The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 8

Notes and Lesson Plans

Ecology: The Ocean
updated November 20, 2017

Recorded here is my own personal collection of articles, resources, favorite links, teaching ideas, and lesson plans. It encompasses many years, from the very beginning of my experience studying and learning about Waldorf to the present time. People from all around the world visit my site and recommend it to others. Welcome!

This site records my journey. I hope my honesty is encouraging and helps break down some barriers that may prevent people from trying Waldorf methods. Because this is an ongoing site documenting my curriculum planning and ideas, some materials are more Waldorf-y than others. Please feel free to take what you like and leave the rest.

The Ocean

Mission Statement - Consulting Services - Lending Library

Ecology is a wide-ranging topic and you'll need to choose one particular theme to focus on. We chose The Ocean and I'm really excited about it! Here are my notes as I plan this block.

Pinterest - Renee Schwartz
My curated collection of visuals! Browse sample main lesson book pages, watercolor paintings, chalkboard drawings, etc. for Ecology.

Essential Documentary Film

A Plastic Ocean

Booklist: Suggested Resources

Activity One:

Activity Two:

    read Galapagos George by Jean Craighead George, talk about adaptation

    create the Ocean Zones in a Jar -- new and improved notes about this in my blog post!

    gather thoughts from the class about what animals might live in each zone, consider how the zones are different (darker, colder, more water pressure as you go farther down), introduce the idea of vertical migration in the water column

Activity Three:

Activity Four:

    Melting Ice Science Experiment with Salt and Liquid Watercolors activity

      exploring the idea of changing the temperature at which something freezes since we read about animals with antifreeze in their blood in the Polar biome nomenclature for Antarctica

      I froze water in two containers: a Pyrex loaf pan and a Pyrex pie plate

    also... find two freezer-safe containers and fill both with water except add rubbing alcohol to one of the containers along with the water, place them both in the freezer at the same time, see which one freezes first

      we used some IPA that was tinted blue; not only was the tinted rubbing alcohol handy since it was leftover from Ocean Zones in a Jar activity but it ensures that the kids can tell them apart and no ones tries to eat the alcohol-ice

      Fun Fact: rubbing alcohol was an old-fashioned automotive antifreeze

    read Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea

    plan art installation for Ocean Zones, assign children to different zones, have them pick animal(s) they want to portray, brainstorm art materials and techniques based on the animal and plant life that interests them

      NOTE: Immediately teach students to begin to organize their notes by color coding the zones. I put out different colors of construction paper and had students write the names of animals they were intrigued by on the correct color of paper. That way, we could see if all zones were covered and we could begin to organize our art ideas for the zones as well as for the calendar project.

      I wrote the common name for the zone, the scientific name for the zone, and the zone depth in meters on top of each piece of paper.

      Paper Color Common Name Scientific Name Depth in Meters
      Orange Sunlight Epipelagic 0 - 200 m
      Yellow Twilight Mesopelagic 200 - 1000 m
      Green Midnight Bathypelagic 1000 - 4000 m
      Blue Abyss Abyssopelagic 4000 - 6000 m
      Brown Trench Hadalpelagic 6000 m and below

    also have available Scary Creatures of the Deep for research

    look at An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed
    taste sea vegetables

    • Dulse Palmaria palmata (Atlantic Ocean)
      do not eat -- read California Warning on label -- discuss why this might be
    • Nori Pyropia yezoensis (Pacific Ocean)
    • Wakame Undaria pinnatifida (Pacific Ocean)
    • Kombu Laminaria japonica (Pacific Ocean)

    start Pagoo as a read aloud story

Activity Five:

    art projects!
    large museum exhibits for the Parent Expo... and small art for the 2018 calendar project

    explain calendar art project, begin to make art

      Front Cover (starfish on newsprint)
      July (marine snow on black paper)
      December (worms on black paper)

    start dyeing coffee filters for coral reef

    start dyeing cotton swabs for coral reef by dipping tips in FW Fluorescent Artists Acrylic Ink, Neon, Set of 6

    start posters for museum: Sponges (sunlight zone)

    things I planned but didn't get to:
    Salt Water Density Straw activity from Steve Spangler

      if you want to make a rainbow of colors, 1 tsp salt in cup #1 (dye red), 2 tsp salt in cup #2 (dye orange), 3 tsp salt in cup #3 (dye yellow), 4 tsp salt in cup #4 (dye green), 5 tsp of salt in cup #5 (dye blue), 6 tsp of salt in cup #6 (dye violet)

    read The Drop in My Drink, review water cycle, the Dead Sea, the Great Salt Lake

    NOAA answers the question, Why is the Ocean Salty?

Activity Six:

Activity Seven:

Activity Eight:

Blank Scrapbook Calendar Project

    An idea I'm really excited about in lieu of -- or in addition to -- hosting a Parent Expo!

    Every year my students use blank wall calendars to create holiday gifts for their parents. They write in the month names, week names, and dates, as well as creating the art for each month. It is always fun to present parents with these handmade gifts!

    One year we did the entire Timeline of Life as a wall calendar, representing all of the time from the creation of the earth (January 1) until present day (December 31) TO SCALE. Each day was equal to approximately 13 million years. The artwork month by month showed what the earth looked like and what new organisms had evolved. It was so fun, and it gave the kids such a clear understanding idea of how things changed radically over time.

    This year I decided to use a similar concept for Ecology. Each child can create a 2018 wall calendar showing how the ocean world changes as you go deeper and deeper in the water. It won't be hard to duplicate some of the most successful art projects and make extra art for the calendars. The art simply needs to fit on a 12 x 12 inch scrapbook page and be flat.

    As it turns out, the deepest part of the ocean -- the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench -- is believed to be 36,070 feet. With 12 months and each piece of art being 12 inches tall, we will have 144 inches of height. The math is easy; our scale will be 1 inch = 250 feet.

    I will make the sample artwork for each month and we can lay the examples all down on the floor to show the entire depth of the ocean in a 12 foot high display. It will just look like one of the Expo displays. Then after the parents walk through the entire Expo (December 14 or December 21), the children can present them with their calendars. And they will find out that they each have their own personal copy of our trip to the bottom of the sea!

    Just as with The Deep, which has a tick-mark next to each organism's photograph showing how deep each is found (with the scale printed on the inside front cover and inside back cover flaps), we can put a tick-mark along the lefthand margin of the art pages to show the correct depth of each animal. And... empty squares on the calendar which are not used for dates can hold interesting facts about the animal. I'm in love with this idea!!!!

    Here are the Ocean Layers and a few art ideas I came up with. The ones we used for the calendar are written in all caps:

    Front Cover
    Creep into the Deep

    December 2017 - sunlight and blue sky
    explain concept of calendar, explain calendar scale

      cloud stencil

    January 2018 - ocean surface to 3,000 feet below
    Epipelagic Zone - "Sunlight Zone" - 0 to 200 m - 0 to 656 ft

      sea turtles (wet on dry watercolor, Rick Tan)

      also the seal (wet on dry watercolor, Live Education!)

      also the school of fish (colored pencil, Live Education!)

      poster project: sponges

      art display: seaweed (use clear pushpins and lengths of Pomp-a-Doodle pompom yarn draped in large swaths from the ceiling -- I used the blue "Shoreline" yarn as well as the white yarn, which we dyed green)

      art display: coral reef (stacks of dyed coffee filters and cotton swabs arranged to be a coral reef and placed in front of a large picture window, with plenty of colorful fish drawn on the window with window crayons)

    February 2018 - 3,000 to 6,000 feet below
    Mesopelagic Zone - "Twilight Zone" - 200 to 1000 m - 656 to 3281 ft

    March 2018 - 6,000 to 9,000 feet below
    Bathypelagic Zone - "Midnight Zone" - 1000 to 4000 m - 3281 to 13,124 ft

      Ping-Pong Tree Sponge - Found at depths of around 9,000 feet, the ping-pong tree is a carnivorous sponge that can grow up to 20 inches in height. While they may not look dangerous, they are covered in tiny hair hooks which catch any small creature passing by. Then, slowly, cells in the sponge move towards the prey and digest it."

      also the green bomber worm

      violet sea cucumber swimming video

      also the battles between sperm whales and giant squid

    April 2018 - 9,000 to 12,000 feet below
    Bathypelagic Zone cont.

      Dumbo Octopus - "The ear-like fins of this octopus have earned it the name "Dumbo." The octopus lives at extreme depths of 10,000 to 11,000 feet, searching for worms and other crustaceans at the seafloor."

      also the krill (from Down Down Down)

    May 2018 - 12,000 to 15,000 feet below
    Abyssopelagic Zone - "The Abyss" - 4000 to 6000 m - 13,124 to 19,686 ft


      also the Abyssal Plain and the sea lily (from Down Down Down)

    June 2018 - 15,000 to 18,000 feet below
    Abyssopelagic Zone cont.

      Enypniastes - "Enypniastes is a deep sea cucumber which leaves nothing to the imagination and lives up to 16,400 feet down. The red area is the animal's mouth. Around it are tentacles, which scoop up edible mud from the seafloor. From there, well, you can see."

    July 2018 - 18,000 to 21,000 feet below
    Hadalpelagic Zone - "The Trench" - 6000 m to the bottom of the deepest parts of the ocean

      splatter paint "light buttermilk" paint with old toothbrushes and wire screen on black paper

    August 2018 - 21,000 to 24,000 feet below
    Hadalpelagic Zone cont.

    September 2018 - 24,000 to 27,000 feet below
    Hadalpelagic Zone cont.

      deepest known living fish - "Setting the record at 8,143 meters, (26,872 feet) was a completely unknown variety of snailfish, which stunned scientists when it was filmed several times during seafloor experiments. The white translucent fish had broad wing-like fins and an eel-like tail, and slowly glided over the bottom."

    October 2018 - 27,000 to 30,000 feet below
    Hadalpelagic Zone cont.

      deep-sea holothurian AKA sea cucumber

    November 2018 - 30,000 to 33,000 feet below
    Hadalpelagic Zone cont.

      Hirondellea Gigas - "These shrimp-like crustaceans live as far down as it gets. Up to two inches long, swarms are found at depths of 30,000 feet, where food is quite scarce. Scientists found that they instead feast on tree and plant debris that occasionally make it to the bottom. Their guts produce special enzymes capable of digesting what other fish see as trash."

    December 2018 - 33,000 to 36,000 feet below
    Hadalpelagic Zone cont.

Blog posts from when I was teaching this topic:

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