Moon snails are excited to be the first animals collected for the 2012-2013 school year. They’re busy checking out their new home, and making acquaintances that will become year-long friends. It’s amazing watching them glide majestically and at great speeds across the sand, avoiding each other’s foot and changing direction when they’re in danger of colliding.
The best time to search for sea animals at the tidal flats is, of course, at low tide, when the ocean’s water is shallow and has slipped away from the shore. However, if you wait for a spring tide, when the Moon is either full or new, the low tide will be extremely low, uncovering even more of the sandy bottom than at other low tides. This is because during spring tides, the Moon and the Sun line up with the Earth, causing their gravitational pull on the ocean’s water to be extremely strong. (The name spring tides has nothing to do with the Spring season, even though the name might indicate that it does.) The worst time to look for sea animals on the tidal flats is during neap tides, when the Moon is quartered, and the Sun and Moon are at right angles to each other. With the Sun and Moon being perpendicular to each other, their gravitational pulls cancel each other out, and the tides are weak.
We are very excited to learn that “The Bumpy, Lumpy Horseshoe Crab” book has just reached the Amazon Best Seller Rank of #92 in children’s books about marine life. Thank you so much to everyone who has purchased a book. Enjoy!!
Most teachers choose to study marine life in the Springtime, with Summer on it’s way. But did you know that the Fall is an even better time to learn about the fascinating coastal marine life? As educators, we all know how important it is to activate prior knowledge and background information when teaching students. In the Spring, the ocean and beach are distant memories for many students, especially the really young ones. But in the Fall, most students have spent at least a day or two at the beach while on Summer break, leaving them with a fresh impression of what the sea is like. They may have found some sea animals or shells while walking along the water’s edge. This creates invaluable building blocks for teachers to use as a foundation, making additional information more meaningful and better retained.
And if a visit to the tidal flats or tidepools is on the field trip agenda, the Fall is full of sunny, warm days, and the ocean water is at its warmest in the Fall. Planning a trip to the shore in the Spring can be tricky, with many cool, raw days, and the ocean water usually topping off somewhere in the 50 degree range.
Therefore if there’s any wiggle room in the timing of your curriculum, you may want to consider sea and marine life as a Fall unit. There will still be plenty of time to pick apples and carve pumpkins, and it could be cleverly integrated with a Christopher Columbus or Thanksgiving theme. Did you know that Pilgrims often ate lobsters when food was scarce, and even fed them to their pigs at times? Did you also know that Native Americans taught the new settlers how to grind horseshoe crab shells to make fertilizer for their gardens? As you can see, the Fall is the perfect time to study about coastal marine life!