These 50 penguin activities for preschoolers and toddlers will inspire a love of penguins and nature. Each play-based activity helps children actively engage in learning.
Parents can find ideas for their penguin-loving children, and educators can discover fun, interactive learning ideas for their classroom lesson plans. These activities perfectly pair with the following:
Gross Motor Penguin Activities
These penguin-based gross motor activities get kids moving. While learning all the fun ways penguins move, children will want to test their abilities. Kids can develop balance, strength, coordination, and more.
Your Personal Penguin Dance Party
Davy Jones of the Monkees wrote a song called Your Personal Penguin. Listen to the song on Youtube and dance away.
Sandra Boyton also turned the song into a children’s book.
Blow up balloons for kids to hold between their knees. Invite them to try walking and waddling across the room like penguins.
I’m one of those rebel ECE professionals that believes climbing a slide is the perfect risk-taking activity for kids.
Penguins use their bellies as sleds to slide across the ice. Invite kids to slide down the slide on their bellies.
Floor Scooter Belly Slides
Have access to floor scooters? Kids can slide across the floor on their bellies like penguins.
March of the Penguin Feet
Use construction paper or felt to cut out penguin feet. Attach them to children’s shoes or ankles and go for a penguin march.
Bundle & Waddle
Invite children to layer up in oversized sweaters, sweatshirts, jackets, and mittens. Now your puffy, bundled penguins can go for a warm waddle.
Paper Snowball Fight
No snow? Make paper balls and have an indoor snowball fight.
Have snow? Go for a waddling walk in the snow. Compare the footprints from a regular human walk to prints made while waddling like a penguin.
Invite children to try and slide on their bellies. Then talk about the tracks they made.
Snowy Belly Sledding
Encourage kids to slide down a snowy hill or a snowy slide on their bellies like a penguin.
Ice Float Hop
The floor is lava! Wait, the floor is icy cold water. Encourage children to cross the room by stepping on ice floats made of paper or felt.
Use the paper or felt ice floats from the activity above and play musical chairs.
Find the Penguin
Hide a penguin toy for children to find. They can safely return the penguin to its “nest.”
Penguins can leap 6 feet into the air to get out of the water and onto land!
Measure 6 feet high on the wall and mark it with masking tape. Invite children to jump up and try to reach the tape. Use tape to mark the highest points children can touch.
Penguin Obstacle Course
Use all of a penguin’s best moves and turn them into an obstacle course.
- Waddle across the floor.
- Belly slide down a small slide or cushion ramp.
- Verticle jump as high as you can (see above activity).
- Swim through a kiddie pool ball pit or pop-up tunnel.
Penguin Sensory Activities
Sensory play helps children make meaningful connections to their world. Add a penguin theme to sensory play and watch children’s penguin knowledge grow too. These activities give children a chance to explore natural materials and even get a little messy.
Penguins & Water Beads Sensory Bin
Add plastic penguin toys, clear water beads, and blue water beads to a sensory bin.
Gentoo penguins share a special pebble with their partner penguin.
Add a variety of stones, pebbles, and gemstones into a sensory bin. Include a sorting tray or muffin tin for sorting.
Water on Wax Paper
Explore how penguin feathers are water-resistant. Place wax paper in the bottom of a sensory bin. Children can drip water onto the wax paper using eyedroppers.
Want another layer of sensory play? Add liquid watercolor or food dye to cups of water. Children can drip different colors together and explore how they mix.
Penguins & Rice Sensory Bin
Create a snowy white sensory bin using dry white rice. Add plastic penguin toys and gemstones for more small-world play.
Want to play up the black & white color scheme? Add dry black beans.
Shaved Ice Sensory Bin
This chilly sensory bin includes shaved ice. Learn how to make shaved ice in my ice play activities post.
Add plastic penguin toys to the bin with the shaved ice. Keep gloves and mittens nearby for kids who dread frozen fingers.
Sandy Galapagos Penguins Sensory Bin
Galapagos penguins live on the sandy beaches of the Galapagos Islands.
Add sand and plastic penguin toys to a sensory bin. Add water to the bin, then explore ways to mold sand and make islands.
- Pair this activity with: 40 Best Beach Facts for Kids
Penguin Sensory Bottles
Start with empty, clean bottles.
You can create dry sensory bottles with white rice, cotton balls, baking soda, faux snow, or white sand. Or you can do a water sensory bottle (with or without blue food dye or watercolor).
I recommend using a hot glue gun to seal the lids.
Penguin Sensory Bottle Materials
- Small penguin erasers
- Penguin beads
- Clear, blue, black, white, or glitter plastic beads
- Black and white ribbons
- Blue or clear water beads
- White or clear glitter
- Snowflake beads
- Snowflake confetti
- Blue or silver glitter
- Blue and white pom-poms
Penguin Shaving Cream
Clear off a table and spray on mounds of shaving cream. Add in a few plastic penguin toys and let kids explore.
Don’t mind an even bigger mess? Add drops of black liquid watercolor to mix into the shaving cream.
Once a year, penguins go through a catastrophic molt. This is when all their feathers fall out before being replaced with new ones.
Tape contact paper to the table, sticky side up. Offer children craft feathers to stick and peel.
Reusable Ice Cube Sensory Bin
Reusable plastic ice cubes are the perfect loose part for sensory play. They are great for exploring temperature, colors, sinking/floating, and light/shadows.
Add frozen reusable ice cubes to a warm water-filled sensory bin along with penguin toys. Talk about temperatures and sinking/floating.
Countershading Light Activity
A penguin’s coloring is a type of camouflage called countershading.
When a predator swims above a penguin, it is hard to see its black back while looking down at the dark water. Predators have a hard time seeing a penguin’s white belly from below because of the bright, sunlit water.
Set out flashlights or electric tea lights alongside plastic penguin toys or penguin stuffed animals. Turn off the lights and invite children to explore light and shadows.
Save the Penguins
Freeze plastic penguin toys in ice. You can freeze the penguins in a silicone mold or drop them into water balloons to freeze.
Offer children warm water, paintbrushes, and eyedroppers to use during the rescue. Children have to melt the ice to help the penguins escape.
Floating Iceberg Sensory Bin
Place styrofoam or plastic lids into a water-filled sensory bin. Add plastic penguin toys too. Children can explore how to balance the penguins on the icebergs.
Penguin Art Activities
Because this is a list of play-based activities, each penguin art activity is process-focused. The main goal is for children to explore art materials and express themselves creatively.
Black & White Fingerpainting
Set out black and white fingerpaints for children. They can mix colors, paint penguins, or enjoy the sensory experience of fingerpainting.
Picasso Penguin Collage
I say Picasso because it’s a nice alliteration. It’s also permission for children to make abstract art. Set out some penguin-inspired elements, but let them explore.
- Construction paper
- Orange, black, and white foam or foam shapes
- Black and white ribbons
- Black and white pipe cleaners
- Snowflake confetti
Penguin Contact Paper Collage
Take the same activity above, but replace construction paper and glue with clear contact paper.
Tape letter-sized pieces of contact paper to the table, sticky side up. Children can stick and peel to create an abstract penguin-inspired collage.
Afterward, lay another sheet of contact paper on top of the collage, sticky side down. Then seal the collage together, creating a textured piece of art!
Ice Cube Penguin Painting
Heads up! This art activity takes some prep work. Follow the steps below or watch my idea pin.
- Dye water with drops of liquid watercolor or food dye. I recommend blue or mixing green and blue for teal.
- Pour the water into an ice cube tray.
- Place a small plastic penguin toy in each ice cube hole. Position so the penguin is standing.
- Freeze overnight.
Before the activity, take the ice cube penguins out of the tray to thaw for at least five minutes. This makes them easier to remove from the tray.
Set out paper on a table, along with the frozen penguin cubes. Invite children to paint using the melting colorful ice cubes.
Penguin Play Dough
Create a penguin play dough activity that invites children to create, imagine, and build fine motor skills.
Set out penguin play dough materials such as:
- White, blue, or glitter play dough
- Penguin toys or penguin erasers
- White or blue pipe cleaners
- Penguin stamps
- Googly eyes
- Snowflake beads
- Fish beads
Melting Ice Paintings
Set out ice cubes and construction paper. Invite children to draw by leaving wet lines on the construction paper with melting ice.
Penguin Sticker Comic
Children can use penguin stickers to create a comic.
- Draw thick black lines on paper to create the panels for a comic strip.
- Set out penguin stickers and other stickers for children to use.
- Winter-related stickers, activity stickers, or ocean stickers
- Invite children to create a story using the stickers.
- Ask the children to share their penguin story.
- With the children’s permission, write their story in the panels on the penguin comic.
Penguin & Snowflake Stamps
Set out penguin and snowflake stamps, paper, and ink pads. Have other fun stamps? Add those too.
Extend learning with fun snowflake facts.
Black Construction & White Crayon
Penguin-inspired art is pretty easy! Children can explore light and dark while drawing on black construction paper with white crayons.
Black Construction Paper & Chalk
Here is another black-and-white art option. Offer children black construction paper and white chalk. And maybe some blue and orange chalk too.
If you’ve spent a lot of time reading penguin stories and doing penguin activities, it can inspire penguin artwork.
Balloon Snow Globe
- Clear or white balloons
- Wide neck funnel
- Snowflake confetti
- Fake snow
- Strips of black or white ribbons
- Cotton balls
- Penguin beads, small penguin toys, or small penguin erasers
Set out all the supplies.
Stretch out a balloon and then wrap the neck around the neck of the funnel. This is going to make filling the balloon snow globe much easier.
Invite children to add the materials they want to their balloons. Once they are done, blow up the balloon big enough to easily see the materials inside.
Jar Snow Globes
Create a penguin snow globe out of an upside-down plastic jar.
- Empty plastic jars with lids (like peanut butter jars)
- Hot glue
- Small plastic penguin toy
- Fake snow
- Snowflake beads or snowflake confetti
- Hot glue the penguin toy securely inside the lid.
- Set out jars with materials for the snow globe.
- Invite children to fill their jars about half-full with materials. You can mark the halfway point with masking tape.
- Once the children are finished, twist the lid on the jar and turn the snow globe upside down. Ask the children if they want to make any changes.
- After children add or remove materials, use hot glue to secure the lid on the jar.
Pretend Play Penguin Activities
Sometimes the best way children process what they learn is by acting it out. These penguin dramatic play ideas are a chance for children to role-play, develop storylines, and express themselves. Each idea is penguin-inspired, but don’t stop kids if their imaginations go beyond the penguin props.
- Penguin Puppets
- Penguin Felt Board
- Plastic Penguin Eggs
- Fishy Snack
- Pebble Nest Small World Play
- Rock Nest Dramatic Play
Create penguin puppets out of socks, black mittens, or black gloves. Hot glue round, white felt bellies, orange triangle felt beaks, and eyes.
Penguin Felt Board
Make penguin characters out of black, white, and orange felt. Add felt fish, felt snow, and felt icebergs.
Cut out shapes to create felt penguins on a felt board.
Plastic Penguin Eggs
Set out plastic Easter eggs with toy penguins inside. Children can care for penguin eggs and raise newborn baby penguins.
Be a penguin at snack time!
Serve goldfish crackers. Or use a fish-shaped cookie cutter to make fish-shaped bread or melon.
Pebble Nest Small World Play
Some penguin species use rocks to build a nest for their eggs.
Set out pebbles and plastic penguin toys for small-world play. Use dry beans for penguin eggs.
Rock Nest Dramatic Play
Set out medium-sized rocks, plastic eggs, and stuffed animal penguins for a dramatic play activity.
An alternative is to use blankets and pillows to build a nest. Use a balloon as the penguin egg. Children can play the role of parent penguin.
More Penguin Activities
Alright, we need a few more penguin activities to ensure you have a penguin activity for everyone. From math to music to literature, you’ll hopefully find a few more penguin activities for your lesson plans here.
- Height of a Penguin
- Warm Your Egg
- Penguin Protectors
- 5 Little Penguins Song
- Penguin Counting Action Song
- Penguin Storytime
Height of a Penguin
Adult blue penguins are only 14 inches (35.5 cm) tall. Adult emperor penguins reach up to 4 feet (122 cm) tall.
Have children help you measure these heights on the wall. Mark the height with masking tape. Then measure the height of each child.
Have a conversation about the differences in heights. Spark conversations with the following open-ended questions:
- What do you notice?
- What surprised you?
Warm Your Egg
Parent emperor penguins hold their eggs on the top of their feet to keep them warm.
Give each child a large plastic egg or a ball to balance on the top of their feet. If you want to replicate the approximate size of an emperor penguin egg, use a softball.
Climate change and overfishing are threatening penguins. This activity focuses on teaching children how to take care of mama earth.
Go on a walk to pick up litter. Make sure to wear gloves for safety.
5 Little Penguins Song
Sing the 5 Little Penguins song to the tune of 5 Little Monkeys.
Five little penguins skating on the ice
One fell down, ouch not nice
Mama called the doctor
And the doctor’s advice
No more penguins skating on the ice
Penguin Counting Action Song
Combine penguins and counting with music with this action song by LittleStoryBug:
Choose a penguin book to read at storytime. Explore our favorite penguin children’s books to find a penguin story or nonfiction penguin book.
Alright penguin lovers, I hope you found the best penguin activities for your child or classroom lesson plan. Keep the penguin love and learning going with our favorite penguin children’s books and fun penguin facts.
Please comment below and share any funny stories prompted by these activities.