Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Problem with Penguins

Teaching the boys is proving to be quite a learning experience for myself. For example, geography was by far my worst subject in school. For this reason, I somehow was under the impression that there was some kind of land mass at the North Pole just like the South (what an idiot!) and that nearly all penguins lived at the North and South Poles. (Why I am admitting this to 300-some people is a mystery to me.)

As it turns out, there are a lot more species of penguins than I was aware of and each species is found in pretty specific places ranging from Australia, to New Zealand, South Africa, Antarctica, South America, and the Galapagos Islands. No penguins live in the Arctic at all.

Obviously this is not information I've needed at any point in my life. However, if my little Montessori boys are soon to be sorting miniature animals onto a felt map of the world, I had better get my act together.

So, to the rescue... the Penguins Toob. (The best place to buy Toob animals to date is at Michaels. They are on the shelf for $6.99 and there is a 40-50% off coupon available weekly.) Except that the penguin Toob is rather poorly done. As mentioned in my last post, four of the penguins in the set are improperly painted and don't match any species of penguin that I was able to discover.

One reader requested that I post pictures of my imperfect penguins. I make a photo glossary of all of my Toob animals (so that I can tell the difference between an Elk and a Moose and don't pass my shortcomings on to the boys). I already had one done for the penguins so this is an easy request to meet. I am NOT a professional photographer. I wasn't overly concerned about quality when I took these. My head kept making a shadow.

The good news is that, depending on your browser, you should be able to left-click on this thing and read the labels. I uploaded this full quality to try to help with that. On this particular photo glossary, I not only labelled the penguins but also the continent (abbreviated) and labelled what I needed to repaint to make it work. The photo was taken before I did any repainting. In addition to the errors, there is also the useless inclusion of a "swimming penguin" and a "baby penguin" when "King Penguins" or something would have been more useful.

Because of the angle I took the picture you can't read the "repainting" instructions in full. I am not going to include them here because I suspect that the penguin paint jobs probably vary according to the amount of attention paid by the particular worker in China that handpainted your particular penguin.

The bad news is, I spent ages reading about penguin characteristics and trying to identify some of these penguins. The good news is that standard acrylic paint solved the problem well.

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  1. What a coincidence! I got the Penguin Toob last year, and just let the preschoolers use them as is with some ice and some other activities, but this year, I wanted to match them up with the species cards that I printed from A Bit of This and A Bit of That, and I wanted to be able to show where they all lived, and I looked at them and realized that they weren't very accurate to the actual species. I haven't fixed mine yet, but maybe your little chart will help motivate me! LOL

  2. Thanks for this post! I need to figure out which penguin is which. We ended up randomly placing ones we didn't know. Also, is it too late to participate in the continent exchange? How does it work?

    I have to say I learned more about penguins than I ever did from all this!

    I had the penguins surfing on ice which will be in my new post!

  3. Sorry Min,

    I did the continent exchange through A Bit of This and A Bit of That. She assembled one reader from each continent and we all put a package together for one another. It's been long done :(