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We’ve been doing some science here and there this summer. When we find something that interests us and that we want to learn more about, we do some research and some experimenting. Our resource of choice has been the Christian Kids Explore series from Bright Ideas Press. Our friends at Bright Ideas gave us the series to try out this summer and I’m so glad they did! We’ve been learning a lot!
Last week, we emptied our bag of shells that we collected on our recent beach vacation to the Gulf Shores area in Alabama. The kids noticed all the different colors, shapes and sizes. “I wonder what kind of animal makes these?” was a frequent question.
Before our trip, the kids had questions about saltwater. So, we read a lesson in Christian Kids Explore Biology about freshwater vs. saltwater. I remembered there was, also, a mollusks lesson which incorporated sea shell identification. Perfect!
Learning About Mollusks And Their Shells
As we read about the Phylum Mollusca together, the kids started automatically sorting the shells into groups (or classes) – bivalves, gastropods and cephalopods.
Gastropods are the largest classes of mollusks. This class includes snails, slugs, whelks, and conches. Most gastropod shells have visible growth lines. The kids immediately made the connection to the growth lines of trees. Making connections like these help kids understand concepts rather than simply memorizing facts.
The fact that Class Cephalopoda contains the organisms that make the spiral shells we found AND octopus and squid amazed the kids!
As the kids examined at the bivalve shells we got from the beach, my daughter noticed that they were just like the fresh water mussels we see in my parents lake. “They are the same! We have bivalves in Illinois, too!” I love light bulb moments.
Testing Our Knowledge
To test our knowledge, my daughter is making the Shell Identification Game from the Christian Kids Explore Biology textbook. Our kids learn so well by incorporating games. They have so much fun that I hate to tell them they are learning!
Our time at the beach was very relaxing and very educational. It opened our eyes to a whole new world of creatures and natural forces – so much to be curious about! The Christian Kids Explore series broke down our study into small pieces that the kids could understand and test further on their own. We love the hands-on nature of this curriculum.
Sea Shell Links
- SeaShells.org – Lots of information on shell identification, beachcombing, shell collecting, and more.
- How Are Sea Shells Created? – Scientific American
- Sand Dollar Unit Study Links
Ocean Science Links
- In The Lab Report, sponsored by Apologia Science, learn how waves affect the shape and appearance of sandy beaches.
- Sea Turtle Unit Study Links
- Tips For An Educational Beach Vacation
- Shark Unit Study