yard the dog had to leap like a deer in order to move around in the snow that was already up to his chest. (You will notice he is on a rope, which is because he has great leaping ability and unfortunately learned to leap the fence. The rope is attached to a clothesline that goes across most of the yard so that he still has the majority of the backyard available to him to run.) We have gotten quite a bit more snow since then in addition to some blowing and drifting. I anticipate at least one snow day before we head back to school.
My girls were kind enough to play my Arctic Adventure Path Game with me to test it out since the snow days have kept me from trying it out with my students like some of the other Polar themed items that I have been creating. I also discovered that printing on draft mode still looks good for this project, although I do need to be in the room with the printer or it shoots the paper out and who knows where it might land.
You can see one of the two game boards here. The other has lowercase letters so that you can choose which skill to work on with your students. There are also three different sets of game cards so that you can work on letter sounds, matching same letters or matching capital and lowercase letters.