June 8th is World Oceans Day, and we were inspired to start our Ocean Unit Study.
As always, we begin any unit study by referring to books while exploring our animal figurines. Children love National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean (buy here). The book is a comprehensive animal reference, including the sea's high-interest animals (such as dolphins, sharks, sea otters, and penguins) as well as some of its lesser-known creatures. More than a hundred vibrant animal photographs illustrate the profiles, with facts about the creatures' sizes, diets, homes, and more.
My Mom collected these beautiful starfishes for Julia and Adrian, and we placed them inside of the Discovery windows (buy here ), which are great for displaying as well as for preserving something fragile.
To prepare this ocean sensory bin, we are using water beads (buy here) which are nontoxic, biodegradable, and available in three colors: white, aqua, and blue. Once you add water, the dehydrated beads start expanding, and in about 6-8 hours, they are fully expanded!
A new addition to our collection: Sperm Whale (buy here) is now Adrian's favorite!
Sperm whale has set several records. It is the largest toothed whale and has the biggest mouth of all whales. It could potentially swallow a person whole! However, sperm whale is not dangerous to people because it is only interested in attacking squid, of which it consumes around 1.5 tons a day. Sperm whale's brain weighs 9.5 kilograms (as heavy as almost two bowling balls) and is thus the heaviest brain of all mammals. Sperm whale navigates through the seas using echolocation. You can hear it whistling, squeaking, and groaning under water from several kilometers away.
Sea turtles - green-brownish color, have perfectly adapted to life in the water. Their feet have developed into a shape of paddles and their bodies are more streamlined than those of tortoises, allowing them to move skillfully through the water. Their movements look like they are flying underwater. Except for the time they lay eggs, turtles spend their entire life in tropical and subtropical waters where they hunt for cephalopods, crabs and jellyfish. Did you know that sea turtles, as oppose to land turtles/tortoises, are not able to pull their large head into the shell?
Although seahorses hardly look like a fish, they are indeed fish - from the hippocampus family. Seahorses live in tropical and moderate seas, off the coast of south-east Australia and New Zealand. They use their curled tail to grip seaweed or other seahorses. Seahorses propel themselves very slowly with the help of their transparent dorsal fin. The tiny pectoral fin is for steering. Did you know that it is the male seahorse that hatches the eggs? At birth the fry are literally thrown out of the male's pouch!
Submerging into the ocean water play! Humpback Whale (buy here) always draws Adrian's attention.
The humpback whale is a charismatic species of large whale that has a truly global distribution, living from Antarctica to the Arctic (except under the sea ice) and from the coast to the open ocean. The humpback whale is one of the largest animals on Earth, growing to lengths of more than 50 feet (16 m) and weights of 40 tons (36 metric tonnes). This incredible size is only possible because of this species’ aquatic lifestyles and the buoyancy provided by seawater. On land, an animal as large as the humpback whale would almost certainly be crushed under its own weight. Although they are enormous, humpback whales are not predatory: they filter feed some of the tiniest fish in the ocean, such as krill, plankton and shrimp, and are totally harmless to people. Humpback whales are known for their magical songs, which travel for great distances through the world's oceans. Scientists have found that the noises humpback whales make are their way of communicating with each other through song and to appeal to prospective mates.
For details on the books we are reading, see a post here "🌊 Ocean 📚 Books we are reading."
See here a post "International Polar Bear🐻 Day- How we celebrate" where we also used gel water beads during a sensory play.
Also, see here "❄️Polar 🌎Regions Unit Study • 🎅🏻 🇦🇶Land 🌊Water 🌬Air" where we explored in details some of our animal friends.