With summer fast approaching, many students will soon be off to visit the ocean. If you didn’t already kick off an ocean unit during Shark Week, you are in plenty of time for World Ocean Day on June 8. The ecosystems and environmental issues alone will enthrall your students as they learn about sharks, corals, and tides.
I’ve selected some picture books, activities, and visuals for you to use in the classroom as you study the watery deep. I think your kids will especially enjoy the jellyfish art activity. And you can find more ideas and lesson plans in Scholastic’s Oceans collection.
Have fun and feel free to let me know what favorite ocean resources you use in your classroom.
Written by Melvin and Gilda Berger
Published by Scholastic
Are you looking for a good nonfiction series to kick off a writing unit? Well, you're going to really enjoy the Now I Know books. This title has large colorful photos, simple text, close ups and "Did you know?" facts. The glossary in the back is a nice example to introduce to students.
Be sure to print out copies of my ocean creatures to help spruce up your classroom as you launch your ocean unit:
Written and Illustrated by Edward Gibbs
Published by Templar Books
If your students are anything like mine, your I Spy books are falling apart from constant use. Kids just love to find things or solve a mystery. I Spy Under the Sea uses clues and diecut pages to prompt children to look at a small piece of an illustration and guess what it is. Seahorses, crabs, and clownfish are just a few of the ocean creatures they'll discover in this book.
Written and Illustrated by Robyn Belton
Published by Candlewick Press
One of the nice things about Herbert is that the end papers display a collection of primary source materials that can easily be Xeroxed and shared with students. The book itself tells the story of a small dog from New Zealand who falls overboard but is rescued some thirty hours later. The simple tale and sweet illustrations give it somewhat of an Old Yeller or The Yearling feeling.
Written and Illustrated by Thomas Docherty
Published by Templar Books
To the Beach tells the story of a boy who packs up for the beach and then imagines the different modes of transportation he’ll need to get there. It’s a similar flavor to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and would work well in a transportation unit as well as an ocean unit. The double spread illustrations are great examples to share with students. Be sure to try my To the Beach Skills Sheet.
Written by Jennifer Berne
Illustrated by Eric Puybaret
Published by Chronicle Books
This informative picture book tells the story of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, as he grows up in France and becomes fascinated with both the ocean and film. Eventually his films are viewed on movie screens and theaters and he begins to work as an environmentalist, promoting the health and well-being of the world’s oceans. This is a great nonfiction title to add to your biography or ocean collection. Oh, and be sure to read the informative author’s notes at the end of the book and my Manfish Extension Activity Sheet.
To kick off an ocean study, why not integrate some math and create patterned jellyfish?
For this activity you’ll need paper plates, watered down white glue, paint brushes, pencils, colored tissue paper, pipe cleaners, and Mod Podge (an all-in-one glue and sealer). To prepare, cut 1/3 off the plates, cut strips of tissue paper and pour glue into cups.
After looking at some photos of jelly fish, talk about the patterns some of them have, paying particular attention to the stripes or spots found on some. Students can decide what kind of pattern they’d like their jellyfish to have and draw it on both sides of their paper plate jellyfish.
After they have chosen two colors of tissue paper, they should tear the stripes or spots and place them on one side of the plate. (They can do the other side once the glue has dried.) Once they have laid out the tissue paper and are satisfied with their pattern, they should use the paint brush to apply the watered down glue, being sure to cover the tissue paper thoroughly.
Once the plate has dried, repeat the process on the opposite side. You can add the Mod Podge once both sides have dried. (Be sure to use in a well-ventilated area. I suggest you do this and not the students.)
For tentacles, attach strips of tissue paper and pipe cleaners to the flat edge of the plate. Attach a string to the plate if you want to hang them from the ceiling or staple them to a bulletin board display.