Homeschool Shark Unit Ideas for Ocean and Marine Biology Lesson Plans

Learning happens all the time, as we all know and the Summer is no different. Another reason we choose year-round homeschooling is because we enjoy traveling quite a bit during the regular school year. When we take a few weeks off in the middle of September or November, we still ‘do school’ via field trips at the aquariums or museums in the cities we visit. This works well when we incorporate unit studies throughout the year or add activities like this Choose Your Own Adventure Ocean Pop-up Book that incorporates writing and a craft in an engaging and fun way.

Since we take time off in the Winter, Fall and Spring, we choose to homeschool year round and do relaxed learning in the Summer. This is actually perfect for lowcountry living because often it is just too hot to be out and about in June and July; staying indoors is preferred.

This will be the first year that we incorporate Shark Week in to our learning so I wanted to share a few of the ways we’ll be jumping in!

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Amanda Bennett Unit Study – Sensational Sharks

I’ve been using since I first started homeschooling my older kids back in 2007; we’ve done several of them find them to be a great way to learn about specific topoics. Unit Studies capture kids attention and can be used with children of varied ages at one time!

Sensational Sharks Unit Study teaches kids about the many senses of sharks, their anatomy and they way they breath. Over the course of a week, students learn about a new shark each day with engaging text and extension activities. The Senstational Sharks Unit Study Discovering the many senses of sharks is available year round on the Amanda Bennett website. 

Learning About Sharks at the Aquarium

Obviously visiting an aquarium is the perfect place to see and learn about the sharks you’re studying during shark week. We’re fortunate in the lowcountry to have the Homeschool Explorer’s Club which offers four themed classes throughout the school year to homeschooling families in Charleston. Luckily this year, on September 6th, the South Carolina Aquarium Homeschool Explorer’s Club theme is “Jaw-some Sharks” 

Not only will studens learn conservation efforts and how to protect sharks, they’ll meet some of the sharks that frequently inhabit the Carolina Coast. Several classes are offered for various age groups, aquarium staff answer questions, present information and offer hands-on activities for students to learn more about the subject of the day. Learn more about the South Carolina Aquarium Homeschool Explorers Club and determine if it’s a good fit for your family!

Additionally, the Shark Lagoon at the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is a great place to visit. We’ll be heading back there around Thanksgiving and intend to take pictures, learn a lot more and add the information to our homeschool marine biology binder!

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies offers a walkup discount for homeschoolers at $10.99+tax/person for teaching parents, homeschool children and immediate siblings in the same household. (this saved our family of 6 a TON when we went to Tennesee a few years ago with the entire family)

You must provide either a letter of intent, attendance record, or homeschool ID card at our admission windows in order to receive this discount.

Locally, Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach offers homeschool programs throughout the school year as well.


Don’t Forget About Discovery Channel Shark Week

Shark week is TVs longest-running (and best marketed) summer event and includes over 20 hours of original programming on the Discovery Channel. This was our first year watching it and we absolutely loved it. I had the Discovery Channel on in the background whenever I was in the kitchen (all the time btw) and family members would stop, pull up a stool and watch along with me throughout the day! Programming usually begins on a Sunday and runs for a week through the following Sunday every July. As the date approaches be sure to check out the Shark Week Schedule

Take Bits and Pieces From Larger Curriculum 

One thing that took me several years to learn as a homeschooling mom is that when I purchase curriculum, I don’t have to use all of the things, all of the time and in the order it is presented. I spent so many years being stressed out when we didn’t finish a workbook or when I wasn’t able to follow a boxed curriculum from Lesson 1 to Lesson 12 in the proper order. 

But I’m here to tell you that it is absolutely ok to not use an entire curriculum in one go! It’s perfectly acceptable to pick and choose what you learn with your kids and when based upon their interest level, your interest level (because that matters too) and what happens to be going on in your life at the time. This is the beauty of homeschooling, you make it work for you at your convenience.

What we’re doing with the Good and the Beautiful Marine Biology Curriculum (currently a free download) is taking it bit-by-bit as my sons interest level determines or as topics are presented to us as in the case of Shark Week. So for Shark Week, I’ve printed the entire Lesson 9 section on Sharks and we’ll be working on that throughout the week. If we complete the entire lesson, great, if not that’s fine too. It’s about exposure and experiences, learning together and making memories, not checking off the boxes.

Eclectic Homeschooling For the Win

Because my sons interests sometimes change with the drop of a hat, I’ve learned to create binders and folders around specific topics and add to them as we complete activities. It’s a great way to keep a portfolio of work and works well for unit studies or children with shorter attention spans. By creating a Marine Biology folder, I’m able to take clips and worksheets from our travels to the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet, couple that with images and activities from the aquarium in Gatlinburg or trips to our local aquarium in Charleston.

I’ll also add unit study pages, activities, worksheets and experiments or crafts to the list to create a full, comprehensive course. Homeschooling year-round is a great way to work in small burts while still keeping your child engaged!

How will you be observing Shark Week in your homeschool this year?







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