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How to Make a Penguin Habitat

Updated November 21, 2016

Seventeen species of penguins dwell in the Southern Hemisphere in Australia, Africa, South America, New Zealand and Antarctica. When studying the species of penguins, many teachers assign the re-creation of penguin habitats to their students. A diorama is a common method of habitat construction and including ice-packed terrain and a water source needed for penguin survival contributes to a successful project.

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  1. Cut a two-inch hole in one short end of a common shoebox to create a viewing hole. The hole is used to look into the diorama without disrupting the contents of the habitat project.

  2. Paint the four interior sides of a common shoebox to appear as the sky over a penguin habitat using light blue paint and a paintbrush. Set the box aside to dry.

  3. Cut a 4-inch square hole in the centre of the shoebox lid, turn it over and glue a 5-inch by 5-inch piece of waxed paper over the hole. Allow the glue to dry. The waxed paper window allows light to illuminate the habitat.

  4. Trim a piece of metallic blue paper to fit on the inside bottom of the shoebox. Glue it in place and smooth the paper from the centre toward the sides to rid the paper of any air bubbles.

  5. Cover your work surface with newspaper and with a wooden craft stick carve a block of white styrofoam into a cone shape. Another option is to ask an adult to assist in the carving and use a sharp knife.

  6. Spray faux canned snow over the styrofoam cone shape and allow the snow to dry a bit before gluing the cone to the bottom of the shoebox. Penguins commonly live in arctic island habitats to keep from being attacked by land predators.

  7. Form a three-dimensional egg shape that is approximately two inches tall and one inch wide with white modelling clay as the basis for a clay penguin. Overlap a piece of flat black modelling clay on one side of the egg as the black back section of the penguin and mould two flippers, one on each side. Create a beak with the orange clay as well as two webbed feet and attach them to the penguin base. Allow the clay to dry overnight and insert the penguin into its created habitat. Add more clay penguins if the time allows.

  8. Place the shoebox lid back onto the bottom section and peer through the side hole to see the penguins in their re-created habitat.

  9. Tip

    Consider floating the styrofoam cone, covered in faux snow spray, in a bucket of blue-tinted water for a more true-to-life habitat.

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Things You'll Need

  • Shoebox
  • Scissors
  • Light blue paint
  • Paint brush
  • Waxed paper
  • Glue
  • Metallic blue paper
  • Newspaper
  • White styrofoam block
  • Wooden craft stick
  • Spray snow
  • White, black and orange modelling clay

About the Author

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