There's something about penguins that makes them irresistible.  The way they waddle so awkwardly in their tuxedo-like skin and then slide and dive and swim gracefully is just intriguing.  While it's cold outside, celebrate cold-climate life with a penguin storytime.
Antarctic Antics by Judy Sierra is a fun book of rhyming poems about Emperor penguins.  Share a few or a bunch of the poems depending on the amount of time you have, but don't worry about loosing students' attention.  Sierra's poems have a catchy cadence, and each one is cram-packed with bits of true information about penguins' habits, features, and adaptations.  The illustrations and endearing poems will engage little listeners, but older students will enjoy the rhyming science as well.  This book could also make a fun introduction for a life science lesson. Read one of the poems, "Regurgitate," at Judy Sierra's site. 
Your Personal Penguin by Sandra Boynton is a happy penguin friendship story that can be appreciated by all ages.  The best part about this book is that it comes with a cool musical version of the story that's sung by Davy Jones of The Monkees.  Visit the Workman Publishing site to hear the song, download the song, or see this neat video of Davy Jones recording "Your Personal Penguin" in the studio.
I have shared this book and song with students for the last five years, and it has never failed. Young students especially enjoy singing along with the song and waddling like a penguin.

After the read-aloud, take advantage of the theme to teach a geography lesson.
Use this interactive map to show where penguins live around the world.  Students can click on the red areas to find out lots more about the types of penguins indigenous to each area.

Visit Penguins of the Antarctic by PBS to see this cool, interactive map of penguin distribution in Antarctica.  You can use the map to compare the locations of different types of penguins on the continent.

Finally, let students make their own personal penguin with this super simple shape craft.  First, students glue a small white oval onto a large black oval.  Discuss the colors and shapes as you go along.  Next, two small white circle make the penguin's eyes.  Finally, students use three small orange triangles to make a bill and feet.  All they need is a little glue.  I think glue sticks are less messy, so that's what I like to use.

 If you have extra time, students can use crayons to add more details to their penguins.


Winter Storytime

Cold days are an especially great time for reading good books.  This winter, I have run across a couple of wintery books that make super read-alouds.  Both of these stood my two-fold, read-aloud test.  First, the book must hold the attention of large groups of elementary students of various ages.  Second, and perhaps more importantly, it should be fun (for the reader) to read, even on the 18th or 25th time through.
Winter Woes by Marty Kelley, is a funny rhyming story about a very worried boy planning how to spend a snowy day.  This story has mega kid-appeal.  My students love watching the boy's imaginative story about being so cold his boogers freeze when his nose runs.

Robert Sabuda's Winter's Tale has a totally different, but equally powerful, appeal.
If you've read any of Sabuda's pop-up books, you know you're in for a treat.  This book depicts winter scenes filled with forest animals surrounded in shimmering snow and ice.  My students literally ooed and awed as each page opened up to reveal its 3D paper artistry.

Before indoor recess leaves you fit to be tied, share one of these books with your weather-bound learners.  Then let me know what book is your favorite winter read-aloud.


Free Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Materials

Check out MLKDay.gov, The Corporation for National Community Service's Martin Luther King, Jr. Day page, to order free bookmarks, sticker, posters and other materials to help you share the upcoming holiday with your students.

Then read my Martin Luther King Day article from last year to find links and resources for teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the holiday that commemorates him.

Image from MLKDay.org.


Free Printable, Foldable Calendars

 Here in the midst of winter and at the very beginning of a new year, it's the perfect time for a wintery printable calendar.  Visit the Curiosity Calendar of the Month Club to find this amazing printable, foldable Yeti calendar.
As a bonus, you will get a Yeti limerick along with the easy-to-construct foldable.  After having an abominable snowman sighting of your own, then look forward to eleven more months of adorable 3D calendars.


High Five: Author's Sites

Visiting an author's website can be a fun way to learn more about books you like and the people who wrote them.  Lots of authors offer information about themselves and the books they've written.  But, some author's sites go the extra mile.  Here, in alphabetical order, are my five favorite children's book author's sites and why I love them.

1. Jan Brett
Jan Brett is the author and illustrator of dozens of books for children. Each of Brett's books are jam-packed with beautiful, meticulously detailed drawings.  At JanBrett.com, you can have lots more fun will Brett's amazing illustrations. Visit the Activities, Coloring Pages, and Murals links to find hundreds of free printable gems that correspond with and use characters from Brett's books.  The amazing offerings are FAR too many to list.  A few cool examples are bookmarks, calendars, murals of her books' scenes, math flashcards, and this fantastic Chinese Zodiac Chart.
2. Dav Pilkey
Dav Pilkey is best known as the author of the Captain Underpants series about two fourth graders and a superhero who is really the nice alter-ego of their grouchy school principal.  Captain Underpants and Pilkey's many other books are featured at Pilkey.com.  Pilkey's site is designed in keeping with the imaginative, irreverent style that made kids fall in love with his books. Visit the Groovy Games pages to find bunches of online games featuring Pilkey's characters, and check out Junk, Stuff, and Thingies to find coloring pages, e-cards, music, and Pilkey's entire first book, World War Won.  Find even more goodies by visiting the Duh? and New Stuff links.

3. Judy Schachner
Judy Schachner is the author of Skippyjon Jones, one of my most favorite picture books.  At SkippyjonJones.com, visit the Downloads page to find cool wallpapers, worksheets, and coloring pages.  Click over to the Teachers page to find curriculum connections, a readers' theater script, and other activities to go with the Skippyjon books.   Also check out the Videos and Games pages.

4. Marilyn Scott-Waters
Marilyn Scott-Waters is the author of The Toymaker and The Toymaker's Christmas. TheToymaker.com is filled to the brim with printable fun.  Click over to the Free Toys page to find a long list of detailed, colorful illustrations to print and play with.  Finger puppets, stationery, a fairy wand and a bunny bowling set are among the prizes Scott-Waters offers.  Then check out the Holidays page to get printable activities for holidays through the year.

5. Shel Silverstein
Shel Silverstein was an amazing multi-talented artist who has been one of my favorite authors since I was in elementary school.  Over ten years since Silverstein's death, students still can't get enough of the unique and usually silly poetry in A Light in the Attic and Where the Sidewalk Ends. ShelSilverstein.com has tons of cool resources for kids and adults including e-cards, online games, animated poems, Poetry Month activities and lots more.

Images from JanBrett.com, Pilkey.com, TheToymaker.com, SkippyjonJones.com.