Review + Teachers’ Notes: ‘Puffin the Architect’

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Title: Puffin the Architect
Author/Illustrator: Kimberly Andrews
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Themes: animals, homes, animal homes, architecture, professions, STEAM, STEM, design, family

Click on title links or cover image to purchase.

There is so much to love about this picture book by Kimberly Andrews! Not only is ‘Puffin the Architect’ terribly ‘on trend’ with the subtle themes of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Maths) but the artwork is sublime, the narrative is engaging, the profession of architecture is in the spotlight and it depicts a working mother (admittedly a working Puffin mother but #samesame) trying to make it all work for her and not always finding that an easy task.

Puffin is an architect who always exceeds her clients’ expectations. That is, until she takes on the toughest clients ever – her own pufflings!

I really feel for this working mother who is just trying to provide the perfect design for a home to meet the needs of her loved ones. I mean for glory goodness sake, why are children so rarely satisfied I ask you (today has been long in this household!)? Puffin the architect takes her puffling children on some site visits so they can work out what they would all like in a home. The home of Platypus the baker is not right, Otter’s Fishing boat does not float their boat, and Detective Hound’s underground tunnel system and secret places do not intrigue them in this slightest. Poor Puffin is ready to throw up her hands and quit…and frankly I don’t blame her. I only tried to craft with my children today and I also feel like throwing my hands in the air and crying!

For Puffin the Architect, it turns out that the best way to find the perfect solution is really very easy…you just have to slow down and listen in order to understand one another.  What is not to love about this message?

This multi-layered text is one to be read over and over and its illustrations poured over; I suspect this one will become a firm favourite in many households. Budding young designers and builders will admire the intricate illustrations, animal lovers will love the peep inside the homes of some loved animal friends and readers young and old will appreciate the sophistication and interplay of text and images.

Purchase ‘Puffin the Architect’ by clicking on title links or cover images. 

Follow it Up in the Home, Classroom or Library

Teachers’ Notes prepared by teacher Melissa Kroeger for Children’s Books Daily in context with the Australian Curriculum.

These notes are designed to be used in the home environment to extend a shared book reading experience with discussion and some ideas for follow up activities. They can also be used in educational environments where in depth study of text is undertaken.

Title: Puffin the Architect
Author/Illustrator: Kimberly Andrews


  • Design and Technologies; English


  • Sustainability; Asia and Australia’s engagement with Australia


  • Literacy



  1. Show the front cover to the students and read the title. There are two key elements to discuss here:
  • What is a Puffin? and
  • What is an Architect?

2. Look at the illustrations to try to work these out. Ask questions of why do you think so, what makes you think that etc.

3. Check out some awesome information on puffins here.

4. Check out some great facts about architects here.

5. Have a read of the beautiful book ‘Puffling’ – full review here.

In a nutshell, even though puffins look like penguins, they are not. They live in the North Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans, predominately the eastern coast of Canada, Northern United States, western coast of Europe and northern Russia. Puffins can fly really fast and are great swimmers too, which they use to their advantage when hunting for fish to eat. There are two different types of puffins.

Architects are people who design buildings by drawing with pencil and paper or using a computer. They need to be good at mathematics and drawing and must be able to use their imagination to be able to envisage their design. Sometimes they even make miniature models of their designs. If you want to become an architect, you need to go to University.

6. Discuss the colour of the larger puffin’s beak compared to the beaks of the smaller puffins on the front cover. Why do you think this is?

(During winter MATURE puffin’s beaks turn to dull shades, but during spring, mating season, their beaks become vibrant. This is thought to attract a mate. The younger puffins seen on the front cover here are not mature so their beaks are a dull shade until they reach maturity.)


  • What role do you think the puffins on the front cover play? Are they children, mum, dad, aunty, sister etc? Did you know that baby puffins are called pufflings?
  • Why is the larger puffin holding rolled up paper and drawings?
  • Look at the colours the author/illustrator has used for the sky. Why? What is the weather like? Where do you think they may live?

7. Turn over to the back cover. Read the blurb and discuss:

  • Who do you think her new clients are? Could it be the younger pufflings?
  • Why are the pufflings standing back to back with their beaks in the air?
  • What is their body language telling you?
  • Why do you think they would be hard to please?
  • The blurb is written on a card of some sort. What could it be?
  • Point out the set square and discuss what it could be used for (drawing lines at different degrees)
  • What do you think would make the ‘perfect puffin home’?


Content Description: ACTDEK010 Recognise the role of people in design and technologies occupations and explore factors, including sustainability that impact on the design of products, services and environments to meet community needs.


  • exploring, playing with and testing materials for their appropriateness, for example materials for a new sun-shade product
  • examining the suitability of a service or everyday system and proposing improvements, for example a water saving system for a bathroom at home
  • investigating materials, components, tools and equipment, including by using digital technologies, to discover their characteristics and properties, how they can be used more sustainably and their impact in the future
  • considering the impact of environments on users, for example a school vegetable garden, a protected outdoor play area
  • exploring and testing factors that impact on design decisions, for example considering the demographics of an area or the impact of natural disasters on design of constructed environments such as the structural design of buildings in Japan to withstand earthquakes
  • critiquing designed products, services and environments to establish the factors that influence the design and use of common technologies, for example the characteristics that contribute to energy-efficient cooking such as wok cooking; the suitability and sustainable use of particular timbers
  1. On pop sticks write the following questions and place them in a jar:
  • where the home is situated?
  • how and why is the home purposeful to the animal that owns it?
  • is it environmentally friendly?
  • how could it be more environmentally friendly?
  • would it be physically possible to make it?
  • could better materials be used to make it?
  • how could you make it better?
  • what kinds of tools would you need to make it?

2. Read the book. You may choose to read it with no discussion the first time, just enjoying the text and observing the illustrations. Then on the second time around you may like to look at each double page with a design and technology focus or just choose a few double pages and spotlight on them.

3. Open onto a double page and ask a student to pull a pop stick out of the jar and read out their question. Then discuss that question with the class asking for possible answers. Continue until all pop sticks are used and discuss any further questions it may have prompted. Repeat for as many double pages as you like. You could make a display at this point by photocopying in colour (depending on copyright) some of the double pages and have the questions and answers on colourful pieces of card (these could be ‘Project Cards’ by ‘your class’s company name’ (eg: 4B Design, 3G Architects) around it. You may use red wool to be pinned to the particular part of the illustration and pulled tight to another pin where the question and answer is written on the card; this way the illustration is not hidden by the questions and answers. This would help for further reference for when students work independently to create their own.

4. Discuss natural disasters such as earthquakes and how that would impact upon designing a structure in a country like Japan. Research this further. Check out this amazing information on Japan’s earthquake resistant buildings.

5. Keeping these questions and new information in mind, have the students as a whole class design a house for a creature – maybe they would like to vote what creature it could be for. Together, draw it on the whiteboard or a large piece of paper, using arrows or red wool with explanatory text (on card if you choose) to highlight reasons for design. Make sure all of the pop stick questions are answered.

6. Ask the students to design their own home for themselves or a creature. It must cover all of the pop stick questions. They could draw this on a piece of card or paper.

7. Extend further, have students design it as a 3D model, clearly labelling materials that would be used and why it was designed and made that way, displaying the answers to pop stick questions.


Content Description: ACELA1439 Recognise and generate rhyming words, alliteration patterns, syllables and sounds (phonemes) in spoken words


  • recognising and producing rhyming words when listening to rhyming stories or rhymes, for example ’funny’ and ’money’
  • identifying patterns of alliteration in spoken words, for example ‘helpful Henry’
  • identifying syllables in spoken words, for example clapping the rhythm of ‘Mon-day’, ‘Ja-cob’ or ‘Si-en-na’
  1. Do the Pre-reading activity as above. You may choose not to go as in depth with the information on architects or puffins.

2. Discuss what syllables are and demonstrate clapping them out. Clap out student’s names broken down into syllables ‘Em-i-ly’, ‘Da-vid’ etc.

3. Ask students to raise their hand if they would like to class to clap out their name in syllables; have the teacher clap it first then the class repeats it. When the students seem to understand the concept have them clap out their own names in syllables. Find some words in the text to clap out in syllables too.

4. Discuss rhyming words. Brainstorm words that rhyme eg: what rhymes with cat? What rhymes with tree? What rhymes with chair? Turn to pages 10 and 11 (Pig’s trailer) and read it out to the class, having them listen carefully for any rhyming words. Accentuate the rhyming words whilst reading out aloud to help them along. Ask them to put their hand up when they have heard two words that rhyme with each other. Continue throughout the book having students listen for and identify the rhyming words.

5. Ask students to think of another rhyming word in place of a word within the book. On a small sticky note write their replacement rhyming word and stick it over the word in the book. Eg: rhyming words are ‘scraps’ and ‘naps’, place a sticky note over ‘naps’ with the word ‘caps’. This will make the text silly, but hopefully the humour will help the children come up with rhyming words regardless of whether it makes sense or not. Just let it be a fun activity to help students grasp the concept of rhyme. Re-read the text with the new ‘silly’ rhyming text – enjoy the fun!

6. Finally? Can you find the 19 hidden snails in ‘Puffin the Architect’?

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