Catch!...the World's Oceans
Adapted from Water Cycle Lesson, and used with permission.
Children get to know each other through an icebreaker activity that introduces the importance of water on Earth. They stand in a circle and toss a soft Earth globe (such as an inflatable or stuffed globe), noting with each catch that his or her (left or right) index finger usually touches an ocean rather than land. The percentage of Earth covered by oceans — roughly three quarters, or 71% — can be tallied by keeping track of the number of “land” and “ocean” contacts during the game.
What's the Point?
- Water is an important characteristic or part of Earth.
- Oceans cover most (roughly three quarters, or 71%) of the Earth’s surface.
- Oceans play an important role in weather and climate all over the world, even in locations far from the coast.
- An area large enough for the children to be able to comfortably mingle and where a ball can be safely tossed
For Each Group of 15 Children
- 1 inflatable Earth globe, or a Hugg-a-Planet Earth
- Optional: 1 calculator
For the FacilitatorBackground information
- Ask the children what they know about water.
- How do you use water in your daily life? It is a drink; it’s used for cooking, cleaning, and washing; the grass that we play on and plants that we eat use it to grow; etc.
- Where is water found on Earth (at or below the surface)? In our oceans, lakes, rivers, and groundwater (and frozen as snow and ice — such as in glaciers, ice caps, and sea ice). Plants and animals — including people — have water inside them.
- Where is water found in the air? Water is also rain, the tiny droplets that make up clouds, and frozen as snow, hail, and ice. Water is also a gas in our atmosphere (water vapor).
(Note that some children will point with their right index fingers, others will point with their left, or some other variation depending on the child and his or her physical abilities. The children can use any single point on their bodies to keep track during the game…as long as they are consistent!)
- For children ages 5 to 7, begin by discussing what the different colors on the ball mean (i.e. land or ocean). Then tell the children that they take turns tossing the ball to each other. When someone catches the ball, (s)he will shout “ocean” or “land,” thank the previous circle member by name, and state his or her own name. Each child will then toss the ball to someone in the circle who hasn’t had a turn, and move outside of the circle to join either an “ocean” line or a “land” line, depending on where his/her finger landed on the globe. Two lines will form as the game progresses. The game ends after each child has had a turn.
Which line is longer? Why? The “ocean” line is likely to be longer, because the Earth has more oceans than land on its surface.
- For children ages 8 to 13, have one of the children also serve as record keeper. Tell the children that they take turns tossing the ball to each other. When someone catches the ball, (s)he will shout “ocean” or “land,” thank the previous circle member by name, and state his or her own name. Each child will then toss the ball to someone in the circle who hasn’t had a turn. The record keeper will tally the number of “land” and the number of “ocean” contacts.
If needed, repeat the game three or more times to gather more data. If repeating, challenge the children to remember the order in which the ball is tossed — as well as the names of the circle members they each receive from and toss the ball to. Finally, calculate the percentage of “ocean” contacts (using a calculator, if desired).
- What is the percentage of “ocean” contacts for our group?
- How much of Earth’s surface do you think is actually covered by water? Accept all answers.
- How does that compare to what we calculated during the game?
Water is an important characteristic or part of our planet!