Differentiated Penguin Unit

Penguins and adorable arctic creatures fit right into the middle of this chilly month. Thematic units are a great way to help your classroom feel more cohesive. Everyone is working on the same theme but focusing on topics at their level. It’s inclusion at it’s greatest. With my students who are higher functioning we did a variety of penguin themed read alouds, a penguin poem, facts/research, and more. And don’t worry – I have tons of great ways to include your students who are lower functioning too!

IMG_2821With my mid level and high groups we started off researching penguins online with this research worksheet. My higher group did a similar activity last year so I scaffold this to make it even more independent.

When you have students for multiple years, it’s okay to repeat the same activities. Working on making the activity more independent, more challenging, or focus on additional concepts.


We threw in a few penguin books and a penguin poem. I found two awesome freebie penguin games on TpT.

I found this Penguin Fact or Opinion freebie by Mrs. Lindsey. Love this. We really need to work on fact or opinion more. Plus – fact was one of our words on our research worksheet! Then I snagged this Penguin Quiz Card Set. This was exactly what I was looking for. The joys of TpT – no need to reinvent the wheel, right?! We used these to review facts and then we used these questions for the quiz at the end of the unit!



This freebie was a great into and I love using graphic organizers with my kids. Students with autism benefit from structure and visual cues so graphic organizers are a must! Thanks Alice Little for this free worksheet! I used this after we did our researching!




IMG_2928I took advantage of the penguin theme to squeeze in some imaginative writing from our Write About Winter Packet. Imaginative writing I find to be especially tricky for children with autism. Any opportunity we have to practice this skill – I grab on to. They did great with some of these worksheets.







Recently Updated125We did the unit for about 2 weeks (-ish) during morning group. We ended with a quiz reviewing all of our penguin facts. This is a great way to assess comprehension, memory skills, and receptive/expressive language. I made two versions of the quiz. We did a simple 10 question quiz where I read the question aloud and students answered on their paper (using the quiz cards) and then I wrote out a quiz for my kiddo with lower receptive language. Having the questions written out helps him TONS!

All of my students did a SUPER cute craft using the visual directions from my favorite art resource – Art for Children with Autism. On of my students who has a lot of significant behavior problems and is lower functioning completed this on his own! I was floored!



I love who this book breaks each step of the craft down. It’s accessible for all of my students!

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Adorable, right?


Now onto my other students. I found so many (easy!) ways to include them in this penguin theme! They loved it too! I made a bunch of penguin flashcards:


… and we used these as our stimuli for counting!


We used penguins for identifying color, practicing expressive/receptive vocabulary, and the best one – we used penguins to identify body parts on the penguin and features. We worked on identifying the head of the penguin, the foot, the wing etc. This is a benchmark on the ABLLS that I often have a hard time hitting! Perfect! Thanks penguins 🙂


  1. Thanks for the great book suggestion! I already ordered it and can’t wait to use it with my ABA clients! You’re the best!!!

  2. Great to hear!


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