Posts Tagged ‘fish’

Ocean Shadow Box

Monday, September 18th, 2017


If your kids are learning about underwater sea creatures, why not make an ocean shadow box? It is super easy and will re-enforce the children’s learning about ocean creatures.

The first thing you will want to do is paint the box blue. It helps if a shoe box is a plain white color on the inside. We taped black construction paper around the outside of the box, but you could paint that black if you want.

In other shadow boxes we’ve made, we have spray painted the entire shoe box black, both inside and out. This is a great backdrop for any scene. If you are creating sea creatures from the deep, it is appropriate for your water to be black, especially if you make a flashlight fish out of clay, and place an LED light inside!


Let the paint dry overnight, and then you will want to attach a plastic aquarium plant to the bottom of the box. Use clay to attach the plant to the box. (Make sure your shoe box is on its side when you decide where the ocean floor will be!)

Pour white school glue on the bottom of the scene, gluing around the plastic plant as well as the rest of the ocean floor. Pour sand on top of the glue and shake it off.


If you have some small plastic ocean creatures, you can hang them with white thread to the top of the box. I used strong packing tape, but you could also use duct tape.

We added a rock and some walruses to the top of the box, along with some dolphins splashing out of the water. (See the picture at the top of this post.)


You can also create ocean creatures out of clay. We make a manta ray, a hammerhead shark, a starfish, a whale, and an anemone. If you study and shape one sea creature per day, you can add to your collection. You can display your creatures on built-in cardboard shelves that you have painted blue or black to match your shadow box, hot gluing the shelf into place.


You can also make a simple ocean shadow box by spray painting a box black, adding a goldfish in a small fishbowl, and throwing seashells or any other ocean toys into the display.

Aquarium at Cannon Beach

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

aquarium-at-cannon-beachWe visited an aquarium at Cannon Beach called Seaside Aquarium. You can feed otters and see several octopuses, lots of anemones and other fish, and a petting zoo. It’s a small aquarium that has been open for over 70 years. It’s not really at Cannon Beach, but at a nearby town called Seaside. If you’re taking a vacation at Cannon Beach, it’s only about 15 minutes away. Two of my children loved feeling the sea stars and sea cucumbers with their fingers.

anemonesThe aquarium has one large room surrounded by glass aquariums. It has another room with the otters. In the main room you also have an area with a red octopus swimming around. What I’m saying is that if you expect a large elaborate aquarium, you will be disappointed, but if you expect something small, you will be delighted.

aquarium-at-cannon-beach-2The aquarium around the edges of the room is all salt water, with colorful eels, anemones, and shellfish. Rocks are covered with living creatures.

cannon-beach-aquariumMy son Stephen is my biologist, and he has always loved living creatures. He was glued like a magnet to the petting zoo area of the aquarium. He would watch how creatures responded to his touch.

aquariumHe also loved having a hermit crab tickle his fingers as it walked across his hand. He spent nearly an hour touching the beautiful and intriguing sea creatures. My daughter enjoyed touching the sea creatures as well.

hermit-crabMy other two sons preferred not to touch the sea creatures, but to look at them from a safe distance. They looked at the calm swaying of the tentacles of the sea anemones. They watched the fish swim around in the water.

cannon-beach-aquarium-2One tank had a lot of sea stars. The stars are sort of prickly to the touch, and their mouth is underneath. A sea urchin was also in the same aquarium, but it was so prickly that it felt like a pin cushion.

sea-starsHere is the fabulous octopus, the terrible monster of the deep. It reminds me of when we studied 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, where the octopus attacked a submarine!

octopusHere are some squid eggs. The long white sacks are filled with eggs, and the parent squid dies shortly after laying the eggs.

squid-eggsWe had a great time at the aquarium at Cannon Beach. The next day my daughter asked if we could go back because she loved it so much!

Fish Hatchery

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011


While studying underwater sea creatures, we decided to go on a tour of a local fish hatchery. When we arrived, a truck was being loaded with fish to dump into the local lakes. We saw a crane with a net filled with fish, dripping with excess water. The contents of the net were dumped into the main section of the truck, which was presumably filled with water.


We saw lots of cement containers filled with fish at different stages of growth. A tour guide even gave us a short lecture, pointing out the stages of a fish by showing us actual fish eggs at different stages of development.


As we were leaving, we saw a sign outside that showed a map of the fish hatchery. When we were driving away, I realized why people who go fishing need to pay for a fishing license. I thought fish were free, that they lived in lakes and rivers, and that if you were hungry, you could go catch a fish. I had no idea that expensive facilities provided the fish so that people could go fishing.


Squid Dissection

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011


Back when we were studying underwater sea creatures, we attended a squid dissection class at the local Children’s Museum. One squid was provided for each child. The squid was painted with black ink on one tray, then it was used as a rubber stamp to make an artistic banner made out of tissue paper. It left the print of the squid, almost as if it was a fossil.


After washing off the paint, the squid was examined under a magnifying glass and dissected by the instructor. Inside the squid was a beak and a long bone. The instructor pulled it out with much dramatic flair, to the amazement of the children. The ink pouch was removed, and the squid ink was used to write words on a piece of paper, using the squid bone as a quill.


A chart was shown to the children, so that they could see how the squid was actually a mollusk, similar to snails and oysters.


Other hands-on activities took place, including grabbing objects with a velcro disc, to represent the suckers on the ends of the squid arms. When the class was over, my children had a greater knowledge of squid, and so did I!

Here is a squid dissection similar to the one we did, so that you can see the different parts of the squid: