How to Make a Giant Cardboard Penguin

Updated July 18, 2017

From "Mr. Popper's Penguins" to "March of the Penguins," penguins have been capturing the spotlight in books and movies for years. Capturing the spotlight as a pet is a little harder, however, as it takes a huge amount of resources to create a penguin habitat. Luckily for the average penguin lover, some cardboard and other craft supplies can help you make your very own flightless bird, minus the freezing pool and sardine lunches.

Draw the outline of a penguin on a large piece of cardboard. Either draw the body shape freehand using a picture or print out a picture and project the silhouette onto the cardboard using an overhead projector, flashlight or lamp. Be sure to include a beak sticking out from the side of the face that matches the scale of the rest of the silhouette.

Cut the cardboard silhouette out using a sharp utility knife.

Paint the body and neck of the penguin white and wait five to ten minutes for the paint to dry. Add a second coat of paint if necessary; the need for this will depend on the thickness of the paint and the colour of the cardboard. Wait five to ten minutes for it to dry.

Paint the feet, arms and face, excluding the beak, black and wait five to ten minutes for the paint to dry.

Paint the beak and neck ruff (the feathers at the front of the penguin's neck) yellow and wait five to ten minutes for the paint to dry.

Glue the googly eye onto the head about one quarter of the face width from the beak.


Create a prop so that the penguin is freestanding by cutting a large triangle from the cardboard and bending it in half. Glue one side to the back of the penguin, making sure the bottom edge is flush with the floor. For easy cleanup, work over a plastic sheet or concrete surface.

Things You'll Need

  • Large piece of cardboard
  • Overhead projector, flashlight or lamp
  • Pencil
  • Utility knife
  • Three paintbrushes or paint pads
  • White tempera paint
  • Black tempera paint
  • Yellow tempera paint
  • Googly eye
  • Glue
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About the Author

Aube Ergine began writing professionally for Demand Media in 2010 and has experience with grant writing, activity and event planning, and lesson planning. She has worked with children and youth for 15 years in schools and recreational settings.