Humphrey the Lost Whale

All posts tagged Humphrey the Lost Whale

Humphrey the Lost Whale, by Wendy Tokuda

Published November 3, 2015 by Dagmar

humphrey whaleI love to take my first graders on journeys around the world on library planes, boats and rocket ships.

Each year, I teach them about whales, and we read the fabulous book, The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson. I promised them last week that we would get on our boat again and visit Humphrey, the humpback whale.

This is the true story of Humphrey the Lost Whale, a humpback whale that swam under the Golden Gate Bridge one day in 1985, right into San Francisco Bay. As wonderful a sight as it was, having a humpback whale as big as a city bus right there in the Bay, there was trouble ahead. Instead of swimming back to the ocean, Humphrey went the wrong way, through the Delta and up the Sacramento River.  The Sacramento River is fresh water. Whales need salt water to live.  Even more troubling, Humphrey squeezed himself under a very small bridge to a place in the river where the water was shallow and narrow.

Everyone banded together, scientists, the Coast guard and citizens. They made loud noises underwater to scare Humphrey back down the river to the Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Humphrey, tired, lonely and hungry headed back down the river, only to stop in front of the small bridge.  He couldn’t get through it. So, once again, his rescuers worked to help him, digging a bigger space for him under the bridge. Humphrey saw the hole and started to swim through, only to get suck in the pilings under the bridge. With a twist of his body, he got through the bridge and moved back toward San Francisco Bay and finally the ocean.

Humphrey came back to the San Francisco Bay several times after his dramatic rescue, one time requiring another rescue. This book combines just the right amount of suspense for young students. My students were waiting with baited breath to see if Humphrey could be saved and all cheered when he made it to the ocean again.



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.