It’s a Bad Week to be a Seal…

So Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” starts this Sunday and my little is sort of obsessed with the creatures, so I thought it would be perfect timing to do some shark themed learning! It all started when he saw “Shark Boy and Lava Girl” a few weeks ago, and since then has morphed into a fascination with Bethany Hamilton (the amazing Christian pro-surfer who’s also a shark attack survivor) as well as all things shark related. Just as a disclaimer- I have a collection of prehistoric shark teeth I found at the beach years ago, but if you don’t have any on hand you can cut out pretend ones from white or black craft foam, or make them from playdough for the shark teeth activities below! Also, we did all the tooth related activities on the same day and kind of made it a “shark tooth day”. You don’t have to do this, but it made it fun to group them together! Don’t forget to swim on over to the toddler post “Baby Shark Dodo Dodo Dodo” for more fun shark activities great for young kids of all ages, like making a clothespin shark, a taste safe ocean sensory play activity and more!

Literacy:

-Shark infested waters letter recognition: Fill a cookie sheet with shaving cream. Add several drops of blue food coloring and mix well. Cut out triangles from grey craft foam and write the alphabet on them- upper and lowercase. Place the “shark fins” in the foam so they stick up. Have your little look for letters they know and pull them out and identify them (I also gave him a bowl of water to wash them off). Then, help them identify the letters they don’t know. We also reviewed the letter sounds as we went!

-Feed the shark alphabet practice: I made a “hungry shark” out of a cereal box I decorated (if you need instructions they’re under my toddler post “Baby Shark Dodo Dodo Dodo“.) Then I made several fish out of construction paper and wrote upper and lowercase letters on them. I had my little identify the letter and sound (I helped him when he got stuck, and he repeated me) then feed it to the shark!

-T is for teeth: Go over the letter T and its sound, then have your little trace it with shark teeth!

-Shark rhyming and alliteration: I broke apart the word “shark” into sh- and -ark. Then I had my little think of other words that rhymed with shark (-ark family words) and words that started with sh-.

-Books: There are so many great shark books you can get at the library to read to your kiddo! Here are a few that we read and enjoyed this week! “Shark Lady” was my personal favorite!

Math:

-Hungry shark greater than, less than practice: I had my little compare numbers by identifying each number, showing it with goldfish (ie. feeding the correct number goldfish to “sharkie 1 and sharkie 2” which I drew on paper) and then comparing the groups to see which one is bigger. I introduced him to the “greater than” and “less than” symbols by explaining the “hungry shark mouth” opens toward the bigger number. In my classroom I used to teach this with “hungry alligators”. I got the hungry shark idea from 3 Dinosaurs, who also included printables (which I didn’t use because my printer is down- the struggle is real! LoL)!

-Feed the shark counting practice: I made this for my toddler originally, but my preschooler thought it was cool so I let him play with it too. I had him count the fish as he fed them to the shark. For instructions on how to make the shark, swim on over to the toddler post “Baby Shark Dodo Dodo Dodo“.

-Shark tooth adding: Use your shark teeth as manipulatives to solve addition problems within 10 (ie. have your little identify and show each number with teeth, then count up all the teeth to get their answer). I love working on adding because it’s number recognition, counting and adding skills all rolled up in one!

-Shark tooth shapes: I drew shapes on a page and had my little trace them with shark teeth while we talked about their names and what they looked like. (somehow I forgot triangle so when we were done we split the shapes with straight lines in pieces to make triangles- it actually ended up be a good addition to the lesson to practice shape decomposition and visualizing!)

Science:

-Shark tooth excavation: We got this kit on a recommendation from my friend Alexis and we were NOT disappointed! It’s made by National Geographic (so you know it’s a winner!) and comes with a dig brick containing 3 real shark teeth- two of which are prehistoric, dig tools, and a little book about sharks and the teeth you’re digging up. Your little has to “excavate” the teeth from the brick, which is very exciting! He spent an hour quietly digging! (I should’ve got something done but I was just as excited as he was to find the teeth! hahaha) You can get it for about $12 on Amazon! It was a fantastic way to end our week!

-Shark tooth identification: If you don’t have a collection of real teeth, you could look at the different types of shark teeth online or just skip this one. Since we have several, I printed out a prehistoric shark tooth identification page and we used it to try to identify some of the nicer specimens I have. We found tiger, snaggletooth, mako, thresher, lemon, requiem, hammerhead and sand tiger!

-Desalination experiment: Sharks and other salt water fish live in an environment that’s toxic to other animals because it’s salty. They have a special system (including their kidneys and a chemical called urea) that can remove salt from the water they drink. We decided to do an experiment that would also take the salt out of water. We poured about a cup of boiling water in a bowl and stirred in a good amount of salt. I let it cool, then let my little taste a tiny bit to confirm it was salty. We placed a smaller cup inside the bowl, then we loosely covered the bowl with plastic wrap held in place by a rubber band. We placed a stone on the wrap to make it slant toward the small cup. Then we waited…as the water evaporated it was collected on the wrap and dripped into the smaller cup. The salt was left behind because it’s a solid and therefore can’t evaporate. I let my little taste the water in the small cup after the week was over and it was fresh and not salty! (Tip- this worked much quicker outside in the sun since heat is what powers evaporation!) I got this idea from STEAMsational!

-Why do sharks float?: Sharks are very large, and very heavy and technically should just sink right down to the bottom of the sea. They don’t have swim bladders like other fish which allows them to quickly change depth while attacking their prey without exploding. (A swim bladder is a bag most fish have in their bodies that they can inflate and deflate with air to help them be more buoyant.) So why do they float? First, continually moving helps them stay up, but also their huge, oily livers! We did an experiment to show this by filling two small water bottles- one with cooking oil and one with water- and placing them in a water filled sink. The water filled bottle didn’t float as well and the oily one stayed up because it was lighter than the surrounding water! I got this idea from Little Bins for Little Hands!

-Shark “can, have, are” foldable: Foldable graphic organizers are so much fun! I used to use them in my classroom all the time- instead of printing it out, you just fold a sheet of paper and trace the lines! To make this one I folded the paper in half, then in half again, then folded the top down. I added “eat” as one of the categories because…sharks! LoL Then I had my little tell me what sharks can (do), have, are and eat and I wrote it down for him. We did this at the end of the week as a review of what we learned.

Art:

-Make a shark fin: Shark week wouldn’t be complete without making a fin for imaginary play! We cut ours out from two layers of craft foam- I was all out of grey, so my little painted it. After it dried, I glued the two halves together with hot glue, punched holes at the two bottom ends, threaded string through them in a circle and tied it. Then we added a few popsicle sticks for support, as well as a pencil inside to help it stand up. My little had a blast running around pretending to be Shark Boy!

-Scissor skills shark jaw: My little loves to cut, so any activity that involves scissors he’s totally pumped about it! For this one, I folded a paper plate in half, drew some large zig zags on it, then helped him cut them. He tried by himself at first, but found it tricky to maneuver the plate around the zig zags with the paper being so thick, so I held the plate for him and he cut! I got this idea from Red Ted Art.

-Connect the dots with scissors: I drew a shark with dotted lines and numbers (similar to a connect the dot picture) and had my little cut along the lines to make his own shark! I find practicing scissor skills is more meaningful if your little is actually making something rather than cutting out random lines!

-Swimming shark activity: This was so crazy you guys! You draw a few small sharks on a piece of tin foil with an expo marker. Place the foil on a cookie sheet then fill the bottom with water. The shark magically “swims” off the tin foil and then you can blow it around with a straw! (remind your little not to drink the water with the straw…hindsight 20/20) I got this from The Keele Deal!

Supply/shopping list:

  • various shark books
  • shark teeth (real or cut from card stock or craft foam)
  • water beads
  • grey craft foam
  • goldfish crackers
  • cookie sheet
  • dice
  • bowl
  • plastic wrap
  • rock
  • rubber band
  • salt
  • two small water bottles
  • oil
  • paper plate
  • cereal box
  • tin foil
  • Shark tooth dig kit

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