Exploring Oceans and Swimming Creatures

This post is sponsored by Lil Fishys. I was compensated for my time and received the product for the purpose of this post. Opinions are my own. See Disclosure for more.
This year we studied Swimming Creatures and Water Habitats (oceans, rivers, etc.) for Science. Our core was Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day (Young Explorer Series), by Apologia. (Each text comes with access to a webpage with additional resources from Apologia, including more notebooking pages.)

But because I don’t love preparing notebooks myself, we also used both student notebooks:


The first notebook works great for older students who are more comfortable with taking notes and writing. The Junior notebook is for younger students (it includes coloring pages) or those who aren’t as comfortable writing.

Then we used other printables and worksheets for the youngest students (this year we have a Kindergarten age child) and to supplement what the older students have.

studying swimming creaturesAs I suspected, this turned out to be one of our favorite Science topics. (Our second daughter has been crazy for manatees since she was two years old.) I let the girls choose the subject from the three Apologia Zoology options. (We finished out our year with a quick unit study on the human body, since the Apologia Junior Explorer books can be stretched to a full year or finished more quickly.)

fun with lil fishys sharksAll through the study of Swimming Creatures the kids are supposed to construct a diorama. The suggestion is to make sea creatures out of clay or other materials. That could be fun (although I am, as a general rule, diorama averse) but my kids had fun creating some pretend animal habitats with a new-to-us toy that would blow any diorama out of the water. (OK, forgive all the water puns. I couldn’t help myself!)

Swimming Fun with Lil Fishys

Here’s the thing: we live in a land-locked state. (OK, technically we have a Great Lake on our border, but we personally don’t live anywhere near it.) Trips to the seashore are few and far between for us.

And we’re not a family that has a desire for an elaborate aquarium or space to keep a lot of pets of any type. Lil Fishys are a great alternative to a “real” aquarium set up.

But opening our box from Lil Fishys was like Christmas. (Our soon-to-be three year old actually squealed, “Is dis my birthday?” If you’d like a chance to be surprised in the mail with some treats from Lil Fishys, see the bottom of this post for a great giveaway!)

These are realistic looking sea creatures: whales, dolphins, fish, etc. Our set included a large fish bowl, suitable for the smaller “pets”. We also had several that were fun in our wading pool, once the weather decided to cooperate. I wanted to share some pictures of how much fun we had with these toys, but in the end, we decided a video captured them a lot better than still photos, so check this out to see a few of our Lil Fishy friends in action:

If you are going to study oceans or swimming creatures, I strongly recommend these adorable toys to embellish your study.

These fish friends are easy to use – you’ll need a small screwdriver and a supply of batteries (we use rechargeable) to bring your finned friends to life. One thing we appreciated: the propellers are surrounded by tiny cages, which helps keep little fingers or other objects safe. (Some of my fellow Lil Fishys fans do warn that you should be careful if you have kids with longer hair, but it wasn’t an issue for us.)

baby studying swimming creaturesLil Fishys would make a great addition to your summer fun. Don’t forget to scroll down for your chance to win some of these fun toys!

And, if you want to make a Swimming Creatures unit study (sneaking in some extra school is like a ninja skill for homeschool moms, right?), here are some more resources we used this year.

Related Resources for Studying Swimming Creatures:

Facts About Ocean Animals from 3 Boys and a Dog.

Jellyfish Animal Study and Lapbook from Homeschool Share.

Manatee Animal Study and Lapbook from Homeschool Share.

Whales Animal Study and Lapbook from Homeschool Share.

Humphrey the Lost Whale study and printables from Homeschool Share.

Shark Animal Study and Lapbook from Homeschool Share.

Paintstrip Ocean Depth worksheet from Deceptively Educational.

Amanda Bennett’s Oceans Unit Study lapbook from Homeschool Share. (Note: the unit study for this is not free, but the lapbook is.)

Sea Turtle Unit Study and lapbook from Homeschool Share.

Websites About Swimming Creatures:

Whale Watch (great archive of whale sounds plus other games and pictures)

Sea Turtle Conservancy (lots of fact sheets, projects, coloring sheets, & more)

Movies for Studying Swimming Creatures:

Bill Nye The Science Guy: Ocean Life Classroom Edition(Note: does mention “millions of years”)
Oceanfrom DK is another video. (DK Eyewitness books and DVDs also mention millions of years.)

Eyewitness DVD: Fish

Eyewitness DVD: Shark

Picture Books About Swimming Creatures

The Ocean Alphabet Board Bookby Jerry Pallotta.
in the swimby Douglas Florian.
Into The A, B, Sea: An Ocean Alphabet Book

Ocean Counting: Odd Numbers
Underwater Counting (Even Numbers)

Fish is FishFun for a young reader.

Chapter Books for Young Readers

Magic Tree House #53: Shadow of the Shark


Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #32: Sharks and Other Predators: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #53: Shadow of the Shark

Here Come the Dolphins! by Alice E. Goudey is out of print but our library has a copy and yours might too. It’s not actually divided into chapters but it is too long to be considered a picture book. A great example of a “living book” to teach about marine life.

Chapter Books About Swimming Creatures

The Living Sea.

Activity Books for Studying Swimming Creatures

Sea Animals Coloring Book (Dover Little Activity Books)
Whales and Dolphins Coloring Book (Dover Nature Coloring Book)
Sea Life Stained Glass Coloring Book (Dover Nature Stained Glass Coloring Book)

Coloring Pages from Lil Fishys.

My children love “how to draw” books and to assist them in adding illustrations to their notebooks I ordered these from our library:
Drawing Sharks, Whales, Dolphins and Seals (How-to-Draw Book). This book is a little more “serious” than the next one.
Drawing Sea Animals With Numbers.

Reference Books

Turtle Rescue: Changing the Future for Endangered Wildlife (Firefly Animal Rescue)

Ready for some Summer Fun with Lil Fishys?

Lil Fishys is giving away a Lil Fishys aquarium and a grab bag of Lil Fishys Toys. They’re choosing three winners!

Want to find out more about Lil Fishys?
You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Don’t miss the Instagram Party Fun going on through 5/27 (more chances to win!)
instagram lil fishys challenge
and the Twitter Party with some more great giveaways on 5/26
summer fun twitter party
What are your favorite resources for learning about Oceans or swimming creatures?
swimming fun study

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52 Family Game Nights: Skip-Bo

We’re continuing our “classic games” section of this series with another old card game.

family game night skip bo

Family Game Night #18: Skip-Bo

The Skip-Bo box says “From the Makers of Uno” but my (perfunctory) research tells me that Skip-Bo is actually older by a few years. Either way, it’s definitely got some similarities to Uno.

I remember some great games of this when I was young, so it’s got the nostalgia factor. There’s very little reading (just numbers 1-12 and Skip-Bo cards), so even young family members can play. And it’s easy to play teams, which is actually my favorite way to play. There are some similarities to Dutch Blitz, too, in that players are building up stacks of cards in sequence. But everyone has to take turns with Skip-Bo so it’s not as crazy as Dutch Blitz (and that could be good or bad depending on your gaming mood).

skip bo cards

The basic point is to get rid of the cards in your own stock pile. You also have cards in your hand that you can play, and your own discard piles. The rules say that stock piles are to be 20 or 30 cards depending on the number of players, but my family has rarely played that many. You can vary the game by having each players’ stock pile be 10, 12, or 15 cards instead of 20. (This also makes for a shorter game.)

If you’re in the mood for strategy and deep game playing, this is not your best bet. But if you’re in the mood for a simple card game that almost anyone can play, this could be a great choice.

There’s a Junior version, but I don’t think it’s necessary since younger children can easily play the original. This one is easy to find at yard sales and thrift stores, but with a price tag under $10 it’s not going to hurt your budget too badly even if you buy it new. (I must admit that I’m partial to the older cards. It’s that nostalgia thing again.)

Summary of Skip-Bo

Number of Players:2-6

Recommended Ages: 7+ (we’ve played with younger, probably 4 or so)

Reading Required: No

Have you played Skip-Bo as a family? Do you prefer singles or teams?


Posts may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy if you have questions about this. If no images appear on this post, you may need to disable an ad blocker on your browser. If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on your favorite social media sites.

College Savings Giveaway

With our oldest ready to start her Sophomore year of high school, you can bet that “what comes next” is on our radar quite a lot. We’re not sure yet what path she’ll follow when she finishes high school, but we do know that we want her to have as many options as possible.

College is one of those options.

I don’t know if you’ve priced college lately, but it’s expensive. And the state we live in has some of the most expensive public colleges in the nation. (I think our state is ranked #4 out of the 50 for most expensive public universities!)

So, anyway, college can be expensive. If you’re looking at college for your children, I’m sure you’ve realized that too.

That’s why I’m excited to share information about this fantastic giveaway. (I was compensated for my time writing this post, but really, I’m excited to share this with you – I entered too!)

college savings giveaway carson dellosa

Enter the Carson-Dellosa College Savings Giveaway to win up to $2,000 for your child’s education!

Grand Prize: $2,000 (only one winner)
Second Prize: $1,000 each (two winners)

Even if your children are younger than high school age, you should enter. Why?

Because even cuties like this:
kindergarten graduate
will be ready for college before you know it!

Click here for your chance to jump start your college savings.
college savings giveaway

Posts may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy if you have questions about this. If no images appear on this post, you may need to disable an ad blocker on your browser. If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on your favorite social media sites.