Winter Animals
Children learn about where animals live in the winter and how they adapt to cold climates. Children learn about the penguin and its adaptation to a year-long winter-like climate. Grades PreK– 2

Lesson Plans
  • Learn about where animals live during the winter.
  • Understand how to use a bar graph.
  • Learn about a cold weather bird, the penguin.
  • Explore how penguins move in their environment.

Time: two class periods

Set Up/Prepare


Part 1

Part 2

  • globe or world map
  • books with penguin illustrations
  • 4 inch square construction paper
  • scissors
  • tape
  • 4x8 inch strip of paper
  • colored markers
  • reproducible for "Go, Penguins, Go!"
Part 1: Find the Animals
  • Ask children to share what they may know about where animals live in the winter.
  • Explain that because it is cold during winter there is little food for animals to eat. The animals slow down, find warmth, and go to sleep for the winter. That way the animals save their energy and don't need to eat.
  • Copy the reproducible and distribute it to students. Ask which season is shown in the drawing.
  • Discuss where the animals are located in the drawing (under the ice, in a tree trunk, and so forth.) Do students think animals would be in the same locations during the summer?

    Go to Assignment for Part 1

These free resources are PDF files. To print them you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader software (version 4.0 or higher.) If you do not have the software already installed, , click here to download a FREE copy.

Part 2: Go, Penguins, Go!

  • Encourage children to share what they know about penguins. Using a globe or world map point out Antarctica. Explain that it is very cold here most of the year. Many penguins make Antarctica their home. Explain that penguins are only found in areas below the Equator.
  • As you read the following to children, show illustrated examples of penguins.

Penguins can't fly. And though they are great swimmers and most at home in the sea, penguins must also get around on land. A penguin isn't built for taking long steps. Its long body has short legs set far back on its body. This makes their walk an awkward waddle. They may look clumsy, but most penguins can walk as fast as a person.

Many penguins also hop to climb slopes or cross over rocky areas. The rockhopper penguin can hop up a slope 400 feet high by taking short hops from one boulder to another. If the slope is too steep, a rockhopper can grasp a rock with its hooked beak and pull itself up.

A third way penguins get around on land is by sliding on their bellies. This is called tobogganing. First a penguin flops on its stomach, then it slides and glides along on the ice and snow pushing with its feet and paddle-like wings. A penguin can toboggan for miles, moving much faster then it could by waddling or hopping.

  • Explain to children that they will make models of penguins to explore how they move.
  • Distribute the reproducible of the penguins. Have children color the two rockhopper penguins, if desired.
  • Have children cut out both double penguins along the solid back outer lines.
  • Demonstrate how to fold each penguin in half along the dotted line on top if its head.
  • Fold the flap and tab along the dotted lines under the penguin's feet.
  • Tape the bottom flap to give each penguin a stable base.
  • Tape the WADDLE penguin's base to both ends of the construction paper square. The paper will make a rocker.
  • Fold the 4 x 80 inch strip of construction paper into an accordion, with each fold about 1 1/2 inches wide.
  • Tape the HOP penguin onto the top fold. Then tape the top two folds. Then tape the top two folds of the accordion.

Go to Assignment for Part 2

Part 1: Find the Animal
Have children complete the winter animal graph. Once they have finished, they may want to color in the picture.

Part 2: Go, Penguins, Go!
Have children work in small groups to explore with their models how penguins move. Encourage them to model hopping, waddling, and tobogganing.

Assessment of Skills and Knowledge

Ask the group to respond orally about what animals do in the winter, and questions about how penguins move.


  • As a follow-up to Find the Animals, use books or online resources, such as Animals in Winter to learn more about hibernation. Can children discover three different animals that hibernate in the winter?
  • As a follow-up to Go, Penguins, Go! read the following books with children:
  • Penguin Chick by Michele McKenzie, Monterey Bay Aquarium Press, 2000, Monterey, California
  • Penguins: Animals of the Ocean by Judith Hodge-Walker, Judith Hodge, and Susan Brocker, Barrows Juvenile, 1999 New York, New York
  • Penguins: First Discovery Books by Rene Mettlerand and Gallimaud Jeunesse, Cartwheel Books/Scholastic, 1996 New York, New York.

Teacher Reflection About Lesson

  • Was the time allotted sufficient to complete the lesson?
  • Did children successfully complete their winter animal graphs?
  • Did children understand how penguins move by exploring movement with their models?