Resource Type
Completion Time
About 1 period
Elementary and Up
Simone Welch
Related Members
4-5 picture cards of puffins
Felt body parts of one puffin
Younger kids: 5-10 pictures of organisms that puffins eat
Older kids: Small cards (one per child or pair) with a picture of an organism that a puffin would eat
Shallow buckets: One per 4-5 kids
Assorted tongs and tweezers
Swedish fish candy
Construction paper
Tissue paper or quilt batting
Glue: One per child or pair
Internet access to download Shared reading “Puffin Patrol” article. See Resources section for address
Life Science
General Life Science

Students will become familiar with the anatomy/physiology, habitat and lifestyle of puffins. On the 2009 Healy Icebreaker expedition the wildlife survey team was primarily interested in bird diversity and population in the Bering Sea. Puffins were spotted during the cruise, especially feeding in and around Dutch Harbor, Alaska.


  • Students will learn about the unique nature of puffin anatomy.
  • Students will be familiar with the diet of this Arctic bird.
  • Students will use tools to imitate food-gathering behavior of the puffin.
  • Students apply what they have learned to recreate the body of the puffin in a science-art project.
  • Students will be able to explain how this little bird is well suited to the Arctic environment.


  • Print and laminate pictures of puffins and puffin food choices.
  • Cut out felt pieces of puffin body.
  • Fill diving buckets with water and "fish".
  • Cut out puffin bodies and parts for art project.


Vocabulary: puffin, crustacean, mollusk, herring, benthic, pelagic

  1. Introduce and define vocabulary.

  2. What's a puffin? Look at pictures of puffins. What kinds of birds are these? Does anybody know anything about these special birds? Who can tell me anything that makes a puffin recognizable? Puffins are unique and recognizable because of several features: brightly colored beaks, counter-shading, orange-red legs.

  3. What are the parts of a puffin? Let's put a puffin together! Construct a felt puffin one body-part at a time on a felt board. Discuss structure and function of each body part.

  4. What do puffins eat? Puffins are diving birds that search for small fish, shellfish and crustaceans to eat. Examine a chart with pictures of various components of the puffin diet- name the animals. Modification for older students: Each child gets a picture of something a puffin would eat. Add it to the correct spot on a chart of the water table. Is this a benthic or pelagic animal? How did you decide?

  5. Can we fish like puffins? Dive like puffins! Puffins can fit up to thirty small fish in their mouth at one time! How many can you pick up? Use Swedish Fish and tweezers/tongs to "dive" for fish in buckets of water.

  6. Make a puffin with construction paper and quilt batting or tissue paper. Include construction paper beaks, stripes, eye, wing, yellow marking and red legs.

  7. Shared reading "Puffin Patrol" article in Time for Kids about children in Heimaey, Iceland who rescue puffin chicks.

Possible snack: Puffins cereal


Shared Reading "Puffin Patrol" article in Time for Kids about children in Heimaey, Iceland who rescue puffin chicks.


Students are able to recreate the anatomy of the puffin and explain the form and function of each.


Simone Welch, sciencesimone [at]


K-4 Content Standard A: Science as Inquiry: a. Abilities b. Understandings Content Standard C: Life Science: a. Characteristics of organisms c. Organisms and environments

Standards Other


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This program is supported by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed by this program are those of the PIs and coordinating team, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.