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SEA Creatures Activit(ies) 2: Coral Reefs

I will admit, I haven’t been so good about posting the SEA Creatures lesson plans as I’d wanted, so I’ll try and catch up over the next couple of days. But the good news is that the program is going very well so far! Pictures are updated on our Facebook page, and I am working on having a gallery on the main SEA Creatures page. 

Coral reefs near Marigot Bay in Saint Lucia

Coral Reefs

About Corals
Since Saint Lucia is surrounded by coral reefs, and these very reefs are endangered due to climate change, water pollution and coral diseases (amongst other things), I wanted to teach the kids about them. Many of the kids don’t know how to swim, and so they haven’t seen a reef before. Even those that had seen them didn’t know exactly what a coral was?

Corals may look like a rock or plant, but they are actually animals! And each structure you see isn’t just one coral, but is a colony.  They can’t move around (They are sessile organisms) but because of a special relationship with a type of algae plant called zooxanthellae, they can still eat! The zooxanthellae live inside the coral reef, and like all plants, they get their energy from the sun.  The zooxanthellae give some of the energy to the coral, and the coral, in turn, provide a safe place for the algae to live.  Because the two organisms are helping each other, we call this a mutualistic relationship.

The algae alone isn’t enough to keep it alive.  At night, the corals open up their rocky faces to reveal tentacles that can sting like a jellyfish.  The coral can use these tentacles to stun and bring their food to their mouths (which is also their butt, hehehe). They can also use their tentacles to fight, as you can see in this video.
Coral Reef [Hunting & Fighting]

 

 

Activities: 

We did several activities across the different schools.  One was to watch the “Magic School Bus: Takes a Dive” episode, which the kids loved.  The episode takes them underwater and teaches them about mutualistic relationships, which was the theme of our lesson.
After the movie, we went outside to do 3-legged races, which represent how 2 organisms have to work together to survive!

Mutualistic Racing

 

At schools without access to a television, we focused on how a coral feeds and how the algae provides color and energy to the coral polyps.

Materials needed:
White Latex Gloves (one for each kid)
Sharpies
Treat of some sort (we used cheeto snacks)

1) Allow each kid to have one glove and a sharpie. (We used Sharpies because I had them              and they don’t run as much as a washable marker on a glove – paint might work too?)

2) Explain to the children that their hands are coral polyps and when it is white, it means that there is no algae inside. Without the algae (zooxanthellae) they will starve, so they have to color their gloves.

Kids coloring their gloves

3) Once everyone colors their gloves, instruct all the children to put their heads down on the desk and close their eyes… corals are blind you know!

4) Now, call out to the children that it is the daytime and the sun is out, so a coral will keep it’s tentacles in (so they should make a fist with their hands).  Wait a bit, then say that it is getting dark, darker… until it’s nighttime! At night the corals open and wiggle their tentacles around to find food that is floating by.  So, in our game, walk around and put little treats in the kids’ hands as they wiggle their fingers. Switch between day and night time, making sure the kids do the appropriate action with their hands.  Keep going until everyone gets a nice little snack, or you run out of food.

Corals catch whatever floats by in the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEA Creatures Activity 1: Upcycled Paper Necklaces

For the first week of the SEA Creatures club, we will be making nautical-themed necklaces with the kids’ names on them, almost completely out of upcycled materials!

(The parrot and iguana are examples from other projects – we will be using other animals.)

This project can be high in prep time, but is easy enough for kids as young as 5 to participate in.  It’s a great startoff project though because it helps to learn the kids’ names, separate them into smaller groups (each character type is a group), lets them be crafty and allows them to take something home to show their parents (which is important when trying to recruit kids for an after school activity!).  Hopefully they’ll learn some about the animals they are coloring and recycling while we are at it!

Big thank you to Nami, Afua, and Grace who helped design this craft!!

 

How to make an Upcycled Necklace:

For ages 5+ years

Preparations:

Character Pendant

Materials Necessary:
– white paper (best if reused!)
– thin cardboard (from cereal-type boxes) or cardstock
– glue
– scissors
– big needle
– colorful string (yarn is not recommended)
– this file is using my characters – Necklace Characters – Sea theme

How to:
1) Print the characters onto the white side of your reused paper. Cut them all out.
2) Glue the characters to the cardboard, fitting as many as possible onto each piece. Cut   them out.

3) Use a big needle to poke a hole at the top of each character.  Thread a piece of string (ours were about a meter long) through each hole.Alternative options:
-If you don’t have a printer, draw or trace characters onto the paper.
– In classrooms with enough scissors, allow older kids to cut their own characters out.
Paper Beads

Materials Necessary:
– colorful magazine (Thank you St. Lucia Tourist Board for donating ours!)
– scissors

How to:
1) Take pages of the magazine and cut into long triangle shapes.  They don’t need to be the same size.

 

Bottlecap Bead
Materials Necessary:
–  bottlecaps
–  nail
–  hammer
–  needle and thread
–  spare fabric
–  5cm (2-inch) diameter circle to trace

How to:
1) Use a nail and hammer to tap holes through the middle of your bottlecaps.
2) Cut fabric into circles with a 5cm or 2 inch diameter.

3) Sew the fabric onto the bottlecap.

 

 

 

Alternative option: You may let kids paint their bottlecaps instead (or spray paint them all beforehand).

 

Now we are ready to find some kids! I borrowed my neighbor to be my model.

Kids part:

Materials necessary:
– Character Pendants w/ string
– crayons/markers
– scrap colored paper if adding names
– paper strips for beads
– glue (sticks if possible)

1) The kids should try to make the beads first. Sometimes they get glue everywhere and the beads have to dry before they can thread them.  They need at least 5 beads (any odd number works though).

To make the beads:
Tell the kids to pick which side they like the most.  Put that side on the bottom and start rolling from the fat end. As you roll about halfway up, put glue on the skinny part of the triangle.
Younger kids will need help and they may be loosely wrapped once they finish, but it’s their craft so I leave it unless they ask for help.  Just grab the ends and pull the “tail” if they want it tighter though.Some kids will go very quickly – they can make more beads or move on to coloring!

2) Allow the kids to color the pendants. 

I don’t have the string on this parrot yet, but if you are working with a lot of kids, it’s better to have as much stringed up beforehand as possible.
Glue a piece of scrap paper with the children’s names on their characters.

3) Add beads.  We put both strings through one bead and the bottle cap (using a needle for the bottlecap), and then put the remaining beads on either side of the necklace.

Tie it all together and…

TA-DA!