Creatures of the Sea
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
The oceans are home to some of the most amazing creatures on our planet. Children are fascinated by the animals that call the ocean their home, especially whales, sharks, manatees, seals, and sea turtles. Our science curriculum has a unit on oceans that includes lessons on sea creatures. Teaching about the ocean is a bit challenging when you live in the Midwest! Here are some Internet resources that are very helpful in planning an ocean unit.
The SeaWorld/Busch Gardens: Animal Information Database is an information-packed site on sea creatures. Click on Animal Info to find data such as common name, family, size, weight, diet, and fun facts for many ocean creatures. I use this animal information database with my students to discover information about an ocean creature of each student's choice in a lesson that combines language arts, science, and research skills. SeaWorld/Busch Gardens also has lots of Teacher Guides about various animals, including seals, sea lions, and walruses.
Your kids can view ocean life via the KelpCam, which records ocean life in the Kelp Forest Exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. The photo is updated every three minutes, so watch closely to see sea urchins, garibaldis, anchovies, bronze kelp perch, and wolf-eels. A link allows your class to see the time-lapse animation of the previous day's action. We put the Monterey Bay Aquarium KelpCam page up on the TV monitor in our classroom so we can — virtually — visit the ocean and view ocean life in the kelp forest.
Treasures @ Sea, sponsored by The Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, is a wonderful teacher resource for your ocean unit. It focuses on integrating the study of oceans with literature, art, and writing, and recommends books to use as read-alouds or as guided reading texts with your class. Additional Web resources are listed, too. For kids, there are games and puzzles, writing activities, and ocean art at this site.
The Fish FAQ, presented by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, is a great place to obtain answers to students' many questions about ocean animals, such as "How long can sea turtles stay underwater?" or "Do fish sleep?" You can also use the questions to challenge students to do a bit of research to figure out the answers themselves.
Looking for background? Neptune's Web, sponsored by the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, offers Ocean Quest, an encyclopedia of oceanography. Its Ocean Trivia area contains facts ranging from which ocean is the deepest to what is the largest marine fish. Check out the resources about ocean life and oceanography at the Teacher's Realm.
The World Wildlife Federation designated 1998 the Year of the Ocean and created a Web site that focuses on the effects of fishing. The site explains the effects of over-fishing on habitats and the decline of biodiversity in our oceans.
— Mary Kreul