Backyard aquarium

Henry has been learning about the ocean in school, and he is completely running with it, so to speak. He has been drawing and cutting out dozens of different ocean creatures, and telling us facts about each one. He drew a complex chart of the life cycle of a coral colony and brought it to school to teach his classmates, then a few days later made a life-size drawing of a nurse shark to show them (his teacher said, “He’s like my assistant teacher!”).

He spent a good deal of time wrangling the neighborhood posse into taping his creatures onto the back fence, so we’d have our own outdoor aquarium (that’s the nurse shark on the right in the top photo).

One thing I love about kid obsessions is when you learn a whole bunch of new stuff yourself. Like Dave and I were surprised to learn that the starfish (or sea star, depending on how itchy you are about the “fish” verity in your terminology) are the most insane creature on the face of the earth, just about. Some alarming starfish facts:

  • Starfish have eyes at the end of each arm. They can’t see with these eyes, though. (How that makes them eyes, I have no idea.)
  • A starfish can eat kind of large sea life, like crabs. It just suctions on and doesn’t let go, and pretty soon the crab is eaten.
  • If a starfish is disturbed, it may throw off an arm. A new arm will regenerate in about a year. And a new starfish will generate from the broken-off arm.
  • When eating something such as a clam, the starfish opens the clam shell a tiny bit, and then pushes its stomach outside of its body and into the clam shell. And then digests the clam while its stomach is still outside its body.

(All crazy starfish facts from a nicely illustrated book called Where the Waves Break: Life at the Edge of the Sea by Anita Malnig.)

Comments (6)

  1. Clog June 9, 2009 at 7:26 am

    I love it! Now I see why you were obsessed with your tape not being in the backyard when I was on the phone with you the other day! What is the colorful thing against the upright post?

  2. liz June 9, 2009 at 7:43 am

    aw, SO sweet. reminds me of my bean, who wanted to be a marine biologist when she was five!

  3. Julie June 9, 2009 at 11:30 am

    The colorful thing is a seahorse that Henry made at school. It has some kind of colored sand that looks toxic, but is very bright and cheery. There’s also a made-at-school starfish to the right of the nurse shark. The starfish is cut out of brown paper and has dried rice glued on it, which is surprisingly realistic, starfish-wise.

  4. Sarah June 9, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    This is great!

  5. Elizabeth June 9, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    That’s fantastic…glad to see that Henry got the posse involved in something healthy and positive, too!

  6. emily June 9, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    love this is his chosen media: cut-paper sculpture. interesting how early they find the thing to express themselves. wylie’s is currently, er, mess.

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