books about lost whales

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Lesson idea: Whales, Oceans and The Snail and the Whale

Published November 3, 2013 by Dagmar

whale and the snailThis is a lesson I’d wish I’d done earlier in the year, because the book I chose to feature in this lesson is about a snail who is itching to travel and see the world. That’s just the sentiment that I want to inspire in my own students.

This week in our library journey, my first graders and I became whales and traveled the world’s oceans.  We finished our trip by reading the fabulous book, The Snail and the Whale by one of my favorite author’s, Julia Donaldson, author of Room on the Broom.

photo(5)It was very fun to become whales.  Using the Oceans Alive of the Blastoff! Readers series, published by Bellwether Media, we learned about whales.  Oceans Alive We held up our arms with our hands together like whale tails and swam by moving our big whale tails.  We learned that our hands were called flukes and loved breaching and blowing air out of our blow holes.  We put out our arms and learned that whales steer and stop with their fins.

If time permits, this is also a perfect time to learn about oceans.  Using another set from the Blastoff! Reader seriesphoto(6), Learning about the Earth, we learned that oceans cover most of the earth, that ocean water is salty, that there are different kinds of coasts and talked about the concepts of shallow and deep and different animals that live in the ocean.

In the Snail and the Whale, a snail with an “itchy foot” wants to travel through the world’s oceans and decides to hitch a ride on a whale.  Together, they travel until one day, the whale gets confused by motor boats in a bay and is beached on a shore.  The quick thinking snail goes to a school and leaves a message on a classroom chalkboard, “Save the Whale!”.  Quickly, students, teachers and the whole town come to save the whale.  The whale is saved.  Together the Snail and the Whale return to the rock where they found each other only to take off again with all the snails on the whale’s tail, ready to see the world.

Update: This year, I used books but added a second week of whale books with a great, suspenseful book called Humphrey the Lost Whale, the True Story of Humphrey, a humpback whale who swam under the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco Bay and up the Sacramento River in the 1980s.  My students absolutely loved this book by Wendy Tokuda.  Another companion book is Baby Beluga, the “song” book by Raffi.  We read and sing Baby Beluga every year in kindergarten. so it’s nice to bring it back while we’re learning about whales.