Learning about the ocean, and a message from Miss 6

Yes, I said Miss 6! Since my last post she has had a birthday and is now 6, and she makes me more and more proud, every year.
Miss 6 has declared her Ocean unit is finished, and she wants to learn about Australia. In her words “because, you know, I actually live in Australia, and I should know all about it, right?” Yes indeed.
So as we move on to our new unit, I am writing up what has been accomplished in the last couple of months.

Miss 6 has been immersed in all things ocean-related. She has become fascinated with sharks, and thanks to a brilliant app I found for the iPad, called “Ultimate Sharks”, she can visually identify around half a dozen, and is full of facts about different species of sharks. She has studied coral reefs, and now understands how a reef starts, how it grows, and how it dies. She has learned about the different levels of the ocean and can name them, describe them, and name animals or plants that can be found in each level. It would have been nice to have done this unit (or be continuing this unit) in the warmer weather. But the cold has not stopped us from taking trips to the beach for beach combing or exploring rock pools, and she also had a day at AQWA with her friends to support her learning.

We did lots of reading this unit. In fact, Miss 6 did hardly any “book work” at all, most of her learning came from reading out loud, reading along with the apps on the iPad, watching documentaries and hands on exploring at the beach. We did do a couple of science activities. The first of which was to grow our own coral reef. I bought a kit from the Little Passports website. She started this within a week of beginning her unit, as it took a couple of weeks to grow to maturity. Miss 6 read the instructions, followed the steps and put together the frames for the “reef”, then she added the chemicals. Over the course of the fortnight, she observed the blooming of the reef and made comparisons between the one she grew in our kitchen, to the ones in the ocean.

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In explaining how the ocean moves, I discussed with Miss 6 waves, tides and currents. She could understand the science behind tides, as we had already touched on it during her unit on space. She also had no problem grasping waves, as her favourite naturalist, Steve Backshall, mentions waves in one of his episodes, and does a demonstration on waves and wind, involving paper aeroplanes. So it fell to me to explain currents to her. I talked to her about warmer water and colder water, and what happens when the two temperatures meet and mix. I then set up a little demonstration for her. Miss 6 and Miss 3 filled a dish with ice cold water, then I filled a jug with boiling water that we had coloured blue with food colouring. Miss 6 slowly poured the boiling water into the ice water, and was able to watch how the water moved and pushed through the dish. We were also lucky enough to see a small eddy in our miniature ocean. Miss 6 thought it was a great “experiment”.

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During the course of this unit, Miss 6s reading and writing took another leap. She is not only more inclined to suggest sitting down and doing some reading or writing work, but is also displaying a marked improvement in her sounding out, spelling and penmanship. One of the “lessons” she did, which still had a scientific spin on it, as that’s her “thing” and that’s what keeps her interested, was a morning of playing sinks or floats. We gathered up around eight different items. She divided her book into two columns and wrote her guesses down, and then systematically ticked off whether she was right or wrong. We talked about the salinity of the ocean, and whether salt water would make some things float when they sank in fresh water. We used almost an entire 1kg bag of table salt to try and prove this theory, but it didn’t work. Which Miss 6 thought was hilarious. So we googled the Dead Sea and read about that instead.

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A standout in her workbook, was her picture of the different levels of the ocean. She spent the better part of an entire day, drawing her picture, reading through her books to help her decide which animals she would draw in each level, and colouring it in. When she was done, she dictated some information about the picture she had drawn. I was thoroughly impressed with the detail of her drawing and the information that she was able to give me.

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As we were winding up her work on oceans, I asked Miss 6 if there was anything else she wanted to do, before we moved on. Her response was “Mummy, the coral reefs and the oceans are in trouble, and I want people to know, so that they can help to make it better”. I asked her how she thought she could do this, and she came up with making a poster and writing a message to her friends on our blog 🙂 Her poster shows a polluted planet with smoke and cars and dirty oceans, with a big line through it, and the words DON’T WANT underneath. Then it has a happy healthy planet, with clean oceans, a big tick and the words DO WANT. The message she wanted to pass on, is this;

Carbon dioxide is covering the Earth, and making the planet too hot and sick. Carbon dioxide comes from machines and factories. Did you know that, because there is so many, cars make more carbon dioxide than planes? When the planet gets too hot, the coral reefs start to bleach. This means that it will die. The coral reef is important to us, because it is the home to 25% of the worlds ocean life. 25% means a whole quarter. If the reef dies, the animals that live there all die. The reef also takes the carbon dioxide out of the water, like trees take it out of the air. This keeps our oceans healthy. Please keep our oceans clean. If you see any rubbish at the beach, or in the water, please pick it up. If you live close to school, or work, or the shops, please ride your bike or scooter, or walk. Three arrows in a triangle shape, is the symbol for recycling. Please try and make the world better by recycling, and helping your kids to plant a tree. If every single person in the whole world, picked up one piece of rubbish, or planted one tree, the sea, and the planet could be healthy again.

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We are off to Sydney to visit family, soon, and my little girls are all very excited! Miss 6 has started her unit on Australia, and after some thought and discussion about what she is interested in, I have a loose plan for the next couple of months, including some great excursions. I think the next unit will be a little lighter on the science component, and a little heavier on maths and English. I have selected some Australian poems and songs, a well as bought some play money for her. We will cover geography with a lot of mapping and travelling, and I have a basic, introduction to Indigenous culture and art, put together for her too. And even though our unit on the ocean is finished, I have a feeling that she will revisit it at another time. I also know that it will be reinforced every time we go to the beach 🙂

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