Tue 31: Who doesn’t love penguins?

Let’s learn about birds that fly underwater…

Written by      

Richard Robinson

Below are some talking points and activities to pass the time, all relating to today’s story.

Talking points

Discuss the ideas presented in the penguin story with your family—at home or over video conferencing. Find ways to involve as many people as possible, especially those who you know are isolated by the lock-down.

  • The writer watches a penguin egg hatch. Are you surprised by how excited the parents are by their chick’s arrival? What do you know about how penguin parents help each other to be parents?
  • What do you notice about the difference between the chick’s feathers and the adult’s feathers? What might this be?
  • What else do you see in the photos and the videos that shows the ways penguin’s bodies help them on land and sea?
  • The article describes tourists sitting and staring at penguins when they come ashore, not realising that they want to cross the beach to their nests. How do you think we could teach people to leave penguins alone? What else could we teach people about penguins?
  • The map shows how much swimming penguins do between New Zealand and Antarctica. What does this show about the life of penguins? How might marine reserves in Antarctic waters affect penguins?

Tasks for the day

TASK 1: Use the photo of penguins swimming as inspiration for a wax-resist picture that combines crayon and watercolour paint (or dye).

  • Start by creating a “horizon” line about 4/5 of the way up the page. Use blue crayons to colour heavily in patches here to give the impression of choppy water, like in the photo. Add some white if you want to.
  • Next, outline your penguins in black. Colour them in heavily in black and white. Look at their colouration in the photo to see where the black and white meet.
  • Colour in spots and patches of white for bubbles—especially the bubble trails created by the penguins.
  • Finally, make up some watercolour paint or dye in a deep blue and wash it over the whole painting. Where you have coloured in with crayon, the wax of the crayons will “resist” the watercolour and stay the original colour.
  • Send your work to education@nzgeographic.co.nz and we’ll put it on the internet—the only art gallery anyone is allowed to visit!

TASK 2: Try this fun lockdown version of ten pin bowling using some old milk bottles and any paint that you have lying around home.

  • First, paint your milk bottles. Paint the tops separately so they don’t get stuck on. Use any colour you have—these penguins don’t have to be black and white. House paint will give adhere well to plastic—we used interior house paint from an old test pot.
  • Cut flippers out of paper. We used an outdated New Zealand atlas—you could use any paper. Glue these paper flippers on and if possible, varnish over them with a clear glue or varnish. We used mod podge.
  • Paint a face and feet onto your penguins.
  • Fill each bottle with a small amount of water (about 200ml works) and line them up in the hallway.
  • Find a ball or hacky sack and take turns to try to knock the penguins over. Knocking a penguin over flat earns you 10 points—with five throws allocated to each player, how many points can you get?  Adapt the rules as you want to. Adding more water makes it harder to knock them over; less water makes it easier.

Creative writing

Love writing? Imagine that you’re a penguin entering the water for the first time and use this sentence starter to tell a story about your mind-blowing experience of the ocean:
I pushed down my fears for the last time and set my beak determinedly towards the water. I launched forward and closed my eyes. No going back now. Cold exploded around my body and brain but when I opened my eyes, I forgot it all.  Around me was…

If you come up with an amazing story, send it to us at education@nzgeographic.co.nz and we’ll publish it online… your first NZGeo tear-sheet! (That’s fancy publishing talk for your name on published work—some people say it’s a big deal.)