Before the June holidays, we did a home learning theme on penguins. It was triggered by a conversation we had about a trip we made to the bird park previously, and the kids shared how they liked the way the penguins waddle.
I tried to make the penguin theme as holistic as possible, injecting factual information, fiction stories and craft. For fiction books, I chose Oliver Jeffer's books - Up and Down and Lost and Found.
EV and AA loved the penguin inside the books, and repeatedly ask for both to be read to them. Very often, I would use our reading sessions to conduct a simple comprehension exercise to access their understanding of the print story and their inferences of the visuals they see. For example, when they see the visual of the penguin standing alone on the ice, away from the rest of the penguins, how did they think the penguin felt? I feel that such an activity can help EV and AA understand the stories on a deeper level, and also helps to build their visual literacy.
Chinese books play an important part of our home learning journey, and of course, it was no exception for this penguin theme. We got books from the library shared facts and stories about penguins in Mandarin. There is also this heartwarming tale about how parent penguins love baby penguins from Flip for Joy that we enjoyed reading.
We engaged in simple comprehension activities in Mandarin, similar to what was being done during our English sessions, so that EV's and AA's narrative understanding and visual literacy can transcend different languages.
Besides narrative stories, I also introduced non-fiction books so EV and AA can learn various facts about penguins, such as their biology, living environment and so on. One of my favourites is this book by Miles Kelly. It is filled with very realistic pictures and information is presented in bite-size snippets, which are extremely easy for little kids to digest.
As a follow-up, we also had some whiteboard time, where we reviewed what we learnt about penguins.
I printed penguin-themed worksheets online, pegged at different levels to suit EV and AA.
I also designed worksheets for EV, focusing on comprehension of poems about penguins. It was something she found interesting to do, because some of the poems are sung to the tune of nursery rhymes that she is familiar with.
For our penguin craft, we recycled plastic bottles. The ones we used are the large ones from Watson’s, which are nicely curved to be able to pass off as penguins. I got the kids to paste paper all around the plastic, and when they dried, they painted their penguins.
EV decided to be different and painted her penguin red, with her fingers. AA decided to use his fist. Later, we added felt wings and beaks, and foam eyes. EV’s in a ‘red’ stage now, so her red penguin just has to have red wings.
These penguins may not be able to head into the water, but they sure can keep the kids’ imagination going.
What home learning activities are you doing? Do share!