During Reading Activities

Chapter 11 - 15

Basking Sharks

The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow moving sea. - Rudyard Kipling

Basking Sharks appear to bask in the light of the sun near the surface of the water. They swim lazily along with their mouth open, gathering food. Every hour the shark siphon 400,000 gallons of water through its' gills.This is similar to the method that some whales use to collect food.

Anticipation Guide

The following is an anticipation guide. This document can be read to or by the students at the beginning of chapter 11. First, have the students answer the questions on their own. Then pair them up to discuss the answers and talk about the differences that they may have. Finally pull the class together and discuss the results to each sentence.



How well do you know sharks?

Decide which of these statements is true and which is false. The answers that will be revealed may surprise you.

1. Most sharks are man-eaters.
2. Sharks have no bones.
3. Sharks sink when they stop swimming.
4. Shark skin is soft and smooth.
5. Sharks are good to eat.
6. Sharks rarely lose their teeth.
7. Sharks cannot live in fresh water.
8. Sharks are not fish.
9. Sharks do not use their eyes in hunting for food.
10. Sharks eat each other.
11. More people are killed by bee stings than by shark attacks
12. Sharks may help us find a cure for cancer.
Are you a selachiphobic?


1. False. Of the estimated 350 species of sharks, only 5 to 10 percent are considered possible man-eaters.
2. True. Sharks' skeletons are made of cartilage, like the flexible material in our ears and noses.
3. True. Sharks sink when they stop swimming because they lack a swim bladder that bony fish have.
4. False. Shark skin is covered with denticles that give the skin a rough, sand papery texture.
5. True. Americans do not eat much shark, but people in other countries enjoy its swordfish-like flavor.
6. False. Every time a shark bites, some teeth are lost. New ones move forward within about 24 hours to replace them.
7. False. Several kinds of sharks, especially bull sharks, spend long periods in fresh water. Sharks have been found up to 2,000 miles upriver.
8. False. Sharks are fish, but not bony fishes. Sharks, skates, and rays make up a separate class of fishes known as elasmobranchs, or cartilaginous fish.
9. False. Sharks do use their eyes in hunting for food within 50 to 100 feet, but other senses are more important for helping them locate prey.
10. True. Sharks will attack and eat each other, or anything else in their path, during a feeding frenzy.
I 1. True. Shark attacks on humans are very rare. You are about fifty times more likely to be killed by a bee sting than by a shark.
12. True. Sharks rarely get sick. Scientists are looking for a substance that makes sharks resistant to disease, in the hope of applying it to preventing disease in humans.
A selachiphobic is someone who fears sharks.

(Cerullo, M. (1993). Sharks challengers of the deep. Cobblehill Books: NY, NY.)

Whale Communication

Whales use sound (Echo - location) to communicate to each other. Whales are capable of hearing extremely high pitched sounds. Water is a good conductor for the passage of sound, and it travels well. Some whales have a highly developed sense of sound.

If possible play a tape of whales songs. Talk about the different reasons that a whale would communicate and make a list. Which sounds that you hear on the tape might stand for the items on the list? Ask the student to narrate or commentate on a section of music. Discuss with the students that in order to communicate the whales must have uniform signals for each of these reasons that was discussed. These messages must be understood when both sent and received in order to have communication.

Whale Jumps and Movements

Logging - Sleep floating near the surface
Flippering - Long flippers in the air - waving
Lob Tailing - Raises tail out of the water and splashes it down
Breaching - When a whale leaps from the water
Sky Hop - A whale slowly rises out of the water, head first
Chin Breach - A whale jumping out of the water, and lands with a belly flop

A teacher can pull out the dish pan and model whale again, and demonstrate these movements for the students. The children will enjoy learning the language and recreating the movements themselves.

Food Chain

Talk about the food chain in the ocean. Plankton is an important element in ocean water. Talk about how the sun plays an important role in the stabilization of the food chain. What other food chain links are at the bottom of the food chain? Talk about the necessity for plant life in the food chain. How many links are there in an oceanic food chain? The answers are endless. Have the students create a food chain. Have them draw pictures depicting an ocean food chain on pieces of paper that can be glued together to create rings that can be linked to be a chain.

Dolphin Anatomy

The linked picture and the following descriptions can be used to teach the children about the anatomy of a dolphin.

Dolphin Anatomy

(Lilly, J. (1961). Man and dolphin. Doubleday and Company: Garden City, NY.)

Tide Experiment

What the tide does

Tide is movement.
The tides are regular.
High tide comes after low tide.
Low tide comes after high tide.
The tides are controlled by the moon and the sun,
but mostly the moon.
The ties will keep on going, day after day
and night after night, for billions of years.

Using a 13 x 9 pan, recreate a gentle steeping funneled ocean bed using modeling clay. Fill in the bottom of the ocean with water. Explain that the draw of the moon creates the tides. Slowly tip the pan so that the water moves further up the shore. In the Bay of Fundy in spring there can be 50 foot tides, that's as much as a 6 story building.

The sun, though big, is too far away to have much effect on the earth's tides. The sun has the greatest effect when the sun and moon are lined up with the earth. Mostly, the moon pulls the earths tides. When the sun is aligned with the moon there is a high tide or a spring tide. When they are not aligned there is a low tide also called a neap tide. When there is a full moon, the tides are greater, and low tides get lower. When there is half a moon the tides are small, when there is a sliver of the sun disappearing, it is a sign of big spring tides.

(Kinney, C. & J. (1966). What does the tide do? Young Scott Books: NY, NY.)

Daily Log of Tide Times from the Newspaper

Create a log to last through a moon's cycle. In the log the class can chart the changes in the tides as they relate to the cycle of the moon. Get the information for the log from the local newspaper on selected dates throughout the month. Make sure to check and log in various phases of the moon's cycle. Do you see the patterns mentioned above in the Tide Experiment?

During Reading Table of Contents
Activities for Chapter 1 - 5
Activities for Chapter 6 - 10
After Reading Activities


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