Monday, March 13, 2017


Lesson 12 of Apologia's Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the Fifth Day is all about "Cnidarians," that is, aquatic animals that pack a powerful sting.  In this lesson, we studied jellyfish, sea anemones, corals, and a few others like them.
We also used Apologia's Junior Zoology 2 Notebooking Journal to record what we learned, as we do with every lesson.
We did a study of jellyfish before in our literature curriculum when we read Night of the Moonjellies.  That post can be found at  The following three pictures are from that post.

This first one shows Maggie and her Daddy playing with a jelly in the tide pools outside of Seattle.
Here, Maggie is showing off her "Jellyfish in a Bottle" we made.
(She loved this!)
After we learned a bit about cnidarians from the text, including the difference between polyps and medusae, we did some work in our journal.
From there, we read about jellyfish, other jellylike animals that are not jellyfish (like box jellyfish and Portugese man-o-war), sea anemones, coral, and coral reefs.  From the text, we moved onto this gem, Life in a Coral Reef by Wendy Pfeffer.  (She never disappoints.)
Next, we watched the "Reef Magic" episode of The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! Ocean Commotion! DVD, about coral reefs.
You can find that same"Reef Magic" episode on YouTube at (below).
From there, we watched the "Takes a Dive" episode of The Magic School Bus at, also about coral reefs (below).
It was then time to see some actual video footage of life in a coral reef with this video at (below).

I had her complete a video review sheet (which I make on the computer) about it, which we placed in her notebook.
I saved the best book for last.  I have been so excited to pull out this Usborne Peek Inside Coral Reef pop-up book for this study and I was thrilled it was finally time!
These peek books are so neat!  they fold out completely to reveal a scene like this reef one.
Mags had fun using the booklet inside to find all the creatures hidden in the reef.
Love it!  It made it even better that we can identify most everything on these pages now, just from our learning out of this text!
There are a lot of great reef printables for your notebooking journal or lapbooks at  We printed the "Anatomy of a Coral Polyp" off of that site and added it to our journal.
I thought it would be fun to make a coral print.  I got the idea from, using a thin piece of styrofoam, a paint brush, paint in bright colors, a small paint roller, and a piece of white card stock.  First, Mags used the hard end of the paint brush to press a coral shape into the styrofoam.
Looks great, Mags!
Next, she globbed onto her foam some plops of the brightly colored paint.
After that, she rolled out the paint blobs over the entire surface of the foam.
She then turned the painted side over onto her piece of white card stock and pressed hard.
The result was beautiful!  We added her coral print to her journal, too.
I found a great article in December/January 2016's issue of Ranger Rick magazine about "Ready-made Reefs," ways people have purposely sunken old ships, train cars, and the like, to help corals build.
 Here are photos we found online of the same article.
 Corals really know how to decorate, don't they?
 Maggie found it hilarious that the corals have beautified this sunken toilet.  Also, she was tickled she could identify that this hawksbill sea turtle was snacking on soft corals.  (Do you see why I love Apologia?!)  It was a great article.
We continued to record everything we were learning about cnidarians.
We were fascinated to learn that the Portugese man-o-war is not one creature, but a colony of animals, linked together with different jobs to do.  Maggie found it funny that one of them had the job of the sail.  We found a video to watch on YouTube at (below).
After watching, we filled out another video review sheet for the journal.
 Meanwhile, we continued to complete the other activities in it.
 I love the minibooks!
The text challenged us to perform an experiment that would help us better understand deep ocean currents and how plankton and jellies depend on them to move around for food.  To do this, it challenged us to put very hot water in a large dish, followed by placing a frozen fruit pop on one side of the dish.
 It started to melt very quickly ...
 ... however we noticed that the stuff of the fruit pop stayed low, towards the bottom.
(Here is a side view.)  Why did it stay low?  Well, because of the temperature difference in the frozen pop and the water surrounding it.  Much like this, the deep water currents that push plankton and jellies around are caused by temperature differences between the cold water that is deep in the ocean and the warmer water that is near the surface.  
 We recorded the results of our experiment in our journal.
Finally, it was time to make our ocean critters for our ocean box.  Daddy tackled the saran wrap jellyfish ...
 ... while Maggie mastered the pipe cleaner sea anemones and corals.
 Looks great!
Only one more lesson left of this awesome text!  We are sad to see it go, but Botany is next!


  1. I enjoyed reading through your Swimming Creatures posts. Looks like this has been a very fun study. That pop up coral reef book in this lesson was really something! I LOVE the diarama box....what a fabulous, hands on way to tie things together! Between Flying Creatures and Swimming Creatures do you all have a favorite?? Looks like those journals are a nice addition too! You are very disciplined about locating fun sources to flesh out these lessons. Maggie is a lucky learner!!

    1. Hi, Brooke! I have to say that Swimming Creatures may have been our favorite, though we adored studying about birds in the first Zoology text and still use the things we learned from that study even a year later. Apologia really has it together. Thank you for the uplifting words! Hope you are well!