Homeschooling with Penguins

Let penguins add some pizzazz to your homeschool day. These love-able birds, which zoom through the water instead of the sky, are probably one of the most popular animals for children and adults alike. Their characteristic tuxedo coloring and comical waddling make them even more endearing.

Cute as they may be, penguins have a lot to teach your children. Today, we’ll talk about how you can incorporate Surprise Ride’s Penguin Kit into your homeschooling day.

What comes in the box?

  • A parent information card, a four-sided penguin fact card, and a collectible trading card
  • A penguin pillow kit complete with stuffing and pre-cut fabric
  • An adorable wind-up penguin toy (Seriously, this critter is cute!)
  • A paperback copy of the Magic Tree House Book, Merlin Missions: #12 Eve of the Emperor Penguin by Mary Pope Osborne

How much homeschool mileage can you get out of this one simple box? A lot! Here are some ways to fit the Penguin Surprise Ride Kit into your homeschool day.

  • Language Arts – The Merlin Missions books from the Magic Tree House series are written on a third grade level. Ten chapters of a riveting story are followed by several pages of supplementary material, including facts on Antarctica and penguins, an ice cream recipe, and a ten page preview of the Magic Tree House Fact Tracker book: Antarctica and Penguins. This book may also pique your child’s interest in other penguin books such as Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater and, for younger kids, the Penguin series by Salina Yoon. The book and other included learning materials provide a fresh source of new vocabulary and spelling words. And of course, reading is a prompt for writing, which can range from book reports to journal entries to short stories or poems. Hmm, what rhymes with penguin?


  • Geography – The Arctic and Antarctic are different regions on opposite ends of the Earth. Explore the South and North Poles on a globe or in an atlas. Check out library books about the regions. Make a topical map with clay or salt dough. Repurpose small boxes into mini dioramas, one for the North Pole and one for the South Pole. Stack them on top of each other and watch your child delight in teaching others about the far ends of our planet.


  • Chemistry – Introduce very basic chemistry skills by studying the properties of ice.  Make a “fishing pole” by attaching a piece of string or yarn to a pencil or wooden skewer. Float an ice cube in a small bowl of water. Drape the loose end of the string on top of the ice cube and sprinkle some table salt on the spot where the string touches the ice.  Count to ten slowly, and then try lifting the ice cube out with your pole. Many other fun ice and water experiments can be found online or in science experiment books from your public library.


  • Biology  – Penguins live in the Antarctic, and polar bears live in the Arctic. Find out what other animals live in these two regions. Discuss how the animals adapt to their environment.  Study the different types of penguins, including the Gentoo, the Rockhopper, and the Emperor penguin. Examine why penguin wings are better suited for swimming than flying. Even though they don’t fly, discover why they are classified as birds and not fish or mammals.


  • Math – On the fun fact card, kids will learn that Gentoo penguins can swim 22 miles per hour, and Rockhoppers can jump up to five feet in the air. Depending on age and grade level, either you or your children can come up with fun math problems based on these fascinating bits of information. Making the pillow can be used to practice simple counting skills, as well as calculating perimeter and area.


The beauty of homeschooling is that your child can learn so many things from  completing a high interest, hands-on project. In addition to the academics listed above, your kids will gain a life long skill with this kit – knot tying.  The pillow does not require any sewing. The fabric is already fringed with strips on the side that are knotted together to hold the stuffing in. Perhaps this kit is your child’s first introduction to handicrafts.  After completing this kit, you and your kids might want to make more knotted fleece pillows or blankets. Think ahead! You can get started on holiday presents and check off some objectives on your homeschool list at the same time.

This kit is suitable for children as young as three. In addition to learning opportunities, this kit provides plenty of fun and relaxation. The windup penguin and the soft pillow will become treasures, and the book will find an honored spot on your reading shelf. Plus, the kit is the perfect prerequisite for a field trip to the penguin exhibit at the zoo!

Hooray for penguins!

Lillian Pluta is a former middle school language arts teacher, a published children’s book author, a seasoned homeschool mom with co-op teaching experience, and a freelance blogger. She currently lives along the South Texas coast with her family and a small menagerie of rescued animals. When she’s not teaching or writing, she enjoys learning to play classical guitar and watching sumo wrestling.