Penguin Math Lesson Plan for First Graders

Page content

Getting Started

This penguin math lesson plan will give students the opportunity to practice measuring length while learning about the sizes of different penguins. You will need a few things before you can get started.


  1. List of several different penguin types and their heights.
  2. Pictures of the different penguin types.
  3. Large pieces of bulletin board paper.
  4. Measuring tape or yardsticks.
  5. Index cards or sentence strips.
  6. Pencils, markers, crayons, and scissors.
  7. Math journals.

Penguin Heights

  • Emperor Penguin - 44 inches
  • King Penguin - 37 inches
  • Adelie Penguin - 24 inches
  • Chinstrap Penguin - 24 inches
  • Rockhopper - 18 inches
  • Royal Penguin - 30 inches
  • Fairy Penguin - 16 inches

The Procedure

  1. Gather students and show them the chart of different penguins and their heights. You can also show them the pictures you have of the different penguins. Tell them they are going to be making life-sized penguins.
  2. Divide the class into groups of two or three depending on how many different penguin species you are using. Then assign each group a different type of penguin to measure and draw. Give the students measuring tape or yard sticks, large pieces of chart paper and drawing supplies. Have them measure the heights of their penguins and use their measurements to draw a picture of their penguin on the paper and cut it out. Give each group an index card to write the name of their penguin species and its height on.
  3. When all of the penguins are finished, display them on a wall where students can compare the different heights. Discuss the heights of the penguins. Which are tallest? Shortest? Which penguin type is closest to the height of the students?
  4. When you have finished the discussion, have students write two or three observation about penguin measurements in their math journals. These observations might be comparing the heights of different types of penguins to each other or to other objects. “I am taller than a Fairy penguin but shorter than an Emperor penguin.” “The Chinstrap and Adelie penguins are the same height.” They might also write about the process of measuring their penguins.

Assess and Extend

Observe students while they work with yard sticks and measuring tape. Were they able to measure successfully and accurately? Read through journals and notice their observations. Do they understand how to order and compare different heights?

Have students make a bar graph to show the different heights. Provide them with the approximate weights of different penguins and have them graph those also.

Your first graders will love learning about penguins with this penguin math lesson plan. You can find more ideas for teaching first graders about measurement here.

This post is part of the series: All about Penguins: A First Grade Unit

Penguins are a great winter theme for first graders. Use these lesson plans and ideas to plan a unit that is integrated across all areas of the curriculum.

  1. A Cross Curriculum Unit on Penguins for First Graders
  2. Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester: First Grade Activities
  3. Measuring Penguins: A Math Lesson Plan
  4. Shape Penguins: A First Grade Math and Art Activity