Sunday, August 29, 2010

Oceans of Fun and a Pirate Adventure or Two!

We just finished our Ocean Adventure unit and it was a blast! I haven't done this unit in a couple of years, so I visited Pre-K Pages and The Virtual Vine and borrowed some ideas to go along with what I already had. The crafts will not go in the student portfolios, but the experiences this week were more about becoming familiar with some of the mediums and materials so the friends will be comfortable using and creating with them on their own later. Our walls are still pretty bare, so we used the group projects to make a little display and to decorate our F.I.S.H. bulletin board.

We made cute little Orcas out of dessert paper plates. The children traced a shape on the bottom of the plate and drew a mouth, then painted the rest black. (This was a challenge, since many want to swipe once and be done. I wanted them to cover most of the plate with black, just to get the painting practice.....process, not product.) After the paint dried, we added googly eyes and fins.

We made jellyfish by painting waxpaper with colored glue (white glue with food coloring added). Some friends added a sprinkle of glitter, too. We laid another piece of waxpaper on top and cut the shape out later when dry. I initially tried to have the kids string curling ribbon to the bottom, but we'll have to work on those skills some more, so we ended up just stapling the ribbon on.

We've done a lot of painting with watercolors, so we took some of those and stenciled a seahorse shape and added them to the display.

The crabs were a lot of fun. When I made these in the past, I had a template for the arms and claws to use as a stencil. This time, we fooled around with the pipe cleaners bending and shaping (more good fine motor practice) until we got something akin to a claw. We painted them with watercolors (I know, but the kids love those individual paint pots, and the colors are so fitting with an ocean theme) and added pom poms and googly eyes when dry.

We also made a few paper plate pirates.

In our small groups this week, we played some learning games.
In one game, the students rolled the die and put the corresponding amount of fish in their dish. After everyone in the small group has had a few turns, we sort, count and compare the fish using lots of math language.

On Pre-K Pages, there is a game called "Thar She Blows". We modified this and played in in small groups and, by popular request, at circle time one day, as well. I reduced the size of a clip art whale, made about 32 and wrote a letter of the alphabet on each and "Thar She Blows" on the rest, and laminated them. We took turns drawing cards and stating the letter and appropriate sound. When someone drew the "Thar She Blows" cards, we all jumped up, did the wave and said in our best pirate/sailor voice, "Thar She Blows"! This was a BIG hit!!!

One of our independent groups worked cooperatively on an ocean floor puzzle.

The students sorted sea animals by type, size and color. We also played a game where we took turns drawing a little animals out of a bag and had to place them on an ocean mat or land mat depending on the type of animal.

Outside, we played "What Time Is It Mr. Shark?", a variation of "What Time Is It Mr.Fox?". This has quickly become a favorite, and the kids enjoy it so much they start asking at circle time if we can play it at outside later!

Our last day of the unit, the kids were allowed to dress like a pirate if they wished. (This was something many did last year in the 3's, so I knew many of them wanted to do it again this year.) If they didn't have anything to dress up in at home, they were welcome to make newspaper pirate hats or use scarves from our centers to make their own costume.

My favorite part of the unit was watching the kids become inspired. We read lots of books about ocean animals, oceans, sailing and pirates. Many of the pirate stories had treasure maps and the kids went about making maps. I love that they asked to borrow the book, How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and set out to make treasure maps of their own!

Some of the kids made 2 or three maps a piece and had them tucked into belts and pant waistlines. This was too funny to watch! I got excited that they were so into the map-making. Matt, over at Look At My Happy Rainbow, posted Maps back in February. I thought about including a map making activity in my plans for this unit, but didn't think we were ready for it yet this early in the year. Well, the kids sure showed me! I was the proud winner of the book , Katy and the Big Snow on a giveaway (Thanks, Matt!) and after seeing this enthusiasm for map making, we'll definitely have to do a similar activity when we read Katy this winter.

No unit would be complete without a few yummy morsels to go along with the theme. We made hotdog octopi and blue ocean jello. We added a few SpongeBob gummies to the jello for fun! I found some gummy sharks (after we already made the jello) so we added them on top!

I have a little boy that just moved here from Japan and he doesn't speak more than a few words of English ("BATHROOM!") and doesn't seem to like any of our American food. He came up during snack time and grabbed my leg from behind and yelled "YUMMY!" and lead me to his jello and pointed. Yea!!!!! A new food experience AND a new word! I went on to teach him "JELLO" and he kept repeating "YUMMY! JELLO!". (I have to admit, this was a fine moment for me! I will remember that moment for a long time!)

We read quite a few pirate adventures this week. Here are some of our favorites!

We also read many books about ocean life.

This was such a great unit to teach. The kids had a lot of fun. The hardest part was choosing which activities to do---there are so many out there. I always plan for way more than we can actually do, but it's always good to have back up plans if something doesn't work out.  If you have any good ocean activities you'd like to share, feel free to leave a link in comments. I'm always looking for inspiration for the next time!


  1. Wonderful unit! Dawson enjoyed the entire week...especially dressing up as a pirate Friday! I can already tell he is learning so much. Can't wait to see what y'all do next. :-)

  2. I'm so glad you liked the Thar She Blows game! Thanks for sharing your experiences with your readers :)

  3. What a cool unit, I did add some links on your FB page. Thanks for sharing. I also want to take your idea for adding the books you read at the bottom of the idea. I appreciate that, as it saves time searching my local library on Sunday:) Oh and the Ocras and jelly fish were just adorable!

  4. Oh and I did get some great ideas from Casa Camacho's site for my ocean unit. Heads up for next year:)

  5. Love the crabs & pirate crafts! Mr.Shark? great idea! I LOVE anything that has to do with pirates! Great fun.

  6. Thanks! I wish I had the time to teach this unit every year. The kids really loved it and I was able to touch on so many concepts! Thanks for leaving all the kind comments and ideas!

  7. WOW Ayn ... you guys have been very busy but I must say the treasure maps are my favourite. We've done map making before and the children really do enjoy the whole experience .. it was all to do with pirates and treasure ... such fun! Here's the link if you're interested
    Donna :) :)

  8. I love all the ocean creatures you have made! I will definitely try them! I ADORED the technique you used to make the seahorse!


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