It would be impossible to learn about Antarctica without studying its most famous inhabitants-penguins! Emperor penguins to be more specific. These unique birds are some of the only living things that can withstand the brutal winters of Antarctica. To learn more about these amazing birds we watched a brief video. It began with the female laying her egg and transferring it to the male. We saw how the male then balances the egg on his feet and covers it with his brood pouch. All winter long he huddles with the other males to keep warm and protect the egg while the female has gone off to eat. When the chick hatches the female returns to take care of the chick. But how can she find her chick among the thousands? She recognizes the voice of her mate! The children were fascinated by this whole process. After the lesson, several acted out what they had learned-moms going off to sea to eat, swimming away from predators. Dads balancing an “egg” or a chick on their feet calling out (with different calls) to find their mate. Regurgitating food for the baby chick to eat. It was so fun to watch the children make this lesson come to life!
Later in the week we talked about blubber and how it helps to keep penguins warm. The children were able to experience this first hand with the help of our “blubber glove”. (A bag filled with vegetable shortening to simulate blubber). First the children put their hand in a basin of ice water. Next they put a bag around their hand (to represent waterproof feathers) and then put their hand in the ice water. Finally they put their hand in the blubber glove and then in the ice water. All were in agreement that the blubber really works to keep the animals warm.