Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha tells the story of a seven year old boy who worked with his family at their New England, waterfront food stand. On his way to work one day, the boy finds some pretty seaglass and a small jellyfish on the beach. After a busy day at the restaurant, his grandmother surprises him with a boat trip out to sea, where they experience the water filled with bioluminescent moonjellies. They release the one that the boy found.
This book is full of food. Wonderful, delicious food. I asked the kids to make a list of all the food items in the book, then pick a few that they’d like to have. One day we made popcorn, the old fashioned way, on the stove, so they could watch it pop through a glass-lidded pot. Another day, we picked up lobster rolls from a local restaurant and brought them home. Another day we made chocolate milk shakes for dessert.
We’ve been having fun lately, watching IMAX movies downloaded from Netflix. These are great educational videos for young elementary students, as they are an hour or less. Even my preschooler and toddler will sit for a while watching them. During our row of Moonjellies, we watched IMAX movies Coral Reef Adventure and Dolphins. We also have been enjoying the movie Ponyo for some time and this also has lots of sea creatures, including jellyfish.
We could’ve sat for hours watching all of the jellyfish and other underwater creatures on YouTube videos. They even have a clip of moonjellies here.
I’ve seen this jellyfish art project on a couple of different blogs, such as this one, so we thought we’d give it a try. It was like a FIAR miracle, because the kids and I watched the video and decided to make the watercolor and pastel jellyfish but we didn’t have those supplies. Then later that same day, a friend gave my kids a combined birthday present with exactly those supplies, plus three canvases. She also homeschools and uses Five in a Row but she had no idea we were planning on doing an art project that required those supplies. We joked that FIAR is really a cult, although a very educational and fun one. We are still working on this project. I painted an example, but Firefly decided to go his own direction with this art project and hasn’t yet completed it. The Queen Bee was very busy with some sort of elaborate set-up of her play horses when we were painting so she’ll paint her jellyfish at a later date.
One day, we set up our own version of Mar-Gra’s restaurant, named in the book, after two of the family members, Mary and Grace (thanks to Rivka at Tinderbox for this wonderful idea). I painted a sign and attached it to our outdoor playhouse. The kids wanted signs seen in the book, so we made those, too. They used our Cozy Coupe cars to represent the cars in the story that park in front of the restaurant.
The Queen Bee and Firefly painted a waterside scene, since Mar-Gra’s is a waterside restaurant.
My idea for this activity was that they would play with it much like the Hot Chocolate Cafe we made this winter, making the food and “selling” it, practicing their money and counting skills. Instead, what they did was to act out the entire book. They included so many details, it was quite impressive.
We had a great idea of how to end our “row”. We planned a trip to the National Aquarium in Baltimore, where they have a jellyfish exhibit and also a dolphin show that the kids wanted to see. Unfortunately, we planned it on Good Friday, and during what is Spring Break for many school districts. There also appeared to be a large number of teenage soccer-playing girls, Mennonite families and Orthodox Jewish families visiting the Inner Harbor area on this particular day. So many people, in fact, that we couldn’t get into the aquarium. The Creek Kids were quite disappointed, until they realized we could go to the Maryland Science Museum instead.
We hope to try to get to the aquarium next month, before public and private schools get out for the summer. I’ll post about our trip and link it to this post. So instead of the beautiful jellyfish photos I’d hoped to take and post here, you can see my dinosaur photos.
Here are two terrific blogs with some great posts about Night of the Moonjellies:
To learn more about Night of the Moonjellies author, Mark Shasha, visit his website. We enjoyed looking at some of his beautiful paintings and learning a bit more about him.