You might notice soon that most of our themes are animals… I have a little boy who LOVES everything to do with animals. We’ve done non-animal things, but they are few and far between. There was a 4 month period where we only did birds of prey. This week we did Octopi! The one pictured above is a giant pacific octopus. You might recognize it from the Wild Kratts episode. If you don’t know who the wild Kratts are, I’m sorry, they’re awesome!
I’ve been trying to get Zachary to enjoy cutting more, so I’ve been doing a LOT of cutting crafts. He has a strange love for all crafts that involve toilet paper rolls (I don’t know how many peregrine falcons and pigeons we’ve made from toilet paper rolls, but it’s a LOT!).
So here’s what we did. I got three toilet paper rolls (one for me, one for Zachary, and one for Zoriah because she wasn’t napping) and drew eight lines from the bottom to the middle. Straight lines so my reluctant cutter wouldn’t be averse to it. (This is called “fringing” in technical “school-speak”, if you record all your stuff, that’s how you would put it.)
When they’re all cut, roll each one around a pencil or your finger, this makes them curl nicely and look more like tentacles.
Next you break out the paint (or markers, crayons, whatever your burgeoning artist enjoys most, or hasn’t worked with yet. I gave Zoriah a highlighter because she LOVES them). Paint your octopus, add suckers (can be stickers or just paint them on) and eyes (googly eyes were my choice, but Zachary insisted that it be totally painted…. so I got outvoted by my 5 year old…. how did that happen?). Wait for everything to dry :(. THEN you can play with them! They stand up pretty well so they’re great for just playing with.
Steps in a nutshell:
- Gather TP tubes
- Fringe 8 legs
- Curl the legs
- Paint the Octopus and add Eyes
- Attack various small toy animals with your new octopus because its a predator (optional)
Ways to use this for learning:
Counting – count the legs, count the eyes, count how many you can make. (4 for us)
Cutting – Fine motor skills are tested, as well as a mother’s ability to actually give her kids sharp instruments without freaking out.
Painting – Zachary was working on the whole “you don’t need to stick the whole friggin brush into the paint pot to get enough paint.” Art skills are VERY important.
Math Manipulative – You could use the octopus legs as a firm #8. Like you use your fingers for a firm #5. You know there are 8 legs on your octopus, add or subtract from there.
Octopus Windsock (cutting, hole punching, drawing)
This one is pretty straight-forward. I made the template in Pages (I LOVE pages!) and let Zachary cut it out. He HATES cutting, but there was a kite-type thing in it for him, so he decided it’d be ok. We did this one in the park so he even got to share his new toy with lots of friends. I was nice and didn’t make him cut each individual leg, but if your kid likes cutting, or just REALLY needs the practice, I made several curved and squiggly lines for that sort of practice.
Then we taped the two edges together, punched holes in both sides, and tied on the string. We normally like tape better than glue because you don’t have to let it dry. We do plenty of things that require patience. This just wasn’t one of them.
Once everything was together, I let him run around the park with it. He even attached it to his bike (I’ve been trying to get Zoriah to ride her trike, so we brought both with us to the park) and it flew behind him. It was pretty awesome. I finally got some pictures when we got home.
When he had played with it for a while, I started using it as a conversation piece. I asked Zachary questions about the way it was moving. Why it would be moving like that, etc.
How would an octopus move that fast? – It would use its siphon to shoot water
Why would it move that fast? – To get away from a predator
What kind of predator would eat an octopus? – Seal, shark, dolphin, etc.
What kind of animals would see an octopus as a predator? – clams, fish
Do you think this octopus could get through tight places like a real octopus? – Maybe, but It’d get squished!
Would a real octopus get squished? – YES! But they’re squishy anyway.
Do you wanna go push your sister on the swing now? – YES!!!!
(OK, that last one had no educational merit, but he was getting a bit distracted by the awesomeness of the octopus windsock so asking any more questions would have been futile.)
Octopus Math (Addition and subtraction with a colorable octopus in the corner)
OK, this activity is pretty boring….. Its just math… with Octopi in the corners. But hey, its still fun for my math-obsessed little one and totally related to the topic. I did the number of the day for that day which was 7, but I think I’m gonna change the #8 math facts to octopus Math for the purposes of this Theme. You know, because they have 8 arms…. and that makes WAY more sense to me.
So, just about every week, I go to education.com and type in the subject of the week to see if i can find some sort of awesome worksheet that I don’t have to make myself. Zachary has been doing 4×4 sudoku, so I thought he might enjoy this 6×6 octopus sudoku. It was pretty cool. We do the sudoku, then highlight the numbers. Sudoku is great for developing logic skills so I was pretty excited when I found a Sudoku worksheet that had to do with our theme.
Its labeled under 3rd grade, but its basic logic, so he didn’t have any issues with it.
Octopus BOOKS! (affiliate links -What does that mean?)
So apparently we weren’t the only people reading about octopi this week. We only ended up with 3 books from our library because all the other ones had been checked out. It was OK though, Zachary was sick for three days and all he wanted to do was watch “Wild Kratts” and sleep… so not much reading really happened. 🙁
– By Sandra Markle.
This book is part of a series about prey animals. The first of the series that we found was about skunks. It “follows” a female octopus around while she eats things, avoids being eaten, and lays her eggs. It has some amazing pictures, especially page 18 and 19. It has a mimic octopus doin’ its thing and pretending to be other animals. Totally awesome.
Not so much info on actual octopi, but had great pictures that made my little sick boy feel like he was still learning. It also connected animals that he can play with on a regular basis to what he was studying.
– By Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith
This was a beautiful book full of NONSENSE! Basically, the cowboy is a bit dull, but he befriends an octopus, and antics ensue. The letters are big and the pictures are interesting. They look like they’ve been cut out of a magazine (which may or may not inspire some interesting crafts next week… if it does i’ll edit this and link them up) Zachary was pretty happy with the nonsense and I was pretty happy with the fact that he wanted to try to read it by himself!
Things I learned from the week
- Octopus don’t have shells anywhere… I thought that all mollusks did, oops!
- Octopus, Octopi, and Octopuses are all correct plural nouns. I like octopus or octopi best because octopuses just sounds weird to me (and a little bit dirty). But to each his/her own.
- Octopus can change Texture just like Cuttlefish
- Octopus sometimes hide in the shells of bivalves… its kinda hermit-crab-like.
- One of an octopus’s (still sounds dirty even if its possessive) arms might actually be a pseudo-penis called a hexicotilus (dude I, totally spelled that right on the first try!). And they might rip it off and hand it to the female octopus so she can use it at her leisure. Yeah, not all the things I learn are lovely.
Other things I was tempted to try but didn’t
- Octo-dogs You take hot dogs, cut them in half, then slit the bottoms up the middle so it makes tentacles. Then you can fry them and decorate them with ketchup and fun stuff. — This one was a suggestion from my dad. We didn’t do it because my kid really doesn’t like hot dogs. He’s weird. He also weirds out when you change his food.
- Find an octopus at an asian market and dissect it. –I’d still like to do this, but my budget was spent this week on awesome food stuffs… the cream sauce was ridonkulous. (am i allowed to use that word without losing my adult card?)
- Octopus Yarn dolls – we might still do this one for O week with the tiny people. You wrap lots of yarn around a lid or a big piece of cardboard, then tie the head, add eyes, and braid tentacles from the yarn that’s dangling. Pretty cute, i’ll link the instructions.
There are a TON more (just google octopus crafts) but those are the ones that tempted me.
Next Week: Wolves!