How to Use the Sharks Online Unit Study in Your Homeschool

How to Use the Sharks Online Unit Study in Your Homeschool

Many of you in the homeschool community are familiar with the Discovery Channel's Shark Week. Did you know it's been airing every July since 1988? It's pretty sensational. I have created a real goodie for you either before, during, after Shark Week or whenever, whether you watch Shark Week or not.

shark week

Let's dive into this topic and how you can use NatureGlo's free Sharks Online Unit Study in your homeschool today!

But first, some background information about sharks.

Why Study Sharks?

Sharks and humans have a long standing fascination-love-hate relationship. Since ancient times, sharks have been depicted in art, story-telling, poetry, songs, books, movies (*coughs, Jaws) interwoven throughout human history. This study affords the homeschool shark enthusiast a banquet of learning opportunities that can make even the most dry-as-dust-boring subject come to life for your child. 

What Exactly are Sharks?

Sharks, are from a group of vertebrate (with backbones) animals known as the "cartilaginous fish". They are from order, Chondrichthyes, which is divided up into two groups called subclasses. They are further divided up into two groups called Elasmobranchii (sharks, rays, sawfish, and skates) and the Holocephali or chimaera or ghost sharks.  

Here's a nifty looking poster showing you all of the 8 major existing shark orders.

Image credit: Chris Huh


Shark Characteristics

  • Skeletons made of cartilage - Granules of calcium carbonate on the outside of the cartilage add strength. The mosaic granule pattern is unique. 
  • Jaws
  • Paired fins
  • Paired nostrils
  • Lack a swim bladder found in most bony fishes

There are some remarkable varieties that hardly look like sharks. Take, for example, the Tasselled wobbegong! Do you think they look like sharks at all?




How to Use NatureGlo's Sharks Online Unit Study

NatureGlo's (that's me) Sharks Online Unit Study is an opportunity for you to incorporate some exciting marine biology studies in your homeschool while covering other academics. This study covers the biology of sharks including the following subjects:

  • Science connection - DK Find Out shark body map interactive. Video: Shark Deterrent: Stripes Tested by Cousteau and Dr. Eugenie Clark Video 
  • Literature connection - The Story of Eugenie Clark, famed marine biologist and ichythologist (study of fish)
  • History connection - Study the works of famed turn of the 19th century zoologist Bashford Dean. Bashford's books about fish, specifically sharks, were THE most well-written and most accurate for its time. We study his work as an important historical figure and body of knowledge in human understanding of shark biology at that time. We look at remarkable historical writings compiled from Dean's notes after his death. We use an embeded digital book about called Archaic fish and learn about the Frilled shark. It's amazing to these historical writings and read about Frilled sharks. 
  • Art connection - Look through shark paintings through the ages since ancient times. Create chalk shark art.
  • Geography connection - study a world map and click through different locations around the world to learn about shark species in that geographic range.
  • Writing connection - students can create interesting scientific stories about sharks with two fun writing prompts. They can also create shark poetry from a list of poetry types with examples.
  • Math connection - Students study the numbers of Frilled shark teeth from four shark specimens using Bashford Dean's actual 1920's Frilled shark teeth data chart. 
NatureGlo's Sharks Online Unit Study


  1. After you enroll in the course, read through the rest of this blog. This blog offers lesson enhancing information and how to best go through the lessons.
  2. Start with the first lesson, NatureGlo's Prezi presentation video.
  3. Do the Prezi Quizlet
  4. Go through the rest of the course's lessons either in order or in any order you and your learner want.
  5. At the end of the course, your student will earn a fun digital award. 

Science Connection - Shark Body Map Interactive and Jacques Cousteau and Eugenie Clark Shark Test 


Shark behavior testing led to innovative wetsuit design

Images credit: Left image: Jacques Cousteau. Right image: SAMS

After students view my Prezi presentation about sharks, they go through the DK Find Out shark body map interactive. These fun DK interactives give students the opportunity to learn fascinating facts in a fun and visual way.

Next, in the science study, students view a short 3-minute video called, Shark Deterrent: Stripes Tested by Cousteau and Dr. Eugenie Clark. You get to watch as Eugenie Clark and the Cousteau crew work with ferocious sharks to see if they can tempt them out of their "fear" of horizontal stripes. Further investigation into this phenomena of the sharks fear, yields knowledge that they are afraid of horizontal strips for good reason!

Literature connection - The Story of Dr. Eugenie Clark (1922 - 2015)

Eugenie Clark - The Shark Lady

Dr. Eugenie Clark 1922 - 2015 - famous for her pioneering work in shark behavior.

Studying the life of famed ichythologist (study of fish), Dr. Eugenie Clark, is an enriching learning experience for children. Eugenie was born in New York city. As a young girl, she became fascinated by marine life after visiting New York City's Battery Park aquarium. Undeterred, by the attitude and idea at the time that women should only be home raising families, Eugenie graduated with her degrees until she earned her doctorate. She wrote two books, Lady with a Spear (1953) and The Lady and the Sharks (1969).

History connection  - Bashford Dean (1867 - 1928) and his historical contribution to the study of marine fish


Bashford Dean

Dr. Bashford Dean (1867 - 1928)

Study the works of famed turn of the 19th century zoologist Bashford Dean. We look at his remarkable work using a digital book entitled Archaic Fish, memorializing Dr. Dean's writings about fish. Students do some light reading from the chapter about the Frilled shark. It's amazing to see these historical biological writings and read about Frilled sharks.

Art Connection - Shark Art Through the Ages & Shark Chalk Art

Our Country's Fishes and How to Know Them

During the Art connections lesson, students look through shark paintings through the ages since ancient times. They can create simple, fun and creative chalk shark art.

Motivating and inspiring kids to do shark art

In the second assignment, students can create unique, yet, simple chalk artwork. Using easy to follow steps from a teacher-artist's blog, students can come up with beautiful works of shark chalk art.

Geography Connection - Building Familiarity with the World Map and Specific Geographic Ranges of Student Favorite Sharks 

Shark world map

Map image credit: Shark.ch

Students study a world map and click through different locations around the world to learn about shark species within that geographic range. Incorporating geography connections with a favorite subject such as sharks can boost student geography skills as they click around an interactive map looking at various shark species. This familiarizes them (if they aren't already) with the world map and shark species around the world. I ask them questions that get them researching their favorite shark(s) and their geographic range(s). Students record three facts about their chosen shark within the comments section found beneath the lesson.

Writing Connection - Creative Fiction or Non-fiction Stories About Student Favorite Sharks 

Homeschool Shark Story Writing

Image From the book, Fish Stories Alleged and experienced with a little history natural and unnatural (1909).

Students can create interesting scientific or not so scientific stories about sharks. I give two fun one-paragraph writing prompts to get their creative writing juices flowing. Students can also create shark poetry from a list of poetry types with examples. Writing about a favorite topic such as sharks can help motivate your learner to really get into their writing. It opens the door for in-depth research, creativity, writing practice, and honing the ever-important skill of writing.

Math Connection - Studying and Answering Mathematical Questions about Bashford Dean's Frilled Shark Teeth Data Table

frilled shark

The deep sea Frilled shark. Image credit: Citron / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Frilled Shark Teeth Math with Bashford Dean

Students study the numbers of Frilled shark teeth from four shark specimens using an actual 1920's Frilled shark teeth data chart. Students use basic math (addition, subtraction, and multiplication). Younger and older students can appreciate the challenge it poses since they'll be using a real data cart from the early 1900's, thus fostering a unique historical and mathematical connection.

NatureGlo's Sharks Online Unit Study

I hope to see you on the inside. i'd love to read your thoughts about this study. Scroll down and leave a comment regarding this sharks unit study. 


Until next time,

Gloria aka NatureGlo

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