Science-Based Extensions for Nonfiction

Ann O'Connor

Editor's note: Ann O'Connor, a grade 2-3 teacher from California, told us that she used "The Amazing Penguin Rescue," the nonfiction feature in the December 2017/January 2018 issue of Storyworks Jr., as a jumping-off point for a cool science experiment and a simple research project. Here they are—just in time for Penguin Awareness Day on January 20!


Feather Experiment:

  1. Hand out one feather to each student. You can get the feathers at Michaels or another craft store. 
  2. Students place the feather into water. We did this in a scooping action, just as the penguin would be diving into the water. Students recorded what happened to the feather in their science journal. (It was still dry. It kept its shape.)
  3. With the same movement, student dipped their feather in vegetable oil. Students immediately noticed how heavy their feather became. Students recorded this and other observations in their journals.
  4. Students tried to wash the feather out in water then recorded that it did not remove the oil.
  5. Students washed the feather in water that contained very little dishwashing soap, then recorded their findings. They were most surprised by how light the feather felt when it was clean.



Penguin iPad Activity:

  1. Google "penguins" and choose an image that you can identify as a specific species of penguin. Save the image to your camera roll.
  2. Research facts about that species of penguin and record important facts in your writing journal.
  3. In your journal, create your own paragraph, incorporating facts in your own words.
  4. Open “Book Creator” and choose portrait.
  5. Import your picture and add text. Label your picture and include a title.
  6. I had students export their projects to their Google Drive and share it with me so I could print it. 


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