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3 {Easy and CHEAP} Ocean Activities
19 May, 2014. 22 Comments. A Day In First Grade, First Grade, First Grade Science, Kindergarten Science, Science. Posted By: Kristen Smith
We are down to 8 days left of school. Those days include 5 full days and three half days… amongst those days we will experience field day, our class party, the school wide awards ceremony, and our annual last day of school bounce house party. 
At  this point in the year, I have finished teaching our curriculum and have filled our days with fun activities. Since our last two weeks of school are our “ocean weeks” we have had a blast exploring the ocean. 
One of the first things that we learned were the different zones in the ocean. After reading a few books on the different zones and the animals that live in each, we created “ocean zone” discovery bottles. 
To do this I bought a case of water bottles and two HUGE jugs of vegetable oil. Each jug only cost me about $2.00! 
To create the bottles, I filled my squeeze bottles with vegetable oil and dumped out half of the water in each bottle. (We used this water as a demonstration on tides– however, I don’t have any pictures of that… sorry!) 
Then my students added food coloring to the left over water in their bottles and then filled the rest of the bottle with the oil.
Using the squeeze bottle made it easy for the children to add the oil to their bottles. 
 Once the bottle was filled, I sealed the bottle tightly and let the students explore with them. 
They shook the bottles with all their might and then discovered something miraculous!
As the oil and water settled in the bottles, they were able to point out the three different layers of the ocean! The top layer was the lightest and smallest area and therefore was the sunlit zone. The next layer was a little bit darker in color. My students easily recognized it as the twilight zone. The last layer was the darkest layer and my students eagerly observed and named it the midnight zone! 
 My students LOVED this activity and RAVED about it to their parents at dismissal!! 
The past week we focused on crustaceans. We were learning all about exoskeletons and how these animals have to molt in order to get bigger. What my students didn’t know was that after learning this, I had a HUGE treat in store for them.  I had gone to my local grocery store and asked them if I could use some lobsters to help make my ocean theme come to life for my students. Luckily, the manager of the seafood department loves to help out in classrooms and gave me a great deal on two lobsters for my classroom! 
On Tuesday, my students arrived as usual, however, our morning work was very atypical. For morning work that day I told them that I had some creatures for them to explore. We reviewed what we had learned the day before and my students had the opportunity to guess who our visitors were going to be for the day. They were BESIDE THEMSELVES when I told them I had brought them two lobsters. 
I did not allow my students to HOLD the lobsters, however, I did let them touch their tails and I showed them the different parts of the lobsters. I was able to show them up close the lobsters pinching claw, crushing claw, legs, antennae, exoskeleton, mouth, and tail. 
They observed them and asked questions about them for 45 minutes! 
We even put them on one of our tables and measured them! 
It was an AWSOME lesson and produced some great writing! 
Another FREE idea that you can use in our classroom is a measuring lesson that we completed last week. I placed different ocean creature cards and shells all around my classroom. I sat my students down and told them that we were going to do a measuring activity. I showed them how to set up their notebooks and we  then discussed that we work much better when we are focused and not talking. I then told them that I was going to give them 20 minutes to measure as many objects as they could. They were allowed to measure whatever they wanted in whatever order they wanted. The only rules were that they could not talk, they had to measure in inches and record each object in their notebook, and that they could only go to objects that were open.  
After I gave the directions, I started the timer and they got right to work. 
It was AMAZING. They worked silently for 20 minutes and measured each object carefully. 
It was a great math extension that my students loved! You can use the free cards that I made last year by clicking on the picture below.
 Or you could use real life shells! 
 To record their work, I simply had them use their notebooks! We folded the page down the middle and recorded the objects on the left and the length on the right. Super simple, and super easy! 
I hope that you are doing well!

{PS- A tip if you get lobsters for your classroom: make sure that you have wet newspaper for them to “sit” on. Also, make sure that you keep them in your refrigerator up until the point that you are going to take them out to show them to your class. They do not live for a long time out of the water, so if you are going to get them, get them the night before you are going to bring them to school.  I personally love to eat lobster and grew up handling them so I knew how to hold them and where it was safe for the kids to touch them. You can ask the manager or worker at your local seafood section to show you these things. And for all of you wondering, yes, I did eat them for dinner that night. :)}

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22 Comments
  1. It looks like your kids had a blast!

  2. You are the ONLY teacher I know that would bring real life lobsters to school. What an amazing day!

  3. I love that activity with the bottles-I might have to steal that one! :)

    NotJustChild’sPlay

  4. Em -

    My STEM kids loved the bottles – we did it last week! I’m pumped to try the lobster – we’re in the middle of moving and I just couldn’t convince my husband to help me set up a little acquarium for a hermit crab! Thanks!!!

  5. I love the lobster idea. I may have to try it next year. If I can talk the husband into it.
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  6. I never thought to bring in a lobster!! That is brilliant. My kids will absolutely DIE. We are starting ocean next week to end our year. I am SO glad I found this today.

    This might seem like a silly question… what did you do with them for the remainder of the day? Do you keep them in a bag of water? I am used to getting them at the grocery store and cooking them as soon as I can get home! No storing required!

    Meredith
    The Big Apple Teacher

  7. I like the idea of the measuring activity – 20 minutes of silence would be lovely!
    Growing Little Learners

  8. i like your blog keep sharing your information
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  9. My STEM kids loved the bottles – we did it last week! I’m pumped to try the lobster – we’re in the middle of moving and I just couldn’t convince my husband to help me set up a little acquarium for a hermit crab! Thanks!!!
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  10. اضغط هنا
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    http://www.adayinfirstgrade.com/
    My STEM kids loved the bottles – we did it last week! I’m pumped to try the lobster – we’re in the middle of moving and I just couldn’t convince my husband to help me set up a little acquarium for a hermit crab! Thanks!!!

  11. i dont understnad how much food coloring you put in each bottle. im in high school and doing a project just like this but it didnt say all the information. so if anyoone could get back to me on tht one i would really appreciate it

    • Elena, it’s however much you want! If you want it dark, add a lot! If you want it light, just add a few drops. There is no “right” answer. :) I give the food coloring bottles to my students and let them add their own food coloring. They normally add about 5-7 drops. I hope your project comes out well!

  12. Claire -

    Hi Kristen!

    I would really like to do the ocean zones activity for a summer camp I’ll be working June 8-June 19, but I have a few questions. To confirm, it’s half water and half oil? Did you try any other water/oil combinations? Did you only use vegetable oil or did you see what happened with other oils? I find it so amazing that the food coloring separated like that from light at the top to dark at the bottom…did it consistently turn out that way? Did you try any other size water bottles? I have to organize this for 8 kids and I’m going to need to get everything together by June 11.

    Your input is much appreciated!!! Thanks so much, and what a cool activity!

    Claire

    • Claire- I used vegetable oil because I had tried EVOO in the past and it didn’t have the same end result that I was looking for. I did not try coconut oil or safflower oil because they are really expensive for this type of project. I bought the extra giant container of vegetable oil so it was very low in cost… My students are the ones that poured the ingredients in to their containers so it ranged from 1/2 and 1/2 to 1/4 and 3/4 full. Each time it worked; however, I tend to like to add just a little bit more blue water than oil. Have fun experimenting!!

      • Claire -

        Thank you so, so much! I really appreciate your feedback, and I look forward to doing this with my group.

  13. I love your creativity and how you engage your students! I have a question: what did you do with the lobsters when you were done? Thanks! :)

    • I put them back in the fridge and ate them for dinner! :)

22 Comments

  • It looks like your kids had a blast!

  • You are the ONLY teacher I know that would bring real life lobsters to school. What an amazing day!

  • I love that activity with the bottles-I might have to steal that one! :)

    NotJustChild’sPlay

  • Em -

    My STEM kids loved the bottles – we did it last week! I’m pumped to try the lobster – we’re in the middle of moving and I just couldn’t convince my husband to help me set up a little acquarium for a hermit crab! Thanks!!!

  • I love the lobster idea. I may have to try it next year. If I can talk the husband into it.
    Thanks for sharing!!!

  • I never thought to bring in a lobster!! That is brilliant. My kids will absolutely DIE. We are starting ocean next week to end our year. I am SO glad I found this today.

    This might seem like a silly question… what did you do with them for the remainder of the day? Do you keep them in a bag of water? I am used to getting them at the grocery store and cooking them as soon as I can get home! No storing required!

    Meredith
    The Big Apple Teacher

  • I like the idea of the measuring activity – 20 minutes of silence would be lovely!
    Growing Little Learners

  • i like your blog keep sharing your information
    Personalization Mall Promo Code

  • My STEM kids loved the bottles – we did it last week! I’m pumped to try the lobster – we’re in the middle of moving and I just couldn’t convince my husband to help me set up a little acquarium for a hermit crab! Thanks!!!
    اضغط هنا
    اضغط هنا
    http://www.adayinfirstgrade.com/

  • اضغط هنا
    اضغط هنا
    http://www.adayinfirstgrade.com/
    My STEM kids loved the bottles – we did it last week! I’m pumped to try the lobster – we’re in the middle of moving and I just couldn’t convince my husband to help me set up a little acquarium for a hermit crab! Thanks!!!

  • i dont understnad how much food coloring you put in each bottle. im in high school and doing a project just like this but it didnt say all the information. so if anyoone could get back to me on tht one i would really appreciate it

    • Elena, it’s however much you want! If you want it dark, add a lot! If you want it light, just add a few drops. There is no “right” answer. :) I give the food coloring bottles to my students and let them add their own food coloring. They normally add about 5-7 drops. I hope your project comes out well!

  • Claire -

    Hi Kristen!

    I would really like to do the ocean zones activity for a summer camp I’ll be working June 8-June 19, but I have a few questions. To confirm, it’s half water and half oil? Did you try any other water/oil combinations? Did you only use vegetable oil or did you see what happened with other oils? I find it so amazing that the food coloring separated like that from light at the top to dark at the bottom…did it consistently turn out that way? Did you try any other size water bottles? I have to organize this for 8 kids and I’m going to need to get everything together by June 11.

    Your input is much appreciated!!! Thanks so much, and what a cool activity!

    Claire

    • Claire- I used vegetable oil because I had tried EVOO in the past and it didn’t have the same end result that I was looking for. I did not try coconut oil or safflower oil because they are really expensive for this type of project. I bought the extra giant container of vegetable oil so it was very low in cost… My students are the ones that poured the ingredients in to their containers so it ranged from 1/2 and 1/2 to 1/4 and 3/4 full. Each time it worked; however, I tend to like to add just a little bit more blue water than oil. Have fun experimenting!!

      • Claire -

        Thank you so, so much! I really appreciate your feedback, and I look forward to doing this with my group.

  • I love your creativity and how you engage your students! I have a question: what did you do with the lobsters when you were done? Thanks! :)

    • I put them back in the fridge and ate them for dinner! :)

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