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Ebb and Flow

Make a simple moveable painting in watercolors and markers to illustrate how tides affect the life and landscape along the shoreline.

  • Grade 1
    Grade 2
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Share with the class picture books about tides and tidal pools such as “The Disappearing Island” by Corinne Demas or “The Seaside Switch” by Kathleen Kudinski. Invite children to share their experiences at the seashore and knowledge of tides. If the class is far from the sea or does not have that first-hand experience, read “The Seashore Book” by Charlotte Zolotow as well because it describes the ocean experience to a child who has never been there.
    2. Talk about what they believe is different between an area covered and uncovered by saltwater. In Demas’ book, there is only ocean until the tide changes and then an island “appears” ready to be explored by the narrator. Wonder if the same plants and animals can survive both underwater and on land. Do different animals appear at the different stages of the process? Why would that happen? What’s there but unseen? Discuss how the daily rising and falling of the tidal water affects the environment.
    3. Students cover their work areas with recycled newspaper. Pre-cut or help the students cut slots three quarters of the way up the paper from the bottoms of pieces of watercolor or heavy paper using Crayola® Pointed-Tip Scissors. On a second sheet, cut down the size of a piece of papers to fit through the slot of each child’s paper.
    4. Show the students how to slide the second pieces through the slots of the larger ones to prepare to paint the high tides ocean scenes using Crayola Washable Watercolors and Brushes. On the back, tape the two pieces together before starting to paint.
    5. Encourage the students to experiment with the watercolor paint on the leftover scraps to see how not to over-soak the paper with water as well as how to blend the colors. Prompt the children to paint the ocean and the sky, covering both pieces of exposed paper. Remind students that the horizon (the sky) begins at the slot. Let air-dry.
    6. Un-tape and remove the smaller papers to uncover blank areas on the larger pieces. Here is where students paint what appears when the tide is low. Talk about the colors and shapes found on land versa those of waves. While these papers air-dry, talk about the plants and animals that may be seen now that the tide is low. Using Crayola Washable Fine Line Markers, the class adds these details (like crabs, seaweed, shellfish and birds) as well as land forms like rocks and rivulets.
    7. Reassemble the two papers when dry and move them to simulate the movement of the tides along the shoreline.
  • Standards

    LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    SCI: Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive.

    SCI: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how plants and animals (including humans) can change the environment to meet their needs.

    SCI: Make observations of plants and animals to compare the diversity of life in different habitats.

    SCI: Compare multiple solutions designed to slow or prevent wind or water from changing the shape of the land.

    SCI: Develop a model to represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area.

    VA: Students will initiate making works of art and design by experimenting, imagining and identifying content.

    VA: Art communicates about and helps viewers understand the natural and constructed world.

  • Adaptations

    Ask the students to guess how long it takes for the tide to go from low to high; then track the tide!

    Complement this project with an in-class experiment focused on water erosion.

    Discuss what other environments (like underground, water droplet even cityscape) that have teeming life unseen at times. How are these similar and different from a shoreline?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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