Monday, February 27, 2012

Heading to the Ocean - Part One

Remember the first time you "heard" the ocean in a seashell or felt the sand shift from beneath your feet as the surf washed by? The cry of the gull, the steady rhythm of the waves on the shore, the sting of salt on your face—all of these and more remind us of the tranquility you can experience when seeing the ocean. 

As spring quickly approaches, the call to the water becomes louder and more appealing to families everywhere. We think of vacations and heading to the beach, while the children imagine who will collect the most seashells, climb to the top of the lighthouse first, build the biggest sandcastle, and kick the surf the highest!

The ocean was the topic of the very first unit study I attempted because it was just a short walk from our door, and the children were enamored by the beach and the water. They have always been so curious about the things we found or saw on the beach. I had a new baby with severe colic that was soothed by long beach walks, two fascinated and eager students anxious to leave textbooks and busywork behind, and a huge field trip arena at our doorstep—the Atlantic Ocean!

I always try to begin a unit study by asking the children what they'd like to know about the topic at hand, if they haven't already demonstrated specific interests or mentioned questions in our daily conversations. We have already determined that we would investigate sea life, so here are some of the questions that they had about this topic:

1. What is the biggest animal in the ocean?
2. What kinds of animals live in the deepest part of the ocean?
3. How long can a dolphin and whale stay underwater?
4. Where does the great white shark live?

There, that's four questions that we can tackle during this travel through the Oceans Unit Study Adventure!

From this point, I would proceed to the study outline and find the portions that would provide answers to the children's questions as well as stretch their interest into other applicable areas of the topic.

In Heading to the Ocean - Part Two - I'll give some suggestions for resources and activities to get your learning adventure ready to set sail! 

Be sure to visit our Pinterest and Facebook pages this week - you will find more inspiration, activities and Ocean fun waiting for you!

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