Lesson plan

Interesting Animals: Penguins

Penguins are such interesting animals! Help your students practice identifying the main topic and key ideas in a nonfiction text using this fun penguin-themed lesson plan.
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to share key ideas from a text in conversations and writing.

(5 minutes)
  • Introduce the lesson by displaying the different images of Antarctica and penguins.
  • Display the prewritten T-chart titled with "What We Think about Penguins" on one side and "What We Know About Penguins" on the other side.
  • Ask the students to look carefully at the images and ask, "What do you think about penguins?"
  • Have students participate in a peer conversation by turning and talking to a partner. Instruct them share an idea using the sentence stem, "I think penguins ____."
  • Invite a few volunteers to share either their own or their partner's thought with the whole group. Record students' thinking on the “What We Think About Penguins” side of the T-chart.
  • Explain that today you will be learning all about penguins and how to discuss facts about them!
(10 minutes)
  • Read aloud the book National Geographic Kids: Penguins by Anne Schreiber.
  • Pause as you read to consider unfamiliar words. Prompt students to predict the meaning of new words by asking, "What do you think ____ means? What makes you think that?"
  • After finishing the story ask, "What do you now know about penguins?" Tell students to turn and talk to a partner and share at least one thing they learned from the book. Provide the sentence frame, "I learned that penguins ____."
  • Choose a few volunteers to share information with the whole class, and add ideas to the “What We Know About Penguins” side of the T-chart.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask students to think about the book you just read as you read over the information written on the T-chart about penguins.
  • Say something like, “There are so many interesting facts we have learned! What do you think the main idea is, or what is the book was about? That’s right, the main idea, or topic of the book, was penguins."
  • Define key idea by saying, “In our book there were lots of different key ideas we learned. A key idea is an important piece of information that the author shared. One of my favorite key ideas is how penguins stay warm.”
  • Play the “Penguin Huddle” game with your class.
  • Explain or review how penguins stay warm; they huddle together in a group and rotate which position they have in order to spread the warmth.
    • Explain that the students will all get to pretend to be penguins as they all huddle up together while walking like a penguin! As they are huddling, encourage students to move around so that they are sometimes in the middle of the huddle and sometimes on the outside of the huddle.
(20 minutes)
  • Explain that students will now get to choose their favorite key idea to share with the class using a writing page.
  • Display the Interesting Penguins worksheet and explain that students should choose two key ideas about penguins to write on the worksheet. They can then illustrate their thinking.
  • Pass out a copy of the Interesting Penguins worksheet to each student.


  • For students who need additional support, encourage them to use the information written on the T-Chart on their writing page.


  • For advanced students or those who finish early, they can either complete a second Interesting Penguins worksheet using different key ideas, or they can complete the Penguin Anatomy Diagram worksheet.
(5 minutes)
  • Assess student understanding by conversing with students during the independent work portion of the lesson. Ask them to share the key ideas they chose to write about on their worksheet.
  • Collect student work samples and assess whether students were able to write about two key facts from the text.
(5 minutes)
  • Close the lesson by asking several students to share out one of the key ideas that they chose to write about. Tell students to give a thumbs up if they wrote about the same key idea as a peer.
  • Say, “There are so many interesting key ideas you all found in the text and used in your writing!"

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