The Emperor Penguin's Egg

California Academy of Sciences
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Activity , Lesson/Lesson Plan
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be "fully aligned," the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.


Average Rating

3 (1 reviews)

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Most Recent Review

5 Penguin's Egg Activity

This was a fabulous lesson! I used this in my science lab for the 1st graders. The students were thoroughly engaged and left with an understanding of the difficulty of taking care of young for survival. The lesson is easily adjustable to suit your needs. (I used egg cartons for flippers)


Students read a book about Emperor penguins and learn about how parental behavior helps their offspring to survive. Then students use what they have learned to model how Emperor penguins care for the eggs of their young. Note: Teachers need to supply the book or use online resources, such as uTube, where the book is read aloud. One possible source could be:

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Kindergarten
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

1-LS1-2 Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive.

Clarification Statement: Examples of patterns of behaviors could include the signals that offspring make (such as crying, cheeping, and other vocalizations) and the responses of the parents (such as feeding, comforting, and protecting the offspring).

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The book mentioned must be obtained by the teacher. Other books can also be substituted that cover the same topic. The Virtual Field Trips are extensions that can help toward reaching the performance expectation, but there is a cost involved. In order to strengthen the performance expectation, additional supporting materials/lessons/activities should be included.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Use the discussion questions provided in the lesson and encourage students to identify patterns in behavior between the adult and young penguins that help them to survive.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Have students identify specific behaviors of adult penguins that enable the survival of young penguins and what might happen if parents did not engage in these specific behaviors. Compare these behaviors to more common animals, such as dogs or cats, with which students may be more familiar. Record students' responses and display them so students can refer to them as they make comparisons.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this crosscutting concept, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
After students engage in the activity of modeling how adult penguins carry the eggs of their young, use the discussion questions provided in the lesson to help students to identify patterns in their own behavior during the activity and compare them to patterns in the behavior of adult penguins. Ask them to share what happened when these patterns were broken. Patterns can include; how the egg was carried, how their gait was affected, speed of gait, etc.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Students read grade appropriate texts about Emperor penguins to gain information about patterns in the behavior of adults and their offspring that enable the offspring to survive. They engage in an activity that models these behavioral patterns. Students obtain and discuss information that builds on their prior experiences while gaining new knowledge about the natural world. The integration of learning about adult animals taking care of their young and the kinesthetic experience of modeling the behavior is well done.

  • Instructional Supports: The lesson provides excellent background information for the teacher and several suggestions for modifications in order to enable all students to participate in the activity. Discussion questions are provided and additional resources for further reading are cited. The teacher should provide additional resources and written opportunities for students to show their learning.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: There is little information about how to assess students' learning through this activity, however, the discussion and activity itself can be used by the teacher as formative assessment of students' learning and is appropriate for this grade level. Teachers can utilize a checklist to track individual student responses.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is no need for technology in this lesson unless the teacher provides an online narrated resource for the book suggested in the lesson plan.