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Happy Feet Two

Guide for Educators



This comprehensive set of nine activities is centered on the award-winning film, “Happy Feet Two”.  Popular characters like Mumble and Erik are used to inspire students to become concerned about human impacts on Antarctic marine ecosystems and the remarkable species that inhabit them.   Just as the voices of actors like Elijah Wood and Sofia Vergara bring life to the on screen characters of the movie, this resource will engage students in dynamic learning through a series of fun activities in which they will:

  • Discover the unique characteristics of birds.
  • Examine animal adaptations in relation to environment.
  • Define and understand the role of organisms in Antarctic marine food webs.
  • Identify negative human impacts on Antarctica.
  • Reflect and describe personal thoughts about the film.
  • Identify personal actions that support sustainability and reduce energy consumption.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Conducting research.
  • Applying knowledge.
  • Responding to media,
  • Analyzing threats to ecosystems.
  • Communication


  • Using the film "Happy Feet Two" provides an appealing framework for the activities.
  • Focuses on an area of the world that is just as important yet relatively unfamiliar compared to the Arctic.
  • Encourages conservation through personal action.


  • The action project activity does not include any background information for the teacher.
  • There are no assessment tools included with the resource.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

This resource can be used to support learning about the characteristics of living things, ecosystems and adaptations.  The activities also reinforce Social Studies outcomes related to world issues, exploration and sustainability.  There is a strong English Language Arts component in which students reflect and communicate through writing.

The final activity “What You Can Do to Help” provides the framework for a classroom action project that focuses on energy conservation.  A class could campaign to reduce the school heating temperature by 1-2 degrees and chart how much energy is conserved.   Students could also write letters to establish a “no idle” zone at the school or work with a local power company to organize a community event where residents learn about energy conservation at home.

An interesting aspect of this unit is the use of an animated film to provide information about Antarctica.   A compare and contrast project that blends English Language Arts and Science outcomes could have students examine a documentary feature such as “March of the Penguins” relative to “Happy Feet Two”.    The class could discuss how aspects like storyline and character are used to capture audience attention about environmental issues facing this unspoiled wilderness.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (1)

    • Climate Change
  • Citizenship (1)

    • General Guide to Taking Action
  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Biodiversity
    • Interdependence
  • Water (1)

    • Marine Environments

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

Self expression through writing and dialogue is a key component of this unit and students are able to make connections between personal choices and environmental sustainability.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

Students learn about predator-prey relationships to develop an understanding of interdependence in biological systems.  This supports deeper thinking about the fragility of the Antarctic marine environment and potential human impacts on this sensitive ecosystem. 

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

Global concerns surrounding Antarctica are complicated by politics and limited research.   However, most scientists are in agreement that ocean warming is s the key factor affecting Antarctic marine species.  This resource focuses on the issue of climate change from the perspective of individual action making the content relevant to students’ lives.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good

A class is encouraged to implement and measure the collective impact of personal conservation strategies like unplugging electronic devices that are infrequently used.  This approach demonstrates that individual change can lead to sustainable communities which support large global conservation initiatives.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

A key strength of this resource is that students are able to express and define their own thoughts about conservation and significant environmental issues like rising sea levels.  The characters in the film are also highly relatable and encourage action like reducing plastic waste which can end up in oceans.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered
Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Satisfactory

Although there is not an outdoor experience included in this resource there are many links to videos and information about penguins.  The subject matter in combination with the appeal of the “Happy Feet Two” movie will actively engage students in caring about these animals and their habitat.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Satisfactory

The subject matter is distant and remote but there is a strong link between local conservation initiatives and reduced global impacts on greenhouse gas emissions.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

The film and this resource both present a positive vision for the future which is important in encouraging a conservation ethic in students as they recognize they can make a difference.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

Although the activities are structured there are many opportunities for self expression and autonomous learning.  This means students are able to analyze and interpret information using strategies such as peer to peer dialogue

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Good

The resource provides scientific information about Antarctic ecosystems and animal adaptations.  Social Studies concepts related to globes and maps are included in the “What I Know About Antarctica” lesson.  English Language Arts outcomes for writing and responding to media are also an important feature of the resource.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Satisfactory

Students are able to use reasoning skills to synthesize and apply information to describe concepts related to sustainability and global citizenship.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Satisfactory

Each activity suggests modifications for younger and older students which could also be used for differentiation strategies since they are connected to the main lesson.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

In the “Feet Are Neat” activity students create models of different bird feet.  A teacher could add to this experience by taking a class outside to view birds in natural habitats where they can make connections between adaptations like beak shape and environment.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory

Most of the activities involve individual and small group work.  However active listening to other opinions are a key component of discussions surrounding personal views about conservation.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Poor/Not considered

There are limited assessment tools consisting of written responses to some questions.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Poor/Not considered
Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Satisfactory

The animated film is used to motivate students to learn more about the fascinating organisms that inhabit Antarctica.  This ensures that the content is pertinent and meaningful given that the area is so distant and remote.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Satisfactory

Included with each activity are options for enhancing the learning experience for younger and older students.  This information supports expanded investigations where students explore topics such as energy conservation from a personal perspective.

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.