Mr. Popper’s Penguins Quest

One of the first chapter book audiobooks we ever listened to that the kids really enjoyed was Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. It’s really a fantastic book with such a simple, lovely story.

For this Quest, you will need to have read the book in its entirety with your children. If you don’t own a copy, I recommend checking your local library for a copy of either the book or the audiobook. 

Now, it’s time to Quest!

For this Quest you will need:

  • All printable worksheets (see below)
  • Pencils
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Pom-poms
  • Paper towel and toilet paper rolls (5-10 at least)
  • Masking tape
  • Cup
  • Ice cubes (see below)
  • 3 small bowls
  • Baking soda (1 tsp)
  • Salt (1 tsp)
  • Pepper (1 tsp)
  • 6 clothespins
  • Cookie sheet or 9×13 pan with water (see below)
  • Stuffed animal or pillow (1 per kid)
  • 3 craft sticks
  • Cardboard (enough for 3 ramps)
  • Strip of felt 
  • Strip of wax paper
  • Ruler 

Pre-Quest Prep:

The home-educator should read through the Quest in advance, to be sure he or she has everything necessary and to-hand. Print off all necessary worksheets, one per student, and prepare them as required. 

Special directions: For this Quest, be sure you have at least three ice cubes handy for #4. Prep the book for #2 by cutting and stapling. Also, fill a cookie sheet or 9×13 pan with a thin layer of water and freeze for #5. 

Save and print.

Print and cut these penguins. Glue the first two penguins with the numbers on them to two of the clothespins for #5. Glue the three sliding penguins to the three craft sticks for #7. (You could also save these two things for the kids to do when they choose that activity, if you’d like.)

In this Quest, kids will learn: writing, parts of a story, reading, sight words, creative construction, physical movement, sequencing, measurement, prepositions, engineering, lots of science, hypotheses, and scientific observation.

The Quest

Mr. Popper’s penguins are putting together a show for him. Complete the activities to learn the penguins’ favorite place to dance!

Save and print.

Kids can complete the activities in any order. Each number and letter with corresponding activity is listed below. 

1 (A)—Book Report

Fill out this book report worksheet to talk about the book Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater. For younger readers and writers, encourage them to draw pictures in any sections you’d like. 

Save and print.

2 (S)— What melts ice? 

The ice for Mr. Popper’s penguins had to be kept in an ice box so it wouldn’t melt. Place a cube of ice in three separate bowls. Place out baking soda, salt, and pepper. Make a hypothesis of what you think will melt the ice the fastest. 

Then place one teaspoon of each thing on each of the three bowls. Set to the side, but leave where you can check on it throughout the day. Which melted the fastest? Which melted first, second, third?

3 (N)—Read: The Penguins

Read and write through this sight word book written by Patricia Meredith and illustrated by Beth Rizzo. To prep: save the images below, print, cut, and staple along the outer margin. 

Have the kids use the word bank on the last page to fill in the blanks in the story. Explain the difference between singular and plural, is and are, periods and exclamation points. 

4 (O)— Into the Icebox 

The penguins need a cold place to live, and Mr. Popper soon realizes the icebox is the best place for them. 

Use paper towel rolls and toilet paper rolls to make a series of ramps on the wall with tape. Roll pom-pom “penguins” down the tubes into cups.

Designate a cup as the “icebox” and have the kids construct a way to get all the penguins from the upper floors of the house into the icebox in the basement!

5 (W)— Make an Ice Hockey Game

In Mr. Popper’s Penguins, the Poppers have to convert their basement into an icy land perfect for penguins and full of places to play!

Grab the two clothespins with penguins glued to them. If you decided to have the kids make them, have them do so now. Also, grab four more clothespins and a plastic cap (like the part of a gallon of milk you can’t recycle). Pull the pan of water out of the freezer just before you’re ready to play. Clip the other four clothespins to either end of your tray to mark the goals.

Have your kids sit on either end of the pan and hold a player penguin. Let them take turns being the first with the puck, trying to make a goal on the other side. Keep score with tally marks. The first to five goals wins!

After playing, talk about friction: the resistance between two objects when moving against each other. Did the ice reduce or increase in friction the longer you played? Did it make it easier or harder to hit the puck across the ice?

6 (B)—Waddle Like a Penguin

The Popper kids think the penguins are the cutest thing, and wish they could play with the penguins all the time! 

Pick a stuffed animal or pillow to be your “baby penguin.” Place it between your legs. Now walk around the room without dropping it! Set up obstacles for your kids to move around. Practice prepositions by calling out “over,” “around,” “through,” “between,” etc.

7 (L)—Friction Study

In Mr. Popper’s Penguins, part of the Poppers’ show includes having the penguins slide and do tricks!

Make three ramps out of cardboard. They need to be about 12 in. long and 3 in. wide. Add felt to one and wax paper to another. Grab the three craft sticks with sliding penguins glued to them. If you decided to have the kids make them, have them do so now. 

Tape the ramps to a box and ensure the top/start of the ramp is at least 6 in. off the table to provide enough of an incline for the penguins to slide down on their own. 

Save and print.

Now it’s time to investigate friction. Print the worksheet above. Which ramp will make the penguin slide the farthest after the ramp? Record your hypotheses before starting the friction investigation. Then, slide each penguin down each ramp at least three times. Record your observations, using rulers to measure. Record your conclusion.


For extra fun, check out these adorable penguins at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo!

We hope you had an amazingly fun time learning and playing with the penguins! Be sure to tell us in the comments how it went! Happy Questing!

Special thanks to Beth Rizzo for all the ADORABLE illustrations of penguins!

P. Meredith

The game is afoot! Leave us a comment to tell us how your Quest went!

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