6.22.2015

Ode to the Jellyfish.


I don't often visit aquariums, but when I do, I love to see the jellyfish exhibits.

Jellyfish were my arch nemeses in the ocean when I was a kid. They ruined all my fun. But in a tank (and hopefully an animal-friendly one), I find them fascinating and beautiful. Watching them float up and down is a therapeutic experience for me. So this week I wanted to share my love of jellyfish with you. And if you feel so inclined, I have a book recommendation and a fun project for you to try as well.

Read on.

Several years ago, again in that preschool classroom of mine, we embarked on a year-long exploration of the ocean. Each month, we'd learn about a different marine animal. We researched sea urchins. We read about orcas (a class favorite) and about sea stars. And then, we moved onto jellyfish. Again, most kids hate jellyfish like they hate bees, but I urged the class to keep an open mind.

So we read this book. We learned that jellyfish don't have brains. They just bump and sting, bump and sting. (As adults, we know that it's slightly more complicated than that, but that's the gist of it.) In short, I wanted my students to know that the stinging jellyfish do really wasn't personal. It's just what they do.

Near the end of our unit, I "made" some "moon jellies" from gelatin and brought them into class. The kids had a blast breaking their "jellyfish" apart and no animal was harmed in the process.

And then we tied ribbon to shower caps and made something like this:


At the end of the month, we all participated a jellyfish dance. We bumped and swayed and stung our friends to our hearts content.

It was a blast.

Locally, Birch Aquarium is the spot to check out jellyfish. And if you have a BofA card, you can visit Birch Aquarium (or this one) for free the first Saturday and Sunday of every month thanks to a promotion called 'Museums on Us.'