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Make Way for Ducklings {Free Video & Activities}

Make Way for Ducklings {Free Video & Activities}

Make Way for Ducklings {Free Video & Activities}

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey is another beloved children’s book, a time-honored classic by the author of Blueberries for Sal and A Time of Wonder, and another in the free Weston Woods Caldecott Literature Series videos.

Winner of the 1942 Caldecott Medal, Make Way for Ducklings tells the tale of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard who are looking for a suitable place to raise a family.  They finally settle on Boston.  But a large city like Boston can present certain challenges for a family of mallards.  And the mallards prove to present certain challenges for the city of Boston!

These videos from PBS are part of their Caldecott Literature series, featuring the entire book shown cover-to-cover and narrated.  This is a free way to enjoy the book or a nice second read for those who have it on the shelf.

Free Video

We are suggesting a variety of activities that can be enjoyed from the smallest child to your older student.  As always, pick and choose what suits your family!  You’ll find helpful resources below.

  • Why would a duck prefer to avoid living close to foxes in woods or turtles in water?  Learn more about mallards and their predators.
  • Locate Massachusetts on a map.  Then mark Boston.  (You’ll find mapping resources below).
  • The ducks decided to land in Boston’s Public Garden.  Take a virtual visit!  (Links below).
  • A Make Way for Ducklings sculpture is one of the top ten Boston attractions.  View the sculpture.
  • The ducks fished for their breakfast at the bottom of the pond.  What were they looking for?
  • Why did the “big bird” not answer Mr. Mallard?  Learn about the history of the swan boats.
  • Learn why it isn’t really a good idea to feed ducks peanuts.
  • If you have the book, you’ll notice that frequently McCloskey uses a page break (a sentence that is finished on the next page) to encourage suspense.

    “Good,” said Mr. Mallard, delighted that at last Mrs. Mallard had found a place that suited her. But —

    Use this foreshadowing to ask your child what he thinks might happen next before you turn the page.

  • On a map of Boston (see below), locate Public Garden.  Add Beacon Hill and the State House.  Include Louisburg Square, and locate the Charles River.
  • Learn more about molting and the life cycle of the mallard.
  • Learn more about a mallard’s nest.
  • How many ducks did Mrs. Mallard count?  Find the same number of another object.
  • What would Mr. and Mrs. Mallard have named their ducks if they had had more than eight?  See how many other names you can find in the -ack family.
  • What do you suppose would have happened if the first duck had been named Jump?  Using the -ump word family, name the other seven ducks.
  • Mrs. Mallard taught her ducks to swim and to dive.  Swim and dive are verbs — words that show action.  Think of three things you have learned how to do.  (Jump, run, walk, etc.)
  • The cars were saying HONK! and the ducks were saying QUACK!  Honk and quack are examples of onomatopoeia, or words that make the sound they describe.  Other examples would be buzz or plop.  Write down five other examples of onomatopoeia.
  • Do you notice the suspension bridge near the island?  Here are a few more pictures of the Boston Public Garden suspension bridge.
  • Draw a picture of a duck.  (You’ll find helps below.)  If you like, include the ducklings in your picture.
  • Narrate the story.
  • Create an author’s page in your literature notebook for Robert McCloskey.
  • Add Make Way for Ducklings to your Caldecott winners notebook.
  • Illustrate your favorite scene from the book.

Additional Resources

Boston Public Garden Make Way for Ducklings
Aerial map showing the island and the sculpture.  You can also see the close-up.

Robert McCloskey Biography
Very interesting biography, especially for young people, from Greater Dayton Public Television.


Free Rhyming Tool
Use this tool to find names for ducks in the -ack family.  Just enter Jack, choose End Rhymes, and hit the Rhyme button.  You can also use the tool to have your child decide on a name for a duck and see what other ducks in the family might be named.

Make Way for Ducklings Sequence
Put the events of the book in the correct order to reveal the picture beneath.

Draw a Duck
Simple step-by-step illustration from What to Draw and How to Draw It.  Or try this other option from Drawing Made Easy.

Duck Mask
Printable from

Duck Paper Plate Craft
Simple craft at

Make Way for Ducklings {Free Video & Activities}

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
The oversized paperback  for those interested (our favorite version).  Also available in hardback and on Kindle.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Make Way for Ducklings
Lesson plan from New Hampshire Public Television that goes with the video covering families, large cities, mapping, drawing, storytelling, and exploring the meaning of home.

Just Hatched
Great 39-page download from the British Columbia Waterfowl Society that acquaints young ones with baby ducks and their needs.  Filled with facts, games, and activities about waterfowl, a life cycle printout, recommended resources, and a shape poem template that can be used to create Mrs. Mallard and each of her ducklings, printing their names on the template.

Make Way for Ducklings: A Bird’s Eye View of Geography
Great lesson plan from the Digital Geography Lab at Salem State University in Massachusetts that uses the book as a jumping-off point to learn about geography — seeing like a duck, making maps, finding a scale, and more!

Duckling Parade
Crayola lesson plan where students make a diorama based on the book.

Peanut Unit {Free}

Peanut Unit {Free}
A fun rabbit trail for those interested.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Massachusetts State Map
For locating Boston.

Boston Map
Map for locating some of the landmarks mentioned in the book.  You may need to zoom out for perspective and labels.

Route to the Garden
Map for notebooking showing the route Mrs. Mallard and the ducklings took from the Charles River to Public Garden.

Male and female for notebook.

Author Notebooking Pages {Free Download}

Author Notebooking Pages
Simple pages that include room for copywork, narrations, an illustration and dates of birth/death of the author, and books by the author.

Drawing & Writing Notebooking Paper {Free Download}
For narrations, copywork, and illustrating and describing your favorite scene from the book.

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