Mr. Popper's Penguins Lessons

While I'm not really sure that Mr. Popper's Penguins is a holiday movie,  I found tons of cute penguin, snow, and snowflake projects that I wanted to try with the boys and since they love that movie I decided why not add it to our holiday line up?

They were, once again, eager to dig in to what I had planned (I always keep a few surprises up my sleeve, though).  So, once they had colored in the advent tree, checked on our elf, and had eaten some breakfast they were raring to go. 

Our elf toilet papered our tree

To change things up a bit today we decided to start with writing.

Evan had to distinguish the nonsense words from the real words and glue them into the appropriate column.  I found the penguin word printouts here, and then decided rather than copy the words he'd have more fun cutting and pasting.  He loved it and was giggling over the nonsense words.  He did great sounding them out and I was so happy to discover that he knew most of the real words!

Evan hard at work on his penguin words
The older two boys had a pretty easy writing assignment this morning-- they had to re-write the penguin sentences using -ed endings.  After seeing the way they spelled yesterday I didn't think this was a bad idea though.  They obviously needed the review.  I found these printable books and the boys were happy to work on them.  Alec did ask me just about every time how to spell each of the words when he changed the ending.  I always encourage him to make a good guess or two and he usually got it right on his own.

After writing we stopped for a craft project.

We made snowball ornaments!

We painted school glue onto a clear glass ball and dunked them into Epson salts.  We have beautiful looking, sparkly, ice/snowball ornaments for our tree now.  I can't wait for them to dry.  I told the boys we could try and put a nice ribbon or bow on them too if they'd like, but something tells me they won't want anything added to them.

All finished

I love how it sparkles in the light
We went on to reading next and read The Little Penguin, If You Were a Penguin, and Penguin's Skating Party.  Ian decided to read Penguin's Skating Party to us.   While reading If You Were a Penguin and The Little Penguin we discussed the different species of penguins and reviewed what we have learned about penguins in the past.  It ended up being a nice short, impromptu science lesson too.
Once we finished reading we did another (what was supposed to be) quick little craft. I found foam snowflakes at the dollar section of Target the other day and we decorated them with some sticky gems we already had on hand.  Each of the boys decorated a few and we decided to hang them in the living room windows.  I just love how festive they look.  I had no idea how long they would take though.  Alec is very particular and had a very specific pattern of colors and shapes he was using.  He is also the one who made the most snowflakes and so this craft project lasted about an hour.  It gave the other two boys a nice long break before math. 

finished products hanging in the window

 I worked with Evan for his math sheet.  I found a Penguin Equality Worksheet  that was mixed addition and subtraction; both of which are pretty new to him.  He struggled a bit with knowing where to start each equation.  He had a very easy time deciding if the equations were true or false though so I guess he has a good understanding of what "equal" means.  He also got all the equations right once we broke it down into steps for him.  We'll keep working on it though.  While searching for this link I also stumbled upon this Penguin True- False Equation packet that is very similar and so adorable!  Perhaps that will be next year's work and he'll be able to work on it solo. 

The two older boys worked some more on plotting points on a grid.  They made snowflakes and they looked awesome!  I didn't tell them what shape they were making and it was neat to hear them to guessing what shape it would make when it was all done.

So pretty!

Throughout the day we listened to Christmas music and I had to put our last arts and crafts project to a vote with the boys.  I had pulled out stuff to make snowflakes for the window (we use coffee filters and this year we were going to put some tissue paper colors in the holes to make them like these stained glass snowflakes) but I also found this adorable penguin art project that I thought they might like and I just couldn't decide what to do today.

 Evan decided he wanted to do the penguin art project but the older two boys wanted to make snowflakes.  They wanted just plain old white snowflakes with the coffee filters.  They made a bunch of snowflakes and I added them to the same window as the foam snowflakes.

Coffee filter snowflakes

Evan's finished masterpiece
To make the penguins: 
  • Evan colored the background on his painting using watercolors.  Keeping them very wet and very fluid he sprinkled it with salt when he was done and set it aside to dry.  
  • While the background was drying he cut a large piece of white paper into an odd shape and added just a bit of dimension to it using a blue marker.  We added an edge to the ice floe.  
  • With the background and the ice done he moved onto making the penguins.  I helped him draw and cut out two really large "U" shaped pieces out of black paper, a smaller u made out of white paper and then 4 tiny u's made out black paper.  This became the penguins bodies, bellies and flipper "hands."  
  • He cut small orange triangles for the beaks and used googlie eyes for some dimension.  
  • The last thing we cut out was some large "W" shapes out of yellow for the penguins feet.  By this time the background was dry and we rubbed the salt off, layered everything on the background and using a glue stick put everything into place. 
  •  I loved that this art project reinforced his letter learning and he was so proud of how well it turned out.

 We got ready to watch Mr. Popper's Penguins and we made some "snowball" cookies.

After searching all the recipes on Pinterest for traditional snowball cookies we finally decided to come up with our own recipe.  My boys don't like the coconut, pecans or walnuts that pretty much every other recipe called for so we made peanut butter balls and instead of dunking them in melted chocolate we rolled them in powdered sugar.

I can't lie-- I like the ones dunked in chocolate MUCH better but hey, it would have ruined my theme for the day and we can't have that!

 I think if I had planned ahead better and looked up recipes ahead of time I would have just bought some powdered sugar munchkins for our snack but the boys had fun baking and it's great practice with measuring and reading recipes. The boys really enjoyed the snowballs along with a mug of hot cocoa while snuggled on the couch watching their movie.  It was such a great way to end a fun day with festive cheer.

rolling peanut butter balls

rolling the balls in powdered sugar

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