I look forward to Sea Week all year long. It’s an opportunity to really get into science and integrate that into every subject area. Ideally, you get to do that all year. Realistically, it’s easier said than done. So, it’s no wonder that this event is a popular one where I live. I grew up in the same town I teach and have my own memories of Sea Week (Juneau, Alaska). Essentially, Sea Week is a massive district-wide effort to teach students about the coastal ecosystem around us. It typically happens in the spring so students can visit the beach and explore tide pools and have that hands-on real world experience that drives the learning home. So, let’s dive in. Pun definitely intended.
We begin our unit of study (FYI Sea Week is not actually a week, but more like a month sometimes) by taking a field trip to our local salmon hatchery (DIPAC–Douglas Island Pink and Chum). This place is. the. coolest.
The touch tanks at the aquarium have all kinds of fun animals and students are absolutely respectful and careful because we’ve gone through the conversations about living creatures and delicate ecosystems. They know a beach field trip is coming up, and proper field trip etiquette is a must.
Students get a lesson on mollusks while a fabulous aquarium scientist, Mr.Rich, turns a student into a squid step by step as students identify the body parts of a mollusk. They love this every year. Mr.Rich also gives the class a little bit of a teaser and shows them some critters under the document camera and how you can hold them in the touch tanks. This is the point where I make my way away from the front to the side and start watching the kids…he holds a scallop up flat in the palm of his hand until…splirt! The front row usually gets squirted on. Isn’t it great when you take your class on a field trip and the speaker is super engaging, can talk to the kids at their vocabulary level and you can tell they really love kids?! If you have any sort of ocean center aquarium near where you live, I highly recommend adding it to your list of field trips.
A few days later, we make our way to a local beach with a very low tide. Of course, we are fortunate enough to live on the coast so this field trip is a luxury. If you don’t live on the coast, a virtual field trip watching a movie about tide pools is a close second. Before we head to the beach, we made this anchor chart to review the rules when we travel to the beach as a large group.
And we could not have asked for a more beautiful day to enjoy the beach. Really, these kids are so lucky. Right as it was getting to be that time to go, I asked a few kiddos to stomp out letters and spell “Alaska” in the sand. Can you see it? All in all, a great couple of field trips. I am so fortunate to work in this beautiful town 🙂
When we returned to the classroom, we had a lot to draw from our field trip experiences. You can see more of what’s included in Tide Pool Activities here. Students were ready to really get going in their science notebooks. After reading A House for Hermit Crab, we made the fun little hermit crab crafts.
If you’re only looking for a hermit crab craft and not interested in tide pool activities, you can check that out here.
For those of you teaching bigger kids, I recommend the story of Pagoo by Holling C. Holling, a chapter book that goes through the life cycle of a hermit crab named Pagoo and details all of his adventures from a microscopic hermit crab floating at the top of the ocean to the fight to survive. The first time I read this story to my students, I cried. It has some scientific elements and language that primary students struggle to comprehend (and honestly, same), but it’s very much a beautiful story and I recommend it for 2nd grade and up.
So, that’s it. Feel free to leave a comment or question below about Sea Week if you are looking for ideas or would like to share. I’d love to hear what else other teachers include and add to their Tide Pool studies.
hi Jen, I love your sea unit, I am working on plans to do "under the sea" for ESY this summer for K-1 students. You live in a beautiful place! we lived in Wrangell for 3 years and miss it soooo much, we are now in the Mat-Su Valley, it has a beauty also, but not the same. Paula