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Quack, Quack! Create a Learning Center with These Duck Ideas

written by: Tania Cowling • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 6/6/2012

Young children have a natural kinship with animals and ducks are a favorite in preschool. Your class will have a terrific time learning with these hands-on and sensory experiences in for a duck learning center.

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    All About Ducks

    IMG 6226 Good learning centers don't just happen! They take good planning, taking into account the goals, needs, and interests of the children, as well as the curriculum and developmentally appropriate activities. Since children love animals, use the duck as your theme and plan center activities with the ideas below. Whether you have separate areas or just set up different sections of a table, you can implement these duck ideas for the day.

    Begin with a little science about ducks, which are birds. The male duck is called a drake and the female is called a duck. Their babies are ducklings. In the spring, the female duck lays eggs, sometimes up to ten or more. After four weeks, the yellow ducklings hatch.

    Ducks have webbed feet, so they are good swimmers. They eat tadpoles, snails, worms, and plants that they find in the water. The duck body parts include a bill, wing, webbed feet, and feathers. Bring out books and show the children pictures of ducks and their body parts.

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    Sink and Float Activities

    Ducks have air sacs on their body that allow them to float. When the air sacs are full, the duck bobs along effortlessly on top of the water. When the duck empties its air sacs, it can dive under the water to look for food. Do this experiment to show the children this concept.

    You will need a tub of water and two balloons. Blow up the first balloon and tie a knot in the end. Leave the other balloon empty. Invite one child to place the full balloon in the water and have them push it down. What happens? It will bob back up to the surface. Then have another child place the empty balloon in the water and push it down. Does it come back up to the top? No, it has no air so it sinks.

    This can begin a lesson on sinking and floating. What other objects can you put into the basin? Which ones sink? What objects float? Try objects such as a leaf, rock, crayon, feather, string, and so on.

    Note: Supervise children when near any body of water, even small basins. Also, make sure to collect the balloons as they can become choking hazards if the children place a piece in their mouths.

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    Duck Art and Song

    Invite the children to trace around a duck template (cardboard or cookie cutter) on yellow construction paper. Let them attempt to cut out the shape with safety scissors. Very young children will need your help. Place this duck shape aside for later.

    The next step is for the children to sponge paint the water (blue paint) onto white construction paper. Tell them to dip the sponges into the paint and dab over the entire paper. When dry, glue the yellow duck and the following song verse to the paper. The children will enjoy making this picture, learning the song, and taking it home to share with their family.

    Type and photocopy this song, so the children will have a copy on their art page.

    There's a little white duck sitting on the water,

    A little white duck doing what he oughta!

    He took a bite of the lily pad, flapped his wings

    and he said, "I'm glad

    I'm a little white duck sitting in the water,

    Quack, quack, quack!"

    Traditional Song - Author Unknown

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    Matching Duck Eggs

    Bring out the plastic eggs you may have collected from Easter. Challenge the children to match the colors of the eggs as they reassemble them (present them opened). Also, fill several baskets with cellophane grass or raffia to resemble pretend duck nests. Have the children sort the eggs by color and place them in these nests. Another task would be to place a number card at each basket, and ask the children to place the correct number of eggs into each nest.

    Use these duck center ideas for preschool and others that you can think of or research for your theme. The best centers are those that allow the children to explore, create, communicate, interact, solve problems, and have fun with one another. Remember play is learning!

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    Suggested Books

    Here is a list of several fun books to read:Duck Book thumbnail-1 

    • Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
    • One Duck Stuck by Phyllis Root
    • Five Little Ducks by Penny Ives
    • 10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle
    • Ducks Don't Wear Socks by John Nedwedik


  • Photo by dtcreations on
  • Book cover courtesy of
  • The information offered in this article is based on the author's personal experience as an early childhood teacher.
  • Daily Plans for Active Preschoolers by Judy Galloway, Lynette Ivey, Gloria Valster; The Center for Applied Research in Education; pps. 236-237