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Our family finally made it to the beach and had a lot of fun. We visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and saw the "Secret Life of Sea Horses" exhibit. It was awesome, take a peek:

What kind of creatures are sea horses? Are they fish? They have an exterior that looks rather hard, so some people might wonder if they are crustaceans. The tiny fins and gills give it away though, sea horses are fish! If you replay the video, look for the tiny gills and fins moving.

Sea horses and their relatives, the pipefish and seadragons, are called gasterosteiform fish because they lack scales and have bony plates instead. They are poor swimmers and often rely on camouflage to hide from predators. The seadragons in particular have so many leafy flaps on their bodies they look like floating seaweed instead of animals.

Sea horses are carnivores and eat small crustaceans, such as tiny shrimp and planktonic invertebrates.

Activities:

1.Gyotaku and fish anatomy

Are you familiar with the Japanese art of gyotaku, making prints or rubbings from fish?

gyotaku

Traditionally, prints were made by applying paint to actual fish. Today you can also buy rubber or plastic replicas if you don't have access to whole fish. You can print on paper or cloth as you choose. This particular fish is printed on cloth.

Gyotaku is great because it incorporates both art and science into a fun learning experience. While the children are looking at the fish they can learn fish anatomy (see resources below) and also details useful in identification of individual species. There are loads of places to learn more about gyotaku on the Internet, just load up your favorite search engine and go.

Try this gyotaku lesson plan at ArtsEdge for ideas.

Dick Blick art supplies has a model sea horse.

Acorn Naturalists also sells gyotaku supplies.

2. Moving Through the Water.

Different fish have different shaped bodies. Do some move through the water more easily than others?

(See fish body shapes .pdf in resources below) Edit: no longer available

Gather:

  • modeling clay
  • string or yarn
  • scissors
  • sink with water

Cut a few pieces of string about 18 inches long (at least two). Form a few golf ball-sized lumps, the same number as pieces of string. Take a small lump of clay and wrap around one end of the string, so the string is embedded. Form the lump into a rough sea horse shape. Now take another ball of clay and wrap around another piece of string. Form this into a typical fish shape, such as a trout. This shape is called fusiform. Put each shape into the sink and drag across the water. Does one shape move more easily than others? Try some other fish shapes as well. Which shape moves through the water most easily?

Resources:

Nova Program: Kingdom of the Seahorse Resources

National Geographic Seahorse

Tennessee Aquarium Seahorses

(Edit: broken links were removed.)

Now it is time to finish our summer beach science series and get ready for fall. We'll miss the sand between our toes (although I think I still have some in my hair), but look forward to a brisk change of pace and some autumn foliage.

ocean

To check the rest of the posts on beach science, follow these links:

Shore Birds

Tide Pool Invertebrates

Beach Science- Boats

Beach Science Algae

Beach Science-Sand

Beach Science-Seawater

Weekend science fun will be short this week because a few things are getting in the way. (Sick cat, sick computer, etc.)

To continue beach science, let's take a look at some other common visitors to the seashore. Grab an identification guide and some binoculars, and a camera if you want, and let's investigate.

sea gull

You may have seen sea gulls dozens of times, but have you really looked at one? Check out those pink webbed feet.

Investigation 1. How do the beaks and feet of shore birds differ from those of the song birds in your community? How are they similar? Ever seen a pelican at the beach?

shore birds

Shore birds always seem busy.

Investigation 2. What do shore birds eat?

Investigation 3. Do shore birds drink? Where do they get their water?

shore birds

Shore birds are often in big groups, like these cormorants.

Investigation 4. Why are shore birds often seen in flocks?

Investigation 5. Where do different types of shore birds nest?

(Hint for 4 and 5: think about bird movement or migration).

shore birds

Now lie down on the beach, close your eyes and listen.

Investigation 6. What sounds do shore birds make?

Hope you have fun discovering shore birds.

Drop us a note in the comments and let us know what you find out.

Edit: To check the rest of the posts on beach science, follow these links:

Sea Horses and Other Fish

Tide Pool Invertebrates

Beach Science- Boats

Beach Science Algae

Beach Science-Sand

Beach Science-Seawater

Have you ever explored a tide pool while at the beach?

tide-pool-8Do you remember wondering what some of the creatures are?

A majority of the animals you see in a tide pool are classed as invertebrates, which means they lack backbones (or more technically, dorsal nerve cords). Invertebrates include animals like

jellyfish
jellyfish,

hermit-crabs8
hermit crabs,

sea-anemoneand sea anemones.

Growing With Science Tide Pool Animals Craft

Activity: Making Clay Tide Pool Creatures

Today's craft helps hone observation skills needed to identify and classify the many diverse marine invertebrates.

Gather:

  • Photos/drawings of various marine invertebrates such as the Invertebrate Guide at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (click on thumbnail images) or illustrations from some of the books below.
  • Toothpicks (if age appropriate)
  • Paint
  • Markers
  • Chenille and/or wax-coated wikki stix
  • Your favorite modeling compound such as salt dough or modeling clay

Basic salt dough is 1 cup of salt, 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of warm water mixed together and then kneaded. Shape the dough and let it dry. You can adjust the relative amounts of flour and water to suit your needs.

We used Crayola Model Magic, which we purchased with a coupon from a craft store.

(Affiliate link to Amazon)

Study the examples and then create your own models. You can push in toothpicks as spines, and chenille or wikki skix as legs.

Let the models dry and then paint and decorate them. You can use your models to create fun tidal pool scenes by adding rocks and/or construction paper algae.

Examples of tide pool scenes:

seascene2octopuslobsterseascene1

Want more information about animals found in tide pools? Try the books below. (Disclosure: I am an affiliate for Amazon. 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.)

Nonfiction

Life in a Tide Pool (Rookie Read-About Science) by Allan Fowler

Simple, straightforward informational nonfiction that covers the tide pool habitat.

Age Range: 6 and up
Series: Rookie Read-About Science
Library Binding: 32 pages
Publisher: Children's Press (CT) (September 1996)
ISBN-10: 0516200313
ISBN-13: 978-0516200316

How to Hide an Octopus and Other Sea Creatures (Reading Railroad) by Ruth Heller

Ruth Heller's books about camouflage are delightful, with rhyming text and colorful illustration. Highly recommended!

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (April 29, 1992)
ISBN-10: 0448404788
ISBN-13: 978-0448404783

Seashells, Crabs and Sea Stars: Take-Along Guide (Take Along Guides) by Christiane Kump Tibbitts and illustrated by Linda Garrow

Introduces children to common tide pool animals, with tips for identifying 15 different kinds of seashells, 5 kinds of crabs and 7 kinds of sea stars. Suggestions for activities included.

Age Range: 7 - 10 years
Publisher: Cooper Square Publishing Llc (January 1, 1999)
ISBN-10: 1559716754
ISBN-13: 978-1559716758

What Lives in a Shell? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld and illustrated by Helen K. Davie

This series is really outstanding. What Lives in a Shell? covers many animals found at the beach.

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (April 22, 1994)
ISBN-10: 0064451240
ISBN-13: 978-0064451246
What's in the Tide Pool? by Anne Hunter

The books in this series are small (approximately 5 inches x 5 inches). Each describe a few common animals in a given habitat.

Age Range: 4 - 7 years
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (August 28, 2000)
ISBN-10: 0618015108
ISBN-13: 978-0618015108

In One Tidepool: Crabs, Snails, and Salty Tails by Anthony D. Fredericks and illustrated by Jennifer Dirubbio

This book includes rhyming text of the "house-that-Jack-built" format.

Age Range: 4 and up
Publisher: Dawn Pubns; 1 edition (August 1, 2002)
ISBN-10: 1584690380
ISBN-13: 978-1584690382

There are a number of books about a single group of invertebrates that are written for young children. For example:

Crab (Welcome Books: Ocean Life) by Lloyd G. Douglas

Age Range: 4 and up
Publisher: Children's Press(CT) (September 2005)
ISBN-10: 0516237403
ISBN-13: 978-0516237404

Sea Stars (Ocean Life) by Lola M. Schaefer

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Publisher: Capstone Press (July 1, 1998)
ISBN-10: 0736882219
ISBN-13: 978-0736882217

 

Fiction

A House for Hermit Crab (The World of Eric Carle) by Eric Carle

Growing and having to move are themes in this classic book about a hermit crab looking for a new shell to live in.

Age Range: 5 - 7 years
Publisher: Simon Spotlight; Reissue edition (May 13, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1481409158
ISBN-13: 978-1481409155

Don't forget to check for other posts in the beach science category here at Growing With Science.