Kelp Forests

Earth Day is a week from today.  Of course, that means there are a LOT of events, festivals, and activities going on this coming weekend.  One of which is the Laguna Beach Kelpfest.  This is a relatively new festival in the area.  Volunteers began working to bring the kelp forests back to our local beaches through restoration and education and in 2009 the first Kelpfest came to the area.  This year it is being held in Laguna Beach.  There is supposed to be a lot of activities for the kids, tours of the kelp beds, a beach clean up, and a lot of really cool people to talk to.  We have never been to this event but I wanted to try it this year so I decided to make it a learning experience all around.

So, I researched!  I swear, since deciding to homeschool I feel like I have personally learned so much more about the world around me.  New places to explore, identifying different plants and animals, even history!  But this research lead me to what exactly kelp is, the animals that live in kelp forests, the parks of kelp, and so much more.

I started off our lesson with the free coloring book offered by the Kelpfest website!  What a great introduction to children about the animals that live in a kelp forest, the parts of the plant, and my favorite, the page where it compares them to a real forest on land.  This was a great visual for my little man who knows about trees, but not kelp.  It made a great connection for him.

After going through the book and talking about it (my son is not a coloring book kind of kid), we then watched a movie from Dragon Fly TV.  Another great find on my part.  I love when doing next to no preplanning results in a great lesson!  Little Man was rapt with attention, a no small feat.  I don’t know if it was because it was a place he had never seen before (underwater), something he had never really thought about before (scuba diving), or just the fact that it was kids and animals doing cool things.  He did tell me he had his swim goggles and could do that too when we went to the festival this weekend.  I used it as motivation to work at being a better swimming so he could learn to scuba dive when he was older.

Yay for unintended connections.  We just finished a lapbook about A House for Hermit Crab which talks about kelp forests in the book.  This lead us, unintentionally, to learning about kelp forests a little more in-depth.  And then due to that study, we are renewing our swimming lessons this week, which would have happened anyway.  It feels like a giant, unintended unit study.

Other great links to look at to learn about kelp forests and the animals that live there
California Science Center: Kelp Forest  – The California Science Center is an awesome place!  We lived our visit there this year and will do so again.  Consider this a GREAT field trip location to go after studying kelp forests if the Kelpfest isn’t an option.

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Live Kelp Forest Web Cam – Watch a real kelp forest!  You can try and identify the different fish you see swimming by to make it a little more exciting for the kids.

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