Shark Week Stories & Crafts

It's that time of year that the Discovery Channel has turned into a national holiday: Shark Week.  Even if you're not that into sharks, it's difficult to avoid getting swept up by the annual excitement.  Dive into the fun with these shark stories and learning activities.

In Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton & Tom Lichtenheld, a fierce, underwater predator toy goes to battle against a tough, smoke-billowing train toy in competitions ranging from seesawing to pie-eating.  Barton's bestselling story will hold students' attention while the playful text introduces examples of pun and onomatopoeia.  Visit the Shark vs. Train website to find printable activities and other resources to go with the book.
Then read I'm a Shark by Bob Shea which uses humorous dialogue between the narrator and an almost-fearless shark to tell a story about bravery.
For more oceanic fun, read Down at the Seaweed Cafe by Robert Perry & Greta Guzek. This book's rhythmic rhyme will entrance little listeners as they learn about underwater life.
Although sharks are the biggest fish in the sea, find out what is bigger than a shark in I'm The Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry.  In this story a squid compares himself to the sea creatures around him.

Shark Sculpture made from reclaimed hubcaps by Ptolemy Elrington - Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, 2012

After story time, allow students to explore Surprising Sharks from London's Natural History Museum and Discovery Kids: Sharks to learn more about sharks, their place in the ecosystem, and how human actions affect their health and safety.  Visit Ocean Portal to read about sharks' 3D sense of smell.  Then let students read and discuss the article, "How Kids Can Help Sharks" by The Humane Society.

After students have gathered some background information about sharks, they can present what they have learned.  Visit Welcome to Room 36 to find great ideas for comparing and contrasting sharks and whales.

Students can also make a simple shark hat using card stock and a few other basic supplies.  This shark hat craft idea was shared on Susan's Site after her trip to the Georgia Aquarium.  Students can review all their new shark knowledge and develop fine motor skills while making this craft.

To re-create this hands-on shark activity, you will need two sheets of grey card stock, scissors, tape, a ruler and something to write with.
  1. Cut three strips of paper, 2" x 11"
  2. Tape two strips end-to-end in order to create one long (~21") strip.
  3. If the hat is for a child, tape the other ends of the long strip together to make a paper ring.  If the hat is for a big kid or adult, wait for the next step before closing the ring.
  4. Attach the third paper strip perpendicular to the taped seam of the long strip.  Then attach the other end of the short strip to the other seam of the paper ring.  If this hat is for an adult, close the long strip by attaching the ends to the edge of the short strip as shown in the photo on the right.  Now you have the basic form for the hat. 
  5. Draw the two fin shapes onto the remaining scraps of card stock.  Be sure to include a small tab of paper that you will be able to fold over in order to attach the fin to the hat bands.
  6.  Cut out fins, fold tabs and attach to hat bands using tape.
  7. Use a marker to add eyes, teeth and gills.

After all this learning, your students will have worked up a shark-sized appetite.  Visit How To Garnish to learn how to make a healthy and impressive banana shark snack.
Or, carry the theme into lunch or snack time by using Fred and Friends Fish Stix to make tasty shark tail skewers that won't harm any actual sharks.

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