I was so excited when I saw the theme for this month. In elementary school, my daughter fell in love with sharks. Through her, I learned to love sharks, too.
This month’s list of books is packed with great choices. I read a few as I thought about activities that would be great to pair with them.
The whale shark is my personal favorite, so I had to read this one! It looks at dangers facing whale sharks. In doing so, it covers a lot of information about whale sharks and where and how they live.
World’s Weirdest Sharks
by Paul Mason
This book introduces readers to many different sharks. While the title says they are weird, I would describe them as amazing.
This book looks at why sharks are important and why we should care about them. It looks at sharks in food chains and the important roles they play in ecosystems.
This book is a celebration of sharks. Sharks are everywhere and have been around a really long time. They come in all sizes, have 7 senses, inspire new ideas, and help balance ecosystems. Like the title says, Sharks are Awesome!
Here are some ideas for exploring sharks further and for (hopefully) shifting the way people think about them.
Create a Shark Super-Hero
Sharks are often portrayed as sinister, scary things. It’s easy to cast them as villains. Challenge readers to create a shark super-hero based on the sharks they read about. They could pick a specific shark or draw on characteristics all sharks share for inspiration.
Here are some additional questions that might help spark ideas when creating a shark super-character.
- What are the special abilities the shark has? How would that make it an awesome super-hero?
- Who would be the shark’s arch-nemesis (villain)? Think about things that endanger sharks and other ocean creatures. How might a super-shark save the day?
- What if the super-hero was more like the X-Men or Batman? What would make that super-hero special and shark-like?
Once readers have imagined a shark super-hero, challenge them to create a story where the shark-hero saves the day. For those who prefer creating graphic novels, there are some shark drawing and graphic novel resources below to help.
Showcase an Amazing Shark
With all the amazing sharks out there and in these books, at least one had to spark each reader’s interest. Challenge them to share what they found amazing with their friends, family, and/or fellow classmates. One way to do this is with a promotional poster.
I might title my poster “It’s a Whale of a Shark!” Pretty corny, I know. It’s tough coming up with a catchy slogan, but it’s fun to try.
Here are some other things that would be good to include:
- A picture of the shark.
- How big the shark gets, perhaps compared with something of similar size. For instance, in World’s Weirdest Sharks, whale sharks are described as being as long as a double-decker bus and as heavy as 5 rhinos.
- Where the shark lives.
- What, and how much, it eats.
- Special abilities or features of the shark.
This could be converted into an aquarium-type classroom display, where different sharks are in “tanks” around the room. There are many ways to run with this idea.
I promised some resources for drawing sharks or creating graphic novels. Here they are:
Author/illustrator Jarrett Lerner has tons of drawing and graphic novel resources on his website, including some that feature sharks. https://jarrettlerner.com/activities
Author and former art teacher Kathy Barbro has quite a few pages on drawing sharks on her website Art Projects for Kids:
There are steps and a video for drawing a shark on Mocomi: https://mocomi.com/how-to-draw-a-shark
Author Lynn Plourde has a great graphic novel resource here: http://www.lynnplourde.com/uploads/31/Documents/2-CREATING-GRAPHIC-NOVEL-LINKS.pdf
Here is another blank template: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Free-Graphic-Novel-Comic-Book-Templates-598158
There are many more out there if you do a little searching.
Explore More Online
Several of the books talk about shark-tracking projects researchers use to gather information about different sharks. Some of these are available online for everyone to see. Check them out and see what kinds of sharks have been tracked closest to your home.
Ocearch – https://www.ocearch.org – Ocearch tracks many different species. Their main page shows animals they are tracking, with recent pings blinking. The different colored dots indicate different animals; sharks are blue. There are also yellow whales, green sea turtles, and more. Have fun exploring the different creatures and where they’ve been. Some of them travel truly astounding distances.
Conservation International has a whale shark tracker here: https://www.conservation.org/projects/whale-shark-tracker. There are lots of interesting videos and other things on their website, too, including a quiz to find out “What Kind of Shark Are You?” – https://www.conservation.org/quizzes/what-kind-of-shark-are-you.
Many aquariums also have lots of great information on their websites. Here are some of my favorites that feature sharks:
The Georgia Aquarium is (I believe) the only aquarium in the Western Hemisphere that has whale sharks. They’re amazing to see in person. They’ve got lots of info on their website, too. https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/animal/whale-shark
The National Aquarium in Baltimore has a web cam where you can try to see and identify sharks and other sea animals: https://aqua.org/Experience/live#btr. They have additional information about animals found there. Sharks in Shark Alley are listed here: https://aqua.org/Experience/Shark-Alley.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium also has a live shark cam: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams/shark-cam. At the bottom of that page and around the site there are links to stories, animals, and more that are worth exploring.
The Shedd Aquarium also has lots of information about sharks on their website. The Wild Reef’s a good place to start, then see where your fancy takes you: https://www.sheddaquarium.org/exhibits/wild-reef.
I hope you have fun exploring sharks. Perhaps soon, you’ll even be writing a love poem to sharks!
Janet Slingerland loves learning about science, history, nature, and (well) everything, which she then turns into a book. She regularly visits aquariums with her family and has even touched a shark or two – or in the case of this picture, a ray. She was able to write about whale sharks in her book 12 Epic Animal Adventures. To find out more about Janet and her books, check out her website: janetsbooks.com