On this, the fourth day of summer Rascal Camp, I believe we laughed the most. Sea creatures seems to be a topic a lot of kids are familiar with- sharks, jellyfish, dolphins, Nemo, etc. So today we did a lot of kid-led discussion and I asked a lot of questions, introducing info nuggets through the day instead of an instruction-focused lesson.
Keeping with routine, we started with the Hello song and a rule review. Our book today is one of my favorite ocean books: Atlantic, by G. Brian Karas. Written like a poem, this book touches on so many topics and opens up discussion organically through illustrations. We talked about the water cycle, ocean currents, icebergs, tides, umbrella uses (sun vs rain), sea creatures, abstract art and more as we read. This is a title that was gifted to my family as a birthday gift by a dear friend and I love to pull it out for ocean days. I highly recommend this as an addition to home libraries.
Our yoga practice today focused on creature features. We moved our bodies like jellyfish, octopus and more. Before finishing with balloon breaths, the kids even created their own creature feature poses, which made us all giggle.
Our first project of the day was a movement activity- the Anemone Alphabet hunt! I love a good scavenger hunt- it really works on focused thinking, noticing one’s environment, and attention span. We sang the ABC song to help us remember all the letters we needed to find and set off through the Backyard Ocean. Rascals really worked together this morning and it was heartwarming to see them cheer each other on and distribute letters to each other to make sure everyone had a few letters in their baskets. We came back together when the kids thought they’d found them all and worked as a team to put the letters in alphabetical order to figure out what letters we were still missing. They did a great job, and we only had a few more to find. After round two of the hunt, they all celebrated with high fives when the Anemone Alphabet was complete and in order.
Next, we talked about pollution and the importance of keeping oceans clean. To demonstrate this concept, two trays of lime Jell-o containing various sea creatures were brought out and each child was given a chip clip. The object of the activity was to rescue the sea creatures from The Muck using ONLY the chip clip (working on grip and hand strength, among other skills) and then place the rescued creature on the table to be cleaned later. Each kid rescued exactly ONE creature before they realized that The Muck was Jell-o and it was actually a delicious snack. Ha! I loved seeing their reactions to this delightful surprise and they proceeded to gleefully complete the rescue and lick the creatures clean (“yikes! Don’t lick a jellyfish in real life!” I said with waggling eyebrows). I was actually admonished by a Rascal for not telling them sooner!
Next, we moved our “cleaned off” creatures to the small world play in the water table: shells, more creatures, and smooth rocks that created an imaginary ocean. [This activity remained available for play through the rest of the morning and the Rascals came back to play several times as their interests led them.] The kids cleaned the creatures, played and went out into the yard to explore while I prepped snack: goldfish and sea slugs (cantelope slices).
We moved on to our math work, which was a fairly simple counting project but involved several steps. I normally try to avoid cut-and-paste type of projects that aren’t very meaningful. For this project, and these kids, on this day, I thought something a little more structured would provide some good skill reinforcement. I provided a blank aquarium for rainbow number fish. After discussing gills and how fish breath underwater, I introduced dot markers and gave the kids free reign to choose which number fish they wanted to include in their aquarium, as long as each fish had enough air bubbles! Some kids only wanted one fish, others completed all six. Once they felt satisfied with their work, they moved back to the small world play or went inside to put on swimsuits.
We moved to art next, for which I had three creative opportunities planned. The first had to be done one-on-one, so I made sure to have a blank stretch of paper, tempera paint, and sea creature stampers available for kids to explore as they waited. They were so patient as they waited their turns to make sand art! After a few false starts and spilled grains, we worked out that the sand ended up in the bottle better if I poured, so each child was in charge of holding their chosen bottle steady and naming the colors of sand they wanted within. I used a basic kit, which provided the bottles, sand and a funnel and worked really well. The kids were stoked to create their own rainbows and took care to choose their colors carefully.
For our third creative project, we painted scallop shells! We used all different sizes of paintbrushes and more tempera paint, adding glitter for extra flair. They really turned out well and dried nicely. I’d not done this before, but was impressed with the shell size as it provided plenty of space for lots of paint colors and dried really thoroughly. It was fun to paint on an atypical surface!
We wrapped up with our most fun activity of the day. With a little help from family, I had eight plain kitchen sponges (without scrubber pads) cut into basic fish shapes. We quickly discussed flying fish, and then we tried to catch some! Basically, I soaked the sponges in a tub of water and threw them to (at) a kid holding a plastic basket (the net) as they tried to catch the fish. This proved to be a hilarious exercise in what it feels like to be slapped across the face by a fish. The Rascals had SO MUCH FUN… and so did I. Flying Fish Catch also gave a lot of kids the opportunity to experience what it feels like to not be good at something the first time you try it- and how practicing can help you improve! Who knew that catching wet sponges being thrown at you could also be a character building exercise? Regardless, my voice is super hoarse after all the cheering and we will definitely be playing this frequently through the rest of the summer. This one is a must-try, pals.
Objectives and Concepts Covered:
- Language: letter identification, alphabetical order, basic letter sounds
- Math: one-to-one correspondence, counting, more vs less, addition to 6, numerical order to 6, sorting by size, size comparisons, volume
- Science: basic marine biology, aquatic respiration, ocean habitats, sea creature features, ocean conservation, coral reefs, water cycle, ocean currents, states of matter (water)
- Social Studies: world geography, local geography, bodies of water
- Motor skills: eye-hand coordination, motor planning, body awareness, spatial awareness, balance, proprioception, bilateral coordination, body awareness, fine motor skill practice, hand strengthening (for grip strength), pincer grasp