Forget apple pie, baseball and pick up trucks, the most American of institutions is returning to the small screen next week and anticipation is hitting fever point around here! Shark Week’s 30th anniversary event starts on Sunday July 22nd and we’ve got fin-tastic fun for all, whichever side of the ocean you’re watching from…
Having only ever had Freeview (not satellite or cable) in the UK, the Discovery Channel was actually one of my first great new TV discoveries after our move to the US. My boys and I still have strong allegiances to the BBC and a certain Sir Attenborough, not all nature documentaries are created equal, but we do love Shark Week!
For newbies to the concept, and this is really only my third year of it, the channel dedicates a whole week of airtime to the awesome creatures of the deep (and shallows – sharks live in every type of ocean apparently). While programming does still rely on slightly blood thirsty sensationalism it has in recent years been more geared towards facts, scientific understanding, and conservation. Many species of these 400 million year old creatures are endangered, and their loss would change the shape of Earth’s oceans unimaginably, education is key to helping protect their future. We’ll be hunting out the best of both the classic and new Shark Week shows.
Last year one of the highlights had to be ‘Shark School With Michael Phelps’ and ‘Phelps vs Shark’ where the Olympian travelled to Bimini shark lab to learn everything shark, including how to dive safely with hammerheads, and was then pitted in a time trial against a great white. Watched on repeat though, our favorite documentary was ‘Monster Hammerhead’ (first aired 08/11-2014) which followed up 60 year old reports of 20ft long hammerhead sharks in the waters off Florida’s coast line. The scientists discussed the method and technology involved in tracking the largest hammerheads they could find and inspired both a hammerhead Halloween costume and shark themed birthday party in this household!
To get everyone in the mood for some timely shark spotting here’s a couple of our most jawsome build-up activities. (I wonder how many times I can use that pun this week!?)
We’ve also cleared out the shark shelf at the local library and browsed downtown to draw up a bookstore wish list. We’ll be reading all this week to bring you a round up of the best books and hunting down the best sounding TV right at the start of next week. I know not everyone will have access to Shark Week on the TV but I hope you’ll still join in with the fun and learning online (there are plenty of vides on the Discovery website) or on paper!
So, first off…
Get Your Teeth Into Some Shark Bark!
Our lovely friends brought us back a tasty treat from their day trip to Albanese Candy Factory right around the same time our UK cousins flew out with essential British chocolate supplies. I’d seen something similar to this bark online but am not a fan of ‘Candy Melts’ chocolate so the arrival of Milky Bar was a fabulous opportunity to merge cultural treats! We threw them together and made something we could really get out teeth into! It’s super easy, so why not make some too?
I didn’t measure anything, it’s a make it up as you go / use up what you’ve got kind of thing. But here’s roughly what went into our bark.
- White Chocolate – one bar / pack of whatever you like best
- Blue food color – one tiny blob (And in the UK)
- Blue Gummi Sharks (As close as I could find in the UK or these)
- Sprinkles! (UK) – Our were left over from the 4th but any on theme color will do…
Melt the white chocolate 30 seconds at a time in the microwave, stir and repeat until it is pourable. White chocolate has a high sugar content so can burn easily, hence the cautious approach.
Put a few spoons into a sperate bowl and mix with a small amount of blue or teal food coloring.
Spread the rest of the still white chocolate on to grease proof paper or baking parchment and spread. Add small blobs and drizzles of the blue on top. Marble the blue into the white with a skewer, tooth pick or corn cob holder – whatever you can find!
Squish the blue shark gummies onto the still soft chocolate, add some red sprinkles or candy and put in the fridge to set.
Cut or break of into pieces and eat chilled – or at room temperature if, like mine, your fussy children don’t like the sharks to be cold and hard!
Get Your Fingers in the Water
A little bit of small world play helped fill a summer afternoon while big brother was in camp this week. I simply put a few scoops of play sand in one side of the water table (equally you could use a shallow container) and a tiny bit of teal food color in the water of the opposite side. We then added shells (UK) and some of our shark collection. (I’ve been asked several times where I got our sea life figures. Our sharks have been gathered over the years I’m really not sure where from! However, I’m thinking of expanding with these or these. And in the UK or these also look great).
I modeled a few fun seaside scenarios with the Playmobil figures and dinghy (UK) and then left little brother to explore. He was soon off in his own world feeding the sharks sand and sinking more shells. We did discuss what different sharks might actually eat but he was pretty sure his ate sand!
Oh well. By the time the wheelbarrow got in on the action it was definitely time for me to duck out…
If you are after more crafty shark ideas hop on over to my Pinterest page where I’ve been gathering the best from the net.
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