A conversation we had yesterday:

Me: Stephen, what is your favorite shark?

Stephen: There are 3 that I like the most. Basking shark because it just eats plankton. Whale shark because it just eats plankton. Great white shark…because it eats fish.

Eliana: It eats people too!!

Stephen: No it doesn’t!!

Me: What are some other types of sharks?

Stephen: Leopord, Blue, Hammerhead, 7 gill, rug shark, hmmm…what’s that little one that’s only 8 inches long?

Eliana: Pigee or something?

Me: the pygmy shark?

Stephen: Yeah, that one!

Me: Why do you like sharks so much, Stephen?

Stephen: Because.
Stephen has had a thing for sharks for maybe a year now, so basically the entire year of being a 3 year old boy. I’m not even sure how it started. He used to really like spiders, most specifically Black Widows. He’s also always been into Halloween and the scariness of it. He’ll take the spooky skeletons over the cute jack-o-lanterns any day. This is not to say he doesn’t scare easily. He freaks out, I mean freaks out, if he finds a spider in the house. Although this is getting better. I guess maybe he likes the “scary fun” or he wants to know more about what scares him. Maybe there is something intuitive and biological in expanding your knowledge on these fear-induced topics in order to better handle them? I don’t know; I’m speculating. Knowledge is power after all.

I’m really trying to get the hang of this whole project time and mentoring the kids with their interests. It seems we go through phases (that are directly related to how much sleep I’ve gotten recently-which has not been nearly enough!). I have learned so much from Lori Pickert at Project Based Homeschooling, and it’s just a matter of consistently implementing it. I do feel we take a project based approach to most of our learning, but we have a hard time keeping a daily time slot for it, which leads to many lingering projects.

Stephen has been studying sharks in his own, project-based way, for the last year. He has spent hours and hours reading shark books, making shark books, doing shark puzzles, and coloring shark coloring pages that he picks out from Google Images. He has watched You Tube videos on sharks (we stay away from the gruesome shark attacks and bloody limbs, so I help out during this time!) and a shark documentary on Netflix.


This page of his self written book says "sharks have big mouths"

This page of his self written book says “sharks mouths are big”

Months ago he molded a clay shark and painted it after it air dried.

A couple weeks ago he and I had a date at a ceramics studio and he picked out a shark (surprise!) to paint. He wanted “all different shades of blue” for his shark even though “the teeth should be white”.

Last November we planned a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and before we went Stephen and Eliana made their own aquarium complete with signs, homemade name tags that said “Marine Biologist” and water that they colored blue-green. “The color of the ocean, Mommy!”

Stephen's sign for the play aquarium.

Stephen’s sign for the play aquarium.

Last week for Stephen’s 4th birthday he chose to take another trip to the aquarium instead of a party. I keep thinking this interest will fade, but it keeps re-surfacing. He just told me yesterday he wants to make a shark pillow.(!?!) He’s going to have to do a lot of his own research again because this mama can’t even sew on a button! But then again, I had no idea what a Pygmy Shark was until he told me, either.

5 thoughts on “A Preschool Shark Project

  1. this is so fantastic — thank you so much for sharing! 😀

    my son (now 14!) studied sharks when he was the same age. :) and he made a stuffed shark out of paper that was stapled all along the edge and stuffed with tissue paper!

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