We have had a blast these past two weeks learning all about the ocean and the different creatures who live there! It tied in nicely while we rowed Yellow Ball and My Blue Boat. We used our Ocean Life box from Green Craft Kids and a Lit Kit about Fish from the library as our main resources.
Our Green Craft Kids STEM box was filled with awesome activities that M loved!
Fishing and Bycatch
To start, we went fishing as M learned about bycatch, which is when fish or other marine species are unintentionally caught by fisherman. I explained how important it is that we (as fisherman) try to prevent this and if we do catch something unintentionally we should throw it back immediately.
The actual box became our ocean and we used the felt pieces to cut out a variety of different creatures (a few fish, octopus, shark, whale, turtle). It included the materials needed to create a fishing pole that would attach to the felt. Once everything was set up, M went fishing. She didn’t love the idea of throwing them back in, so instead we made two piles of everything she caught – one of good things (fish) and one of bad things that should go back (everything else). This was definitely our biggest hit of the unit and M has played with this multiple times over the past two weeks. She even had fun teaching J how to go fishing!
We made our very own jellyfish and set them off swimming in the bathtub! M loves glow sticks so she was super excited to see we would be using them. Using glow sticks, some water and plastic bags, we created two jellyfish. Then we filled the bathtub with some water and let them swim. She liked watching them float around, I wasn’t overly impressed with their swimming but thought the actual jellyfish were one of the better versions I have seen.
Ocean in a Bottle
Using the materials provided, M created an “ocean in a bottle” that could be played with over and over again. She loved watching the color tab turn the water and oil in the bottle blue and putting the fish (small water balloons) and shells into the bottle. I made sure the cap was on really tight and then she went to town shaking up the ocean and watching how it would settle. Even J loved playing with this one too.
I was hoping this would last longer though. After a few days, everything in the bottle started to look a little gross so unfortunately it had to “disappear” one afternoon.
Coral Reef Painting
This was M’s second favorite activity behind fishing. My guess is because it was messy and she got to blow bubbles with a straw, which is a normally never allowed in our house. There were three containers of paint and I added water to each of them to turn them into a watercolor type paint. Then M went to town blowing air into the paint with a straw, creating huge bubbles of paint on the plastic surface. She then took a white card and pressed it down on top of the bubbles, creating a “coral reef” image. I really liked the creativity of this activity, although I probably added too much water to the paint because they came out really pale.
Since we didn’t need four similar coral reef painting in the house, we decided to mail three of them to family members. The white cards were the perfect size to turn into postcards. M dictated to me what she wanted each postcard to say and who we should send them too. She then stamped them and dropped them off in our mailbox.
As usual, we did a lot of reading about the ocean. There are so many wonderful books out there on this topic. M and J both loved The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister, a classic I remember fondly from my own childhood. After we read it, M made her very own rainbow fish with glue and tissue paper. As she worked on her fish, we talked about how the Rainbow Fish gave away his shiny scales and how God gives each of us unique gifts that we should share with those around us. M really liked hearing how God made her specifically special.
To make her rainbow fish, I printed out an outline of an angel fish and then traced the fish on the back side of the paper also. Then M covered the fish in glue and stuck on ripped up tissue paper in different colors. By the time she was done, you couldn’t see the fish anymore but once it dried, I used the outline on the back side to cut it out. What she was left with was a beautiful rainbow fish of her own. She was pretty content with the fish but if you wanted to take it a step further, you could add some glitter glue to certain areas to mimic that shiny scales or glue your fish onto some blue construction paper to be swimming in the ocean.
Some our our other favorite books were:
- Hooray for Fish by Cousins
- Fidgety Fish and Friends by Bright
- Secret Seahorse by Blackstone
- Swimmy by Lionni
- in the swim by Florian (This was an especially great book for introducing different types of sea creatures, not just typical ones – for example: piranhas, eels, seahorses, catfish, oysters, flying fish and anglerfish)
Something new I included in our unit was a related DVD. We watched the Eyewitness DVD – FISH.
A lot of the content went way over M’s head but both her and J were transfixed on the screen the entire time. I liked that they were getting to see actual footage of fish and other creatures, instead of just the illustrations in our books. J spent the entire time pointing to the screen saying “ish!, ish!” and M kept going “whoa, mom look at THAT!” so I would consider it a success.
To top off our ocean learning, the hubs took the two kids to the aquarium which was a great afternoon all around. The kids loved getting to spend special time with daddy and I loved that the hubs was involved in some of our learning!
We could study the ocean for months since there are so many amazing things to do and different creatures to learn about. I’m sure this topic will come up again in the future. Have you worked Ocean Life into learning with your little ones? It’s a great subject for any age!