Time to Think, Create, and Walk

I spent this weekend at the beach. It has been beautiful! My intent for the time away was to finalize my first unit to be published (and hopefully sold) on Teachers Pay Teachers. Unfortunately (or maybe not), the weather was too amazing to sit inside during the day. Instead, I walked and walked and walked.

Of course, as I walked I had lesson ideas on my mind. The patterns in the sand begged the question why are the patterns sooooo different in different areas. The carcasses of little crab-like critters spread in lines from high tide waves made me more curious when I saw an alive one scurry under the sand. What happens to cause a die-off like this? Is this typical or cause for alarm? What about the seal (or was it a sea lion) that was sunbathing right on the beach?! Was it simply taking a break or struggling to survive? Many of these questions, frankly, led me nowhere further in developing a lesson. Alas, the shells.

Shells fascinate most children, and some of us child-at-heart adults. I am forever in hunt for a full Sand Dollar. However, this trip I only came across broken ones. Then, it came to me, how much would half a Sand Dollar be “worth”? 50 Cents? It might be fun to take, or take pictures of, or ask kids to bring in, partial Sand Dollars to the classroom. Students could measure them, determine the fraction and percent of the shell, and then determine how much it is “worth.”

Another Sand Dollar idea involves art. How about giving students Sand Dollars that are less than 50% complete and have them draw the rest of it? Try this with different sizes of partial Sand Dollars. Will they uncover what the middle looks like? Will they follow radial symmetry? How many will simply use this as an opportunity to explore abstract art and create their own patterns? I think it would be fun to see what they create.

I also came across this striped shell. Full striped shellThis shell lends itself to math exploration, art, and science learning. Look at the stripes. What advantage does the striped pattern provide? Why are the stripes different thicknesses? What are the horizontal ridges on the shell? The hole in the top is not an accident. Notice the stripes converge at a white circle that surrounds the opening. I would be interested to hear students discuss this shell and ponder why and what for. What would students notice that I do not?

As I thought about these shells and all of the other sights on the beach, I walked. I walked and walked and walked. I loved it! Being outside on a beautiful day in a beautiful place allowed me time to think and create. I firmly believe students need to get outside, too! 🙂

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