First, I introduce my ocean unit by telling the kids that I came across this help wanted ad for a Marine Biologist.
I act just as serious as can be. It makes the kids laugh! Next, I have them all apply for the job using this application.
printables on TpT for FREE. So feel free to download them!
Finally, I tell them that in order to be marine biologists and study the ocean, we are going to have to dive down deep! So the kids get to make themselves as scuba divers!!!
One of the biggest projects that we did during this unit was an ocean animal research paper. It was an excellent way for the students to practice the expository writing that we learned in Writer's Workshop. Plus, the kids had a blast since they enjoy learning about animals AND they get giddy about post-it notes!
I used my animal post-it note research project unit.
First, I chose 6 different ocean animals that I thought would make interesting reports. I chose based a lot on which books I had available! I put the animal names on the board with the numbers 1-4 under each one. Then I used sticks to call kids randomly. They picked which animal they wanted to research. This gave all but 1 student some choice. And the 1 student understood that it was just the luck of the draw and she didn't care. Next, the groups met for a couple of days to take notes. I encouraged and assisted them in using the glossary, index and table of contents. They wrote their notes on post-it notes and stuck the note over the corresponding box on the research hand-out. After research was complete, they worked independently on the report writing using the pages in the unit for each topic they had to write about. They finished the report by making a table of contents, illustrating and doing a self-reflection (included in the unit). And finally, they got to trade with a different group and read their report. This helped them to learn about another animal! They did a partner evaluation (also included in the unit). In the end, they had wonderful reports and had learned lots about ocean animals, expository writing and the parts of a book! I highly recommend this project and this unit! Check it out here.
After all that hard work, I wanted my kiddos to enjoy a fun (and messy) art project!
I made stencils for each of the 6 animals that the groups had done reports on. They traced the stencil on black construction paper and then cut out the inside- leaving all the edges in tact. Next they were given a piece of foil. They were allowed to choose 2-3 colors and asked to paint stripes across the foil. Before the paint dried, they took a q-tip and removed some paint to make a pattern of their choice. When it was dry the foil was glued under their construction paper and google eyes were added. They look so pretty on the wall outside my classroom with their report right under it!
After we finished this major project- it was time for SHARK WEEK!!! We started by reading a book by my very favorite author, Gail Gibbons. It's called Sharks. After we read the book and discussed it together, we made a big list of facts that we learned about shark teeth! The kids used this list to write an informative paragraph about shark teeth. I used this unit for this project (as well as a few others). It's a fun unit! The kids wrote their paragraph on the shark shaped writing paper and then made the cute shark as the cover. The mouth is made using a small paper plate. The rest was made using the templates from the unit. Didn't they turn out cute?!
See that bag? We just had to make our own shark teeth! I made some salt dough and gave each kid a small piece. They shaped it into a tooth. I let them sit out on my counter for a week on a cookie try and they hardened! I was happy to have to bake them because baking them stinks up the house and sometimes the teeth stick. This worked out perfectly!
I just HAD to hang the sharks and the teeth on a wall! My classroom is starting to feel more like an ocean than a circus! The title of this display is "Oh Sharky, What Sharp, Teeth You Have!" Those teeth letters were included in the ocean writing unit!
I just had to end our discuss about shark teeth by reading the book Never Take a Shark to the Dentist! It's cute and gives everyone a giggle!
Next we moved on to WHALE WEEK! This week happened to fall during standardized testing so I kept it pretty light and fun. I read the Gail Gibbons book, Whales. This time I had them do a narrative writing. They wrote a story about the day they took their pet whale to school. They were pretty silly! Again I used this ocean writing unit. The kids wrote their stories on the whale shaped paper and made the cute whale from construction paper for the cover. Aren't they adorable?! I had to resist the urge to hang them because I was out of wall space! I wish I had a picture, but it slipped my mind. We made it just like the directions call for though so check out her kit.
The next week we learned about crabs and oysters. It was a fun one! I started by reading a couple books about Crabs. One was an informational book that I got at the library. Not sure the title. I also read The Magic School bus Gets Crabby. Once the kids had a pretty good base knowledge of crabs, we talked about the fact that crab is a multiple meaning word and it is sometimes used to talk about someone who is cranky. I read this adorable book called What Are You So Grumpy About? This book is a must-have if you ask me!!! It's funny and my students reference it often! After that we used the template in the ocean writing unit to write about what makes us crabby. We had just finished testing so a few kids said that tests made them crabby! We glued the writing onto the paper crabs that we made from the same unit. Now the writing is called "I am usually a perfect pearl, but sometimes I get crabby." So we talked about oysters and how pearls are made. They cut out an oyster from a folded small paper plate. I had them water color the inside and we glued a pearl in it. Then it was glued on to the crab. It was adorable! But I guess you have to take my word for it. Sorry!
The next animal we learned about was the jellyfish! I read to the kids about jellyfish and they wrote an informational paragraph. Then we made a super simple jellyfish with white tissue paper and white yarn. They turned out pretty cute!
But my very favorite art project that we did was the Sea Horse!!! I made a stencil for the kids. They cut a sea horse out of white construction paper. I used a tin pan and filled it with shaving cream. I added some dots of primary color paint and then swirled it around. The kids dipped the sea horse in the paint. We set them to dry for about 10 minutes and then scraped the shaving cream off. The next day we added some red yarn and some google eyes. They looked marble! It was a hit with all the parents for sure! (Sorry for the bad pictures. Should have brought my camera!!!)
Our ocean unit was a ton of fun! I think these projects would be fun for an end of school year unit!