Fun With Seashells

Overview

This lesson plan includes three activities in which students use different science process skills to investigate seashells. In Activity One, students make qualitative and quantitative observations about seashells. In Activity Two, students classify shells into two different groups based on different properties, create names for the shells and exchange their classification systems with another group to practice using the classification systems. In Activity Three, students use sampling techniques to predict how many univalve, bivalve, and other types of shells are in a large collection of shells. These activities fit very well into a thematic unit on oceans or sea life and can be done in a series, or in sections spread out over a longer period of time.

Activity One: Shell Observations
Activity Two:Classifying Shells
Activity Three: Predicting With Shells

FCAT Connection

Strand G: How Living Things Interact With Their Environment

Standard 1:

Benchmark: SC.G.1.3.2 and SC.G.1.3.3

Materials

See individual activities

Procedures

See individual activities

Assessment

See individual activities

Literature Connection

Seashores: A Guide to Animals and Plants Along the Beaches by Herbert S. Zim and Lester Ingle.
Dive to the Coral Reefs by Elizabeth Tayntor.
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell.
The Black Pearl by Scott O'Dell.
The Cay by Theodore Taylor.
The Seashore Book by Charlotte Zolotow.
The Voyage of the Frog by Gary Paulsen.

Additional reference

Rising to the Challenge of the National Science Education Standards: The Processes of Science Inquiry by Karen Ostlund and Sheryl Mercier. This excellent resource contains 36 activities and investigations for grades 4-8 in Life, Earth, and Physical Science.

Attachments

Background Information
Note: Additional attachments will be available soon. Please check back.

FCAT Learning Activities- Science, 6 - 8

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Fun With Seashells
Activity One: Shell Observations

Materials

The following materials are needed for Activity One:

  • A variety of seashells
  • Markers, colored pencils or crayons
  • Metric tape measures
  • Balances
  • Graduated cylinders
  • Plastic cups large enough to hold the shells
  • Plastic plates
  • Eyedroppers
  • Water
  • "Shell Observations" student data sheets (attached)

Procedures

  1. Ask students to shut their eyes and pretend they are at the beach. Tell them to imagine they are walking along the beach and there a lot of seashells washed up onto the sand. Have them imagine they pick up an interesting looking shell and hold it in their hands. Now have the students open their eyes and make a list of everything they saw and felt when they were holding the shell. After students have developed their lists, have them share their list with a partner. When they have completed this sharing, ask for volunteers to share their lists with the class as you write their responses on an overhead transparency.
  2. Ask if any of the students have seashell collections and have them describe their collections to the class.
  3. Create a class K-W-L on shells. Complete the "K" and "W" sections as a class.
  4. Remind the students that qualitative observations are observations based on information from their senses and quantitative observations are based on measurements or use numbers to describe the properties of the objects.
  5. Divide the students into groups and give each group a variety of seashells.
  6. Distribute the "Shell Observations" student data sheets and instruct each student to follow the directions listed on their data sheets.
  7. When all of the steps have been completed, have all of the students in the class place their shells in a box and mix up the shells. Challenge the students to find the shell they used in parts one and two, and take it out of the box. If more than one student claims the same shell, they must use their descriptions, drawings, and measurements to prove they have selected the correct shell.

Assessment

The following strategies may be used to assess Activity One:

  1. Individual student data sheets should be evaluated using a rubric.
  2. Working in groups, ask students to develop acrostics to describe the many types of seashells.
  3. Ask students to create a name for their shell and write a story about its life in their science journals. Have the students volunteer to share their stories with the class.

FCAT Learning Activities- Science, 6 - 8

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Fun With Seashells
Activity Two: Classifying Shells

Materials

The following Materials are needed for Activity Two:

  • Twenty different seashells for each group
  • "Classifying Shells" data sheet (attached)
  • An overhead of "Five Common Groups of Seashells" (made from the attached master)

Procedures

  1. Ask students to brainstorm all of the ways things are classified. Prompt them about to discuss classification systems in biology (dichotomous keys, 5 kingdoms, phyla, classes, orders, families, binomial classification of genus and species, etc.); chemistry (Periodic Table of the Elements), astronomy (star sizes and temperatures), etc. Ask them to discuss the reasons they think these things are classified.
  2. Divide a set of twenty seashells into two groups based on one property; i.e., shape of shell. Ask students to guess the property you used to divide the shells into two groups. Discuss the other properties of the shell that could have been used to divide the shells: color, size, luster, density, etc. Be sure the students understand what each property is and how it could be used to group the shells.
  3. Divide the students into groups. Give each group twenty different kinds of seashells.
  4. Give each student a data sheet to complete and instruct them to follow the directions on their data sheets.
  5. When the students have completed the activity, close the lesson by using the overhead, "Five Common Groups of Seashells" and the information in the "Background Information" to create a class graphic organizer of how mollusks are divided into seven groups, called classes, but only some of them count as seashells.

Assessment

The following strategies may be used to assess Activity Two:

  • Use a rubric to evaluate the student data sheets.
  • Ask each group to make a class presentation of itsclassification system. The presentations should be evaluated using a rubric.
  • Ask students to imagine they are a shell. They should pick a place where they would live then write about their life during a typical day, and draw what they would see. Students should describe what happens during the different tide cycles, who walks, swims, or crawls past them. What do they eat? Does anything try to eat them?

Attachments

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FCAT Learning Activities- Science, 6 - 8

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Fun With Seashells
Part Three: Predicting With Shells

Materials

The following materials are needed for Activity Three:

  • Bucket of seashells for each group
  • "Predicting with Shells" data sheet

Procedures

  1. Ask the students if they have ever seen a picture of a large crowd with an estimation of how many people were in the picture. Have the students describe how the number of people in the picture was determined.
  2. Ask them to discuss any other times they have heard of samples being done.
  3. Show one of the buckets of seashells to the students and have them estimate how many shells are in the bucket.
  4. Remind the students of the different groups discussed in part two and show them an example of a univalve, bivalve, tusk, and chiton.
  5. Ask them to predict how many univalves, bivalves or other types of shells are in the bucket.
  6. Divide the students into groups and give each group one bucket of shells.
  7. Instruct the students to take one handful of shells out of the bucket and sort the shells according to the categories listed on #1 on the data sheets. They should use tally marks to record the number of each type of shell.
  8. Based on this sample, the students should predict how many univalves, bivalves, and other types of shells are in their group's bucket. They should also estimate the total number of shells in the bucket.
  9. Once their predictions have been made, each group should actually count the types of each shell, and determine the total number of shells in their bucket.
  10. Ask each group to present its results to the rest of the class and create a graph of the class results.

Assessment

The following strategies may be used to assess Activity Three:

  • Use a rubric to evaluate student data sheets
  • Use a rubrics to evaluate each group's class presentation.
  • Using the K-W-L from Part One, ask students to complete the "L" section as a class.
  • Ask students to write a group poem by having each student in the group to write a two sentence analogy about his/her favorite shells and assemble the analogies into a class poem

Attachments

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FCAT Learning Activities- Science, 6 - 8

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Seashells are the exoskeletons of small invertebrate animals called mollusks. The shell is the outside skeleton that supports and protects the soft slippery body of the mollusk. Shells range in size from a grain of sand to the four foot, five hundred pound clams of the South Pacific Ocean. Some have beautiful shapes and bright colors, while others are plain and colorless.

Mollusks are an ancient group of organisms that have adapted to almost every environment on Earth. With more than 100,000 species, mollusks are the second largest animal phylum. Scientists classify mollusks by their shell type, foot structure, and internal body arrangement. Of the seven mollusk classes currently recognized five of these groups are considered to be seashells. These groups are:

a. Gastropods (Univalves) - These mollusks have a single shell. Most have a coiled shell shaped as a spiraled cone; although some (like limpets and slipper shells) have a cap-shaped shell. They have one chamber inside. Snails, periwinkles, whelks, and conches are gastropods.

b. Pelecypods (Bivalves) - These mollusks have two matching shells, or valves, hinged together. They include clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops.

c. Scaphopoda (Tooth shells) - These mollusks look like elephants' tusks. They are hollow tubes that curve slightly at one end, and are open at both end.

 

FCAT Learning Activities- Science, 6 - 8