Early Lit Tips: Under the Sea

Summer weather often brings thoughts of going to the beach. Children are often fascinated by the shells and creatures they encounter there. In honor of the recent World Oceans Day (June 8), lets learn more about animals that live under the sea.

Early Literacy Tip: As is true for nearly all of  the best picture books, Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef  supports multiple early literacy practices and skills. The most obvious is Singing. But it is also well-suited for Talking. Talking, telling stories, and stretching conversations are ways children learn new information, new vocabulary, and other early literacy skills. As always, if you have questions, ask your local children’s librarian – they’re early literacy experts!

Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef  by Marianne Berkes. Illustrated by Jeanette Canyon.
Cover of Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef by Marianne BerkesIn this book, Marianne Berkes adapts the classic counting song, Over in the Meadow, to life in a coral reef, under the sea. The fun counting song includes lots of factual details about the coral reef habitat and the animals that live there. After singing the song, and counting the creatures, go back and look through the book more slowly, talking about the animals and their actions. This is a great way to build vocabulary by learning names of new animals and words for their actions. These sea creatures don’t just swim, they puff, grunt, and flutter. Berkes includes factual information about all of the animals in the back of the book. The beautiful, detailed illustrations invite you to linger over the pictures, talking about what you see. Between the counting and learning about life in a coral reef, there’s a lot of STEM content here, too.

I wrote a full review of this book for the Central Rappahannock Library’s website: Over in the Ocean by Marianne Berkes. For more books you can use and to build early literacy by talking and resources to learn more, check out my booklist: Building Early Literacy by Talking.

Rhymes and Songs
Continue counting and learning about sea creatures with these rhymes from Learning Wonders. They have a number of other rhymes available on the site as Free Curriculum*.

Five Little Fishes
Five little fishes swimming near the shore.
Swish went the waves. And then there were four.
Four little fishes, pretty as can be.
Swish went the waves. And then there were three.
Three little fishes, with a spot of blue.
Swish went the waves. Then there were two.
Two little fishes, swimming in the sun.
Swish went the waves. Then there was one.
One little fishy, swimming all alone.
I’ll put you in my gold fish bowl and take you home.

Octopus, Octopus
Octopus, octopus down in the sea.
How many arms can you show me?
Only one, or will it be two?
Why are all of these arms on you?
Will it be three or will it be four?
Oh, dear me! Are there really more?
Will it be five or will it be six?
I think that my eyes are playing tricks.
Will it be seven or will it be eight?
Tell me, octopus. I cannot wait.
Octopus, octopus down in the sea,
How many arms can you show me?
(Of course, the answer is eight!)

*I am not advocating purchase of kits from the Learning Wonders site. But they do deserve credit for the rhymes I found in their Free Curriculum section.

The first activity is adapted from a Preschool STEM Library Program created by Tina Ladika. You can find her complete Ocean and Beach Storytime on the Simply STEM wiki’s Preschool Page.

Make Waves
Hold opposite ends of a blue sheet or small plastic tablecloth. Better yet, get some friends and spread out around the sheet. Make waves by moving the sheet up and down. Play with the height and frequency of your waves as you pretend there is a breeze, getting faster and higher as the breeze gets stronger. Kids may want to go under the sheet and pretend to be fish under the waves.

Paper Plate Fish
Paper Plate Fish DecorationsThis is a super simple craft I used for a Preschool Storytime to create decorations for our Summer Reading Program. You can see them hanging in an ocean of blue streamers in our Children’s Area.

You’ll need a plain, old fashioned paper plate for each fish, glue or tape, scissors and crayons, markers, paint, stickers or anything else you want to use to decorate the fish. Cut a triangle shape from one end. That space is the mouth. Attach the triangle to the back end of the fish as the tail. Then decorate the fish however you would like. We punched a hole in the top of the completed fish and used yarn to hang them from the ceiling.


About booksnquilts

I'm the Children's Services Coordinator for the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in Central Virginia.
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