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Teach Your Child About Oceans and Ocean Life

Earth’s ocean covers nearly three-quarters of its surface. The average depth is two and one-half miles, or four kilometers. Whether you’re looking at the ocean on a globe or standing on the ocean shore, the vastness of our ocean is its predominant characteristic.

Although there is really only one big ocean, we divide it up into sections and name them for our convenience. They are the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans, listed in order from largest to smallest in terms of area. The study of our oceans is called oceanography. Each ocean has its own wonders.

All ocean water is salty and filled with an unfathomable variety of plant and animal life, from the largest to the tiniest life forms on Earth. The study of ocean life is called marine biology.

Teaching your child about the ocean and ocean life can be an amazing and highly educational joint venture. There is so much to know!

Preschool

Even very young children have an inborn sense of the ocean’s immensity. Standing on the water’s edge, it is clear that there is no “other side”!

Children are fascinated by large ocean animals- whales, dolphins, sharks. Their mysterious and sometimes threatening appearance have inspired tales throughout the ages. Children’s literature featuring ocean creatures abounds. A trip to the library can spark your child’s interest and imagination. Some titles to consider:

  • Water Beds by Gail Langer Karwoski
  • Dolphins: What They Can Teach Us by Mary M. Cerullo
  • Destination Deep Sea by Jonathan Grupper
  • Across the Wide Ocean by Karen Romano Young
  • Sea Critters by Sylvia A. Earle
  • Sea Shapes by Suse Mac Donald
  • Oceans and Seas by Nicola Davies
  • Usborne First Encyclopedia of Seas and Oceans by Ben Denne
  • The Sea: Exploring Life on an Ocean Planet by Robert Burleigh
  • Oceans: How We Use the Seas by Dana Desonie

Of course, there is nothing more valuable than direct experience. A trip to the ocean will not only be fun, but a real learning experience. The sun, sand, and billowing waves alone are awe-inspiring. Add seashells, sea birds and of course the fish, and you have an unforgettable experience. Don’t forget to take a pail and shovels, some sunscreen and a camera!

Main points to address:

  • Preschoolers have a natural appreciation for the ocean’s vast size.
  • Books about the ocean and its creatures can delight your young child.
  • A visit to the ocean is the best teacher!

Grades K-3rd

Young school age children will have an opportunity to study the ocean and ocean life in school. Our weather is dependent to a large extent on the water cycle, which is greatly impacted by the water in our ocean. The plants and animals in the ocean are included in our food chain. Commerce is conducted on, in and across the ocean. Every aspect of our lives is connected in some way to the oceans. The ocean itself is a symbol of life and death and everything in between.

Children this age can become fascinated by the ocean and ocean life. Visiting a seaquarium will give your youngster an up close view of sharks, manta rays, sea turtles and other ocean life.

A salt water fish tank can be expensive, but beautiful when filled-with strikingly colorful varieties of ocean fish. Even taking a trip to a shop that sells salt water creatures can be fun and give your child an idea of the wide spectrum of colors, shapes, markings and adaptive features of ocean fish.

Children this age can begin to take advantage of the many wonderful websites dealing with the ocean and ocean life. Time spent with your child doing an Internet exploration of targeted sites can spark your child’s interest in one of the many special areas of oceanography and marine biology.

Main Points to address:

  • Life on Earth is highly impacted by and dependent on our oceans.
  • Visit a seaquarium to observe ocean creatures up close.
  • A salt water fish tank is a beautiful addition to the home.
  • Explore the oceans via the Internet with your child.

Grades 4-6th

Older children will already have a good basic idea of the role oceans play in our lives. The variety of ocean life and the interconnectedness of all life will probably be part of your child’s consciousness by this time. Because of this, your child may have already developed a passion for one aspect of oceanography or another.

A cruise or fishing trip on the ocean can be a real adventure for a young person, if it is possible and convenient to do. Make sure safety precautions are taken- check the weather forecast, sail with an experienced seaman and carry and use safety vests and rafts. There is no real substitute for being on the ocean! Make sure to take along some Dramamine or other remedy for sea-sickness, just in case.

Older children will be sensitive to the health of the ocean- to global warming and to the dangers of pollution to ocean life and to us. Encourage their awareness and compassion by supporting any efforts to become actively involved. Many organizations for kids exist today that offer a way to make a difference. Whether it is a letter writing campaign, exploring alternative energy sources, or rescuing animals affected by the carelessness of humans, your child can make the world a better place by doing his or her part according to their interest.

Opportunities to explore the ocean exist for older children through various schools and foundations. If your child has a real passion for some aspect of oceanography, you may want to look into one of these exciting possibilities.

Main points to address:

  • An ocean fishing trip or cruise can be a great learning experience.
  • Older children realize the implications of failing to care for the ocean.
  • Support your child’s interest and involvement in keeping the ocean healthy.

Resources

Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Education.

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