Welcome to another Wacky Workshops project – ocean facts and crafts to celebrate World Ocean Day (June 8).
Whether you’re looking for treasure, the craziest creatures, the world’s longest mountain range, beautiful waterfalls or just air to breathe, the ocean has it all.
The ocean covers around 71 per cent of the Earth’s surface. It produces about 70 per cent of our oxygen and holds around 95 per cent of all life on earth.
The ocean also holds an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic, with almost 300,000 tons of plastic floating on the surface. It is predicted that plastic will outnumber fish by 2050.
Plastic pollution causes the deaths of more than 100,000 marine mammals, and one million seabirds every year.
Teaching kids about the magic, beauty and absolute necessity for life of the ocean is vital to make them appreciate the world’s largest treasure.
Explaining the dangers to oceans and sea life and then, ultimately, to us, helps children realise how important their actions are to help save the world.
However, throw a bunch of facts at them and they will soon lose interest and let their minds wander to the latest online game.
That’s why I love to combine arts and crafts with information.
The formula is simple. Excitement/interest + creation with a few vital facts thrown in = fascination and respect for the subject and the urge to find solutions to problems associated with it.
First, get them excited about the subject by discovering a fact that will truly interest them.
OCEAN FACTS AND CRAFTS – SHARKS
Is your child interested in sharks? It may fascinate them to learn that more people are injured by elephants, bees, and even lightning each year than are hurt by sharks. In fact, though shark bites have been in the news a lot recently, attacks by these fearsome fish actually decreased in 2020 for the third year in a row. They fell to 57 unprovoked attacks worldwide last year compared to 64 bites in 2019. We kill between 20-100 million sharks every year through fishing activities.
Have your child create a shark picture or follow these instructions to make a smiling shark. While they are creating, you could explain that of the more than 500 species of shark we know of about 80 per cent are unable to hurt people or rarely encounter them. Only 32 species have been known to bite humans.
OCEAN FACTS AND CRAFTS – IMAGINATION
Does your child have a wonderful imagination? It may interest them to learn that scientists estimate that a huge 91 per cent of ocean species are yet to be classified. New discoveries are being made every day and around 2000 new species are discovered each year. Humans have explored less than five per cent of the ocean yet 94 per cent of life on earth lives in the sea.
Have them imagine and draw their own ocean creature. You can help spark their imaginations by showing them some of these bizarre ocean creatures. What else could they imagine seeing under the sea? When you consider just a mouthful of seawater can contain millions of bacterial cells, hundreds of thousands of phytoplankton and tens of thousands of zooplankton and our oceans cover more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface – that’s a lot of discovery. For younger children, read on for an easy fish and fun, dancing jellyfish craft.
OCEAN FACTS AND CRAFTS – TREASURE HUNTER
Perhaps your child is a treasure hunter. Well, the ocean is full of treasure. It’s estimated the ocean contains 20 million tons of gold. It also contains more historic artefacts than in all of the world’s museums.
Have your child make a diorama, complete with a treasure chest (treasure chest template here) or a big pirate ship (instructions below) sailing the high seas in search of treasure. You can tell them how there are around 1000 shipwrecks off the Florida Keys (USA) alone and that underwater museums are being created around the world.
OCEAN FACTS AND CRAFTS – FOR THE ARTIST
If your child is a budding artist who loves to paint, it will interest them to know that the ocean’s colour is a result of the water-absorbing colours in the red part of the light spectrum.
The water acts as a filter, leaving behind colours in the blue part of the spectrum. Light bouncing off floating sediments and particles in the water also helps the ocean take on green, red, or other hues sometimes.
Have them paint a beautiful seascape and play with mixing colours to create the desired effect. WACKY TIP: to tone down some of the ‘blueness’ (saturation) from store-bought paints and make the colour more natural, mix the blue with a little of its complementary colour (orange) until they have the desired effect. Remind them to add some other colours as the ocean’s colour is never just flat blue. Little swipes of black can depict the ocean depths while specks of white represent the foam on waves. This is a great project to experiment with colours and brush strokes.
It’s a given that children have more interest in subjects when they can enjoy a hands-on experience. That’s why combining the information with arts and crafts is such an effective teaching method. Once they have a true interest in the subject and start to really care about it, you can explain some of the problems.
An estimated 7 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans each year. Even plastic that is dumped on land can find its way into the oceans by being washed into stormwater drains and rivers that eventually lead to the ocean. Even worse, the plastics often end up inside marine life. One study found that fish in the northern Pacific swallow between 12,000 and 24,000 tons of plastic every year. Microplastics can then make their way into our bodies when we eat seafood.
It’s important to follow up this information with stories of hope by letting children know what’s being done to help fix this problem.
Remember when I mentioned mountains and waterfalls? It’s hard to imagine they exist underwater, but this is all part of the ocean’s magic.
Earth’s longest chain of mountains, the Mid-Ocean Ridge, is almost entirely beneath the ocean, stretching across a distance of 65,000 kilometres.
The Earth’s largest known waterfall sits between Greenland and Iceland. However, it is underwater. It is a waterfall with 75 million cubic feet of water.
The ocean even contains rivers and lakes. When salt water and hydrogen sulfide combine, it becomes denser than the rest of the water around it, enabling it to form a lake or river that flows beneath the sea.
It’s thought that between 70 and 80 per cent of the oxygen we breathe is produced by marine plants, nearly all of which are marine algae. Who’d have thought the humble seaweed could be so important?
Too much sunlight can damage the algae that live inside coral in shallow water. To protect the algae, which are a main source of sustenance for the coral, the corals fluoresce. This creates proteins that act as a sort of sunscreen for the algae.
EASY OCEAN CRAFTS FOR THE LITTLE ONES
FOR THE BIGGER KIDS
PIRATE SHIP INSTRUCTIONS
- Cardboard box sized to suit the size of the hull you want. (I use shoeboxes as they are a good size and the perfect shape)
- 2 x thin pieces of dowel for the masts.
- Cardboard rolls covered in white paper for the sails – they should vary in size from smallest to largest.
- Cut a ‘v’ shape from one short end of the box. This will form the front of your ship.
- Squish the edges of the v-shaped gap together and staple or glue to form the hull shape.
- Create the curve to the ship by cutting a curved line along each long side of the box
- Cut circular holes along the long end of each side of the box, towards the top, for the oar or cannon holes.
- Create a figurehead for the front of the ship. (A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the bow of ships, generally of a design related to the name or role of a ship). Glue this to the front of your ship.
- Paint the hull black.
- Glue the lengths of dowel to the bottom of the inside of the ship for the masts. I usually use hot glue for this step and often anchor the dowel in corks or lids to give the masts extra stability.
- Poke holes in the cardboard rolls and push them onto the dowel, starting with the longest and finishing with the smallest at the top.
- Create little flags from paper to top the masts.
Happy crafting and have a gleeful week, Tamuria.