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Penguin on the Ice Triarama

Antarctica’s changing climate is making life more fragile for one of the continent’s most important inhabitants, penguins. Find out what’s happening in the Southern Hemisphere and exhibit your findings.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. As the ice of Antarctica melts, there are fewer places for penguins to set up rookeries to raise their young. With more open water, penguins have fewer places to hide from predators such as the leopard seal. Even the krill that penguins eat is disturbed because of global warming. Can you imagine the impact of these changes on the penguin population? Students work in small groups to research how the environment is changing for penguins on the most isolated continent on Earth. Organize a variety of text and electronic resources for students to use during this research.
    2. From Crayola Black Color Explosion™ paper, ask students to cut an Emperor Penguin using Crayola Scissors. Cut a tab between the penguin’s feet to attach it to the triarama. Detail the penguin’s colorful features using the Black Color Explosion Marker. Cut out the penguin’s belly so the white background of the triarama shows through and gives the penguin its characteristic white front.
    3. To add more realism, cut out the head of a hungry leopard seal from Black Color Explosion™ Paper. Leave a tab at the bottom. Draw features including eyes, teeth, and whiskers for this predator using the fine line marker.
    4. Crumple a small White Color Explosion Paper rectangle to form an ice floe for the penguin to stand on. Cut a hole in top of the ice. Insert the penguin’s tab. Secure tab with glue. Air-dry.
    5. To make the triarama for the exhibit, fold over a corner of a sheet of White Color Explosion Paper to create a square. Cut off excess strip. Lightly fold the square into half both ways to create four triangles. Unfold and cut along one fold into the center of the square. Before sliding one triangle under another (to pop up the triarama), use the White Color Explosion Markers to draw the choppy, ice-filled Antarctic sea in the bottom triangle as well as a cloud-streaked sky in the two top sections.
    6. Scrunch up more rectangles of White Color Explosion™ to form larger ice shelves. Run the White Color Explosion Marker over the folds to look like cracks in the ice. Attach the ice to the sides of the triarama with glue dots for a realistic 3-D effect. Glue on the penguin and the seal to complete the tableaux. Air-dry the glue.
    7. Students write a summary paragraph focused on the changes in the environment that are affecting penguin populations. Display student triaramas in a prominent place in the classroom, accompanied by student writing.
  • Standards

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    MATH: Understand that attributes belonging to a category of two-dimensional figures also belong to all subcategories of that category.

    MATH: Draw points, lines, line segments, rays, angles (right, acute, obtuse), and perpendicular and parallel lines. Identify these in two-dimensional figures.

    SCI: Obtain and share information on the role of the ocean in supporting a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shaping landforms, and influencing climate.

    SCI: Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information describing the impacts human activities has on Earth’s systems and generate examples of actions individuals and communities have taken to conserve Earth’s resources and environments.

    SCI: Provide evidence to explain how increases in Earth’s temperature can affect humans and other organisms.

    SS: Examine the relationships and tensions between personal wants and needs and various global concerns, such as use of imported oil, land use, and environmental protection.

    SS: Use knowledge of facts and concepts drawn from history, along with elements of historical inquiry, to inform decision-making about and action-taking on public issues.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Penguins by Liz Pichon; National Geographic Readers: Penguins! by Anne Schreiber; Penguin Chick by Betty Tatham; Penguins: Smithsonian by Seymour Simon; Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems by Judy Sierra

    Encourage students to investigate other species that inhabit polar climates. How do they live? What do the species eat? How have humans affected their habitats? Have they adapted to environmental changes? If so, how?

    Invite a local community member that is known for environmental awareness training to speak with the class about doing an energy assessment and conservation initiative at your school. After the meeting, post learning to a class blog. Then prepare a plan for your school. Make an appointment with your principal to discuss your plan before proceeding.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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