|Ready to explore the Aquarium!|
One of our Christmas presents was a membership to the Oregon Coast Aquarium, so we grabbed that inspiration and decided that Oceans and Marine Life was a great thing to study in January.
|Two fascinated learners.|
We start each new topic by generating a list of questions on our school white-board: Why do dolphins jump? Is a whale a fish? And so on. We use these questions through our the month as a treasure hunt – looking for answers as we explore. We don’t usually find all the answers, but working together to find our questions creates immediate interest and gives me a touchstone when life gets in the way of lesson plans.
We always check out a big stack of related books and go hunting through our bookshelves for related books. One of my favorites this month was My Visit to the Aquarium by Aliki – such beautiful art work.
Brother-Bug wrote a book report on a book we read about sharks – learning not only about sharks, but also how to write a book report (he dictated and I wrote).
He made a basic food chain picture and drew a lot of pictures if sea creatures. We talked about our favorite sea creatures and got a deck of cards with sea creatures on them, using them to play (what else?) Go Fish. These cards were great, with facts about each creature on the cards.
We got out the jellyfish we made about a year ago and hung it up. It’s a simple project that we made up, using blue cellophane and bubble wrap.
|Watching the jellies…|
By far the best project was making our windows into ocean zones, as I wrote about earlier this month.
We watched several nature documentaries on oceans, and also this amazing animation of what happens to a whale carcass. That was my favorite thing. So beautiful and creepy and amazing.
Finally, we read Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid and then watched the Disney version. We had a lively discussion that spanned several days about what was the same about the story, what was different, and why that might have been.
All in all, it was a great month. Onward now (and very much upward!) to the heavens and a study of Space.