Tag: beach science for kids (Page 1 of 4)

Gyotaku Fish Print Activity for Kids

Today we are going to continue with our ocean science-themed activities for kids, with a fish printing activity based on the Japanese art form, gyotaku.

Gyotaku is wonderful because it incorporates both art and science into a combined learning experience. While making colorful prints, children observe the fish closely. In the process they learn about fish external anatomy, and also details useful in identification of individual species. See this index for an extensive list of examples of gyotaku fish prints by artist Joe McAuliffe.

fishprint- gyotaku

Gyotaku started in Japan as a way for fishermen to record their catch. Traditionally, gyotaku prints were made by applying inks to an actual fish and then pressing thin, but tough paper onto it. Today you can buy rubber or plastic replicas to use for printing. You can print on paper or cloth as you choose. The fish example above is printed on cloth.

You will need:

  • Fish or fish model
  • Block printing inks
  • Cloth or paper
  • Plates or trays for holding the ink
  • Brayer (hand roller for loading and applying ink)
  • Newspapers, old tablecloths or sheets to cover printing surface
  • Fish external anatomy illustrations, such as at South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

The process is relatively simple, but may require practice to achieve the desired results. If you are using actual fish, you will need to wash it with water to remove mucous/debris from the surface. Dry the fish. Place some block printing ink into the plates or trays, and ink up the brayer by rolling it through the ink. Apply the ink evenly to the fish. Now you may either press the paper onto the fish or press the fish onto the paper, as evenly as possible. Play around with the technique to see which way works best for you and how much ink is needed. Set the paper or cloth aside and allow to dry.

Traditionally not much else is added to the print, but you can use your imagination. This gyataku print includes seaweed.

There are loads of places to learn more about gyotaku on the Internet, just load up your favorite search engine and go.

Where to get supplies:

Acorn Naturalists sells a number of gyotaku supplies.


Models to use for printing are also available on Amazon (photo is affiliate link).


This post is part of our ocean science series. Visit the landing page for links to all the related posts.


A Week of Ocean Science-Themed Books and Activities

Oceans cover over 70% of our planet and have an incredible impact on our lives. This week we are going to delve into ocean science with some new books and hands-on activities for children.


This will be a landing page with links to all the related posts as they go up this week.

Expect to find:

Monday – Book review for a new children’s nonfiction book, Sylvia Earle:  Ocean Explorer by Dennis Fertig.

Tuesday -  Incredible Algae!

Wednesday – Invertebrate of the Week:  Jellyfish, with information about the citizen science project called JellyWatch

Thursday – Gyotaku fish painting activity for kids

Friday -  Book Review of Searching for Great White Sharks by Mary Cerullo

Hope you enjoy having a little dip into ocean science.


The Monterey Bay Aquarium has ocean science curricula organized by grade level and by subject, as well as a Sea Searcher activity (page has link to activity available for download), and fun games and activities to do.

Do you have any ocean science books or activities to share? Let us know in the comments and we’ll pin them to our Ocean Science Pinterest board.


We also have a growing list of ocean and beach science-themed children’s books at our sister blog, Science Books for Kids.

Plastic, Ahoy: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Want a first hand look at young scientists exploring a recently discovered phenomenon? Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman, with photographs by Annie Crawley introduces the middle grade level reader to three graduate students who spend nearly three weeks aboard a research vessel in the Pacific Ocean taking samples from what is called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

Plastic, Ahoy!- Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

In August of 2009, Miriam Goldstein, Chelsea Rochman, and Darcy Taniguchi departed on a ship as part of the Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition or SEAPLEX (see the blog). The book chronicles their observations and experiences.

You can get a feel for the book in this trailer:



Surprisingly, the students found that much of the plastic in the Garbage Patch is small broken pieces, basically “the size of confetti.” The small size is going to make removing the plastic from the water very difficult because any net that is the right size to capture the bits of plastic will also capture all sorts of marine life. The bottom line is that these are not all full-sized water bottles floating around.

The team members also discovered that 9% of 147 the fish they sampled during the trip had plastic bits in their stomachs. Given that there is some evidence plastic bits tend to accumulate toxins from the water, this could have long term negative consequences to food chains. Obviously more studies need to be done.

Not all the news was necessarily negative, however. One study found that sea-going relatives of water striders called “sea striders” are actually doing better in the Garbage Patch because more debris means more places they can lay their eggs (Plastic Trash Altering Ocean Habitats, Scripps Study Shows).

Plastic, Ahoy! can be a jumping off point for many potential science experiments and explorations of your own. Here are just a few ideas:

1. The lifespans of plastic objects

How long will your trash bag live? is an idea for a science fair project that compares the longevity of plastic, paper, and biodegradable plastic bags buried in the ground. This is a long duration experiment (months).

In this article, a Teen Decomposes Plastic Bag in Three Months

2. Preventing plastic from reaching the ocean

Science Buddies has a science fair project idea for looking at the design of storm drains with the idea of keeping trash from getting into the water

3. Floating ocean trash experiments from previous post at Growing with Science

4. The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program has educational materials such as:

Plastic, Ahoy!: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman, with photographs by Annie Crawley is an exciting introduction to science, told through the stories of actual young scientists. You will want to share it with children interested in marine biology, chemistry and conservation. It would make perfect reading for Earth Day (April 22, 2014) or World Ocean Day (June 8, 2014) or a unit on the environment, particularly the marine environment.

Recommended Ages:  8-12
Publisher: Millbrook Pr Trade (January 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1467712833
ISBN-13: 978-1467712835

Disclosures: This book was provided for review via Blue Slip Media. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon, and if you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.


Come visit the STEM Friday blog each week to find more great Science, Technology, Engineering and Math books.

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