Aug 29, 2008
Friday Find: Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef
Malena and Lautaro recently attended their friend Gloria’s fourth birthday party. Her birthday bash had a sea creature theme, so what better book to give as a gift than Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef?
Author Marianne Berkes cleverly wrote the book to the tune of the children’s favorite “Over in the Meadow.” Through the catchy song (sheet music is even provided in the back), children are introduced to animal families and counting concepts. Children learn about each sea creature’s traits and habitats. The mama pufferfish encourages her babies to puff and baby octopi squirt at the request of their mother. As you progress through the book, the number of babies increases – reinforcing counting through song and visuals. Your child will be singing the song in no time and demanding, “read it again! Read it again!”
I love using illustrated children’s book as an opportunity to expose your children to different art media and techniques. Artist Jeanette Canyon’s amazing illustrations using polymer clay are so beautiful to look at and really bring the book to life. Your child will be tempted to touch and grab the clownfish and seahorses. Jeanette’s work adds vibrant color and whimsical texture and dimension to Marianne’s wonderful lyrics. Jeanette gives readers an informative description of her work and artistic philosophy in the back of the book. After reading it, parents will reexamine the book and wonder – sliced clay rods? How did she do it??
Jeanette even suggests ways for parents and children to create their own works of art with clay. Here are a few other ways to extend the book through activities with your children. Find another illustrated book of sea creatures (if you don’t have another sea creature book, any will do fine) that uses a different art or media technique, such as pen and ink, watercolor or collage. Compare the books with your children and discuss the differences in technique and how the pictures look different or similar. Remember to keep it age appropriate, however, even the youngest reader can notice differences and describe it. Get out some of you own art supplies (paint, clay, playdough, tissue paper) and make sea creatures together. This story would also make for a wonderful flannel board adaptation. You can cut the sea creatures out of felt and ask your children to help you decorate the sea creatures and use Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef for inspiration. And you will definitely want to read this book before any trips to the aquarium or tidepools.
Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef has won numerous awards, including: Learning Magazine's Teachers' Choice Award in 2006, the National Association for Parenting Publications 2005 Gold Award and the 2005 Publisher's Marketing Association Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Interior Design.
Children ages 2 to 8 will love hearing and reading Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef and parents will enjoy reading it over and over. Publisher Dawn Publications is currently offering 10% off all online orders. The book is also available in board book format for younger readers. You can also find Over in the Ocean, In a Coral Reef in the One Crafty Mama Recommends Amazon store.