Friday, 12 July 2013

Rock Pools are Cool

It seems that summer has started for us as we found ourselves by the coast.  Since it was low tide, we had a good look at the rock pools.

Can you guess what we found?  Lots of life!  As this was an unplanned find (I hadn't planned for us to go rockpooling), our 'field work' consisted of finding the creatures, observing them, and taking many photographs.  The specific identifications were done later at home using the following book:

1.  Sea anenomes, specifically, the beadlet anenome.

2.  Common starfish

As the tide had just gone out before we arrived at the rockpools, most of the starfish we saw were still alive and trying to stay moist.  If you look closely at the clip below, you can see the starfish moving very slowly.

3.  Seaweeds (mostly kelp, but also red and green seaweeds)

4.  Shore crab

5.  Limpets and acorn barnacles

6.  Common periwinkles

7.  Mussels


8.  Evidence of lugworms

Excited by what we saw, we watched the following clips to learn from a marine biologist:

We also hopped on to the BBC Nature website to learn all about rockpools, then read a few books related to the subject.

We didn't see any hermit crab, but it seems to be the most exciting subject to be found in the rockpool, as shown by the clips about:
  1. life in a rockpool,
  2. rockpool animals,
  3. what you can find in a rockpool, and
  4. rockpool villains.
The following documentary also spends some time on the hermit crab:

We then decided to make an entry into our long-neglected nature journals.  I have always envied natural journalists who are able to record their sightings on the spot, so I tried to replicate that plein-aire experience by limiting the time we spent drawing and painting from the photographs.  Each drawing/sketch was done in five minutes, afterwhich each painting took about 10-15 minutes.

We also read a few more related articles from a nature magazine that is unfortunately no longer in publication.  The purpose of reading these articles is to give us some idea of what to write in our journals.  It works a little bit like a narration, in that I asked Tiger to recall and write one or more interesting facts about each drawing.

To motivate Tiger to stay with the project, I made my entries alongside him.  I find that he is more motivated and interested to draw and write more when I am participating in the same task.  It also gives me an opportunity to model research skills, attention to detail, page design, and patience (although the last skill is very much work-in-progress for me as well).

Another benefit of making journal entries together is that we learn loads together.  For example, when we were writing about the common starfish, we discovered that the starfish larvae floated freely in the sea.  Since we had no idea what a starfish larva looked like, we looked it up and found this fantastic page that tells us all about how a starfish grows.  Absolutely fascinating.

Tiger's journal entries:


If you live in the UK, you might consider going to one of the many great places for rockpooling this summer.  There is a lot to discover!

This post is linked up to:
  1. Hobbies and Handicrafts - July 12
  2. Collage Friday - Music Camp
  3. Weekly Wrap-Up: The One with the First Week of School 2013
  4. Science Sunday: learning how to use a microscope
  5. Hip Homeschool Hop - 7/16/13


  1. What a wonderful adventure. I love all of the discoveries. There is no better way to learn.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. Thank you, Dawn. Learning about rock pools was a lot of fun. :-)

  3. I love your nature journal! What age do you think can a boy start keeping a journal like this? At the moment my son has interest on journal... he calls it "My Adventure Book" inspired by the movie UP. It's all scribbles and doodles and a few writings. I thought that it's a great start... but I am not sure how long this newfound interest of his will last :)

  4. Thank you for your lovely comment, Jae. Tiger and I started nature journaling when he was about 5 years old. Back then, his nature journal was mostly scribbles, doodles, and pasted information or pictures. I would say that it's the interest, rather than the age, that dictates when one starts journaling. I never did any nature journaling until a few years ago, so age isn't a great factor. :-)

    Also, we don't put entries into our journals for every nature study we do, so we are not very consistent. Although consistency is a great idea, being too rigid about the frequency or method of recording may be off-putting to some children as that may take away the enjoyment of making an entry and turn the process into a dreaded mechanical exercise.

    I suppose the general rule is to keep up with a child's interest and support it for as long as it lasts. It's absolutely fine to change interests and stop doing something after a while. When that happens, just leave nature journaling aside then gently introduce it again after some time. The child may pick it up again, or he may not. Either way is fine. Flexibility is key. :-)

  5. What an awesome day of discovery and your nature journals look great. I tried nature journaling with my kids during three different school years, but they never got into it so we dropped it. I admire your journals and love to see the concept working.

  6. I'm with you, rock pools are very cool. I remember thinking it was the coolest thing to go to when I was a kiddo.

  7. Wow what a great place! I loved all the pictures except the lugworms looked not so good. Lol. Great journals! Enjoy the week!

  8. What a beautifully put together post, and so inspiring. You did well identifying all those finds! And your nature journals are gorgeous - you are both very artistic! Thanks for sharing.

  9. I'm always blown away by the creativity and amount of material that is being learned in your homeschool! Awesome!

    Thanks for linking with Collage Friday!

  10. Thank you for visiting and for all your encouraging comments, ladies. They mean a lot to us. :-)

  11. " being too rigid about the frequency or method of recording may be off-putting to some children as that may take away the enjoyment of making an entry and turn the process into a dreaded mechanical exercise" I totally agree! Reason why I don't impose too much. And the fact that I always ask him what he wants to do. Good thing now at age 4 he knows that we do "home" school everyday and that he appreciates it because he's learning much. It seems like a routine already for him. Thank you for your insights :) Appreciate much!


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