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Crafts And Conversation: Cotton Ball Penguin With The DUCK Lab

Get crafty with the DUCK Lab! Each Friday, trained research assistants from the UNCG Psychology Department’s DUCK Lab will guide at-home crafts for children ages 3 to 12. Parents can join too to learn fun facts about crafts that foster age-appropriate skills or learn about the DUCK Lab’s nonprofit child development research projects. We will also be at LeBauer Park on Saturday with some to-go craft bags to make crafts at home!

This Friday, the DUCK Lab and the Greensboro Science Center invite all preschool- and elementary-age friends to join Jess and make a cotton ball penguin! Follow along as Jess takes you through each step and chats about African Penguins, including what we can do to keep them safe. Make sure to visit the Greensboro Science center to see their resident African Penguins or scroll below to see them on video!

Parents, did you know?

This craft offers an opportunity to chat with children about the importance of protecting endangered species, such as the African Penguin. Read on below for more info. about the connection between these types of activities and age-appropriate developmental milestones.

We also invite you to check out our child development research opportunities, which are now modified for the virtual world! Please click here to learn more or sign up to participate with us.

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:


  • Cotton balls

  • Construction paper (black, white, orange, and any color of your choosing for the background)

  • Scissors

  • Glue (stick, dots, or liquid)

  • Googly eyes or buttons


  1. Cut one wide circle out of white construction paper for the penguin’s body.

  2. Cut a medium circle out of black construction paper for the penguin’s head, along with two half circles for the wings.

  3. Cut a triangular beak and two feet out of orange construction paper.

  4. Glue all body parts (body, head, wings, feet) to a sheet of construction paper.

  5. Use glue to stick cotton balls onto the penguin’s body and head.

  6. Paste the beak on the penguin’s head. Then, paste two googly eyes (or buttons) to the penguin’s head.

The DUCK Lab: Cotton Ball Penguin

Relation to Developmental Science:

Families are welcome to stop by the Greensboro Science Center to visit some African Penguins. They are usually found in Southwestern Africa and are currently endangered due to commercial fishing, oil spills, and climate change. Parents can use this craft activity to chat with their children about conservation and what it means to protect African Penguins, along with other endangered species. For example, parents can discuss with children the implications of oil spills: they damage animal habitats and threaten the well-being of nearby animals by harming their bodies and food sources. Parents can also talk with their children about how both individuals and communities can help endangered species and our planet. In fact, families can visit the Greensboro Science Center to learn more about their conservation efforts, including fundraising opportunities and community awareness programs. To learn more about African Penguins or the Greensboro Science Center’s conservation efforts, please visit their website!

*Great for kids of all ages!

Make sure to check out this clip from the African Penguins at the Greensboro Science Center!

The DUCK Lab is a partner in the nonprofit Child Development Research Center in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. They conduct studies of social and cognitive development with 2- to 12- year-olds. Families who participate in their research studies are volunteers in the Greensboro community who generously offer their time to help support research and training opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.

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