Teaching Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Mr. Popper's Penguins Teaching Ideas

Mr. Popper’s Penguins is one of those rare classic tales that students love! I’ve discovered that this book is perfect for both third and fourth graders who love the silliness of a family dealing with a house full of penguins.

The story centers around Mr. Popper, a house painter who longs for adventure. He writes to Admiral Drake, an Antarctic explorer, who ships him a penguin. Mr. Popper names the penguin Admiral Cook after the explorer. Soon Admiral Cook becomes lonely, so the zoo sends Mr. Popper a second penguin. The two have 10 young ones. The humorous tale begins in earnest as the penguins turn the Popper’s house and life upside down.

Five Activities to use with Mr. Popper’s Penguins

Activity #1 [Music]

Mr. Popper had the idea of training the penguins to perform for an audience to earn money.  They moved the piano down to the cellar. Mrs. Popper played three different pieces of music. The penguins were trained to perform a certain act when each piece of music was played on the piano.

Click on this link to listen to the three pieces of music. Explain how the music and the movements work together.

Activity #2 [Penguin Crafts]

Click on the images to visit the different sites for instructions. [Note: The craft and food ideas come from various websites. The links will take you to a new window. Once you have read about the activity, you can close the window to return to this page.]

Penguin Craft

These super cut penguins are made from paper towel rolls. The website
provides step-by-step instructions with photos.

Penguin Craft

How cute is this!! The penguin is made form a toilet paper roll.

Penguin Paintings

The website explains “How to Draw a Penguin”

Torn Paper Penguin Craft

 Torn Paper Penguin

Activity #3 [Penguin Edibles]

Frozen Banana Penguins


Activity #4 [Ten Interesting Facts]

This anchor chart was created with the help of a small group of RTI students. The students wrote their facts on lined sticky notes. Students then created this simple penguin from construction paper. The anchor chart was quick and easy to make, and the students were super proud of the finished product.

Penguin Anchor Chart

Penguin Facts Anchor Chart

Ten Interesting Facts

  1. Seventeen species of penguins are found in the Southern Hemisphere. Thirteen of these are either threatened or endangered. The most common threats are pollution, loss of habitat, and global warming.
  2. Penguins cannot fly. They like to slide on their tummies over the ice and snow.
  3. The penguins’ colors help camouflage it. The black blends in with the ocean from above and their white bellies blend in with the sunshine when under water looking up.
  4. Penguins lose and replace all their feathers at once. The molting process takes about 2 to 3 weeks. During this time, penguins stay on land.
  5. Many species of penguins mate for life. Most species go the same nesting site year after year. Both male and female penguins look after their young.
  6. The male Emperor Penguin incubates a single egg under a loose fold of skin on the top of his feet. This takes approximately 64-67 days. During this time, the male can lose around 26 pounds.
  7. Larger species live in the colder regions.
  8. Penguins have excellent hearing. This helps them find their mates.
  9. Penguins have no land predators in the Southern Hemisphere. Because they are not used to predators, penguins do not fear humans.
  10. Penguins spend several hours each day preening and caring for their feathers. They must take good care of their feathers to keep them waterproof. Penguins also use their feathers as insulation. They trap a layer of air next to their skin under their feathers for warmth.
Download the printable facts here.Read

Activity #5 – Mr. Popper’s Penguins Book Unit Sample

Download a sample of Mr. Popper’s Penguins Novel Study here. You can get the full book unit here.

Mr. Popper's Penguins Novel Study
Mr. Popper's Penguins Novel Study
Mr. Popper's Penguins Novel Study


Mr. Popper's Penguins Novel Study
Mr. Popper's Penguins Novel Study
Mr. Popper's Penguins Novel Study


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