School study units on penguins typically include segments about penguin habitats. Students often are assigned to design and build a replica of a specific variety of penguin's habitat. These projects usually include the actual habitat itself, along with accompanying fact sheets or booklets describing key aspects of the penguin's life, habits and environment.
One of the most common ways for children to make a penguin habitat is with a diorama. Use shoe boxes or pizza boxes as the base of your diorama. Decorate the inside of the box to represent the stark Antarctic environment that is home to most penguins. Use craft paints or markers to colour in water on the "floor" of the box and ice or icebergs in the background. Crumple white paper or cotton balls to make the icy surface. Add small penguin figures made from cardboard or purchased at a toy store or aquarium on top of the ice.
Habitats in Plastic Storage Bins
Shoe-box size or slightly larger plastic storage bins can contain and transport penguin habitat projects. Stand the plastic bin on one of the long sides. Glue or tape blue construction paper, felt or craft foam to the inside bottom to represent the water. Cut out mountains and icebergs from white foam or paper; glue them to the inside of the box as part of the distant horizon. White tissue paper or wrapping paper can form ice floes when slightly crumpled and glued into the floor of the display. Buy small toy penguins or colour your own cardboard versions to place on the ice floe.
Making posters of the penguin's habitat gives the students room to both draw the actual habitat and write in relevant facts about the penguin and its environment. Ask the students to draw the habitat at the centre of the poster board. Give them a list of required elements to include in their drawing. Use the outer area around the drawing to write facts and labels about the species of penguin chosen and its environment.
Tabletop Habitat Displays
Assign students to work in groups of three or four people to research and create a realistic Antarctic penguin habitat on a tabletop. Working on the larger surface offers the flexibility to use a wider variety of natural materials--for example, the students may use a shallow basin of water for the Antarctic Ocean. Build ice floes, cliffs or other rugged landmasses from styrofoam or modelling clay and attach to a thin plywood or sturdy cardboard base on the table. Use small pieces of grass and twigs to represent natural flora found in the penguin's habitat. Complete your project with realistic clay figures of the specific variety of penguin you are studying; add these to your display.