Waves 2

Want to guess what type of wave this is? Then you need to know the four terms: wavelength, period, source, and depth of influence.

Want to guess what type of wave this is? Then you need to know the four terms: wavelength, period, source, and depth of influence.

Here’s the second in the lesson on waves. In this lesson we are focused entirely on 4 terms: period, wavelength, depth of influence, and source.


The period of a wave is the time it needs to complete one cycle.

If it takes less than a second, that is called a ripple.

From 1-10 seconds it is a chop.

From 10-30 seconds it is a swell.

From 5-90 minutes it is a tsunami wave.


Wavelength is the distance between two crests.

The most important thing to know is that a swell can have a wavelength of up to 100 meters. The smaller the wavelength, the closer to shore the wave is – usually.

Under 2 cm it is a ripple.

From 2cm – 10m it is a chop.

Up to 100 m it is a swell.

Anything larger than a swell falls into the tsunami category.

Depth of Influence

The depth of influence is how deep the wave influences the water underneath it. A wave with a large depth of influence will influence water much deeper than the wave. Ripples influence very little underneath them.

A ripple has a very shallow depth of influence.

A chop has a shallow depth of influence, less than half its wavelength.

A swell has a depth of influence that is roughly 1/2 of the wavelength.

A tsunami has a depth of influence that reaches to the bottom of the ocean floor.


All waves – except tsunamis – come from movement of the air above them, or something in the ocean. A tsunami is formed because of violent movement of the earth. These violent movements are things like landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.

How we practiced these…..

So now that you know the definitions, how do you practice them?

We played a game to practice depth of influence. The depth of influence game goes like this:

1. I call out a type of wave.

2. The kids reach down to the floor, or close to it, depending on how far the depth of influence extends.

So when I said “tsunami,” the kids reached all the way to the floor.

Practicing wavelength and period

For these I simply drew a series of waves on paper and handed them to the kids. Each kid got a color. Nicholas first had to draw a line from one point to the next to represent period. Then Abby got to tell him if he was right. We switched roles with wavelength. Then we switched back. Then they got to tell me what lines to draw – and I purposefully drew them wrong to see if they would correct me.


Once again for the finale we went to the beach and got in the waves we were talking about. Nicholas decided that chops were the best for his boogie board because they “came quick enough, and had a short wavelength,” so he could get in a lot of waves. Abby decided she liked the ripples because they wouldn’t get her wet.


Waves 1.

We live right by the ocean, and so we are learning about waves. Mostly I learn about waves, and then when we are at the beach, the kids and I talk about waves. We get in the waves and name the parts of a wave, and talk about how they come about. So here’s the first lesson on waves. Keep in mind these are lessons on ocean waves, not the physics idea of a wave.


Definition of a wave: Waves are the forward movement of the ocean’s water due to the movement of the water particles by the frictional drag of the wind over the water’s surface.

What makes different waves? Waves are all different. They can be different because of different winds, boats, the shape of the ocean floor, earthquakes, and other outside forces. Even you can make waves!

Swells versus waves. Swells are the regular motion of waves in an open ocean. Swells can range in size. But they travel in open ocean. They do not “break” and “crash.”

Breakers. Breakers are the waves that crest, and then crash into the shore. They come in all different shapes and sizes. The difference between the breakers depends on the shape of the ocean floor beneath them, the riptide pulling back out, and the energy in the wave itself.

Parts of a wave. Each wave has the same parts. They can change in size, but all waves have a crest and a trough. The crest is the top of the wave, the part that reaches the highest point. The trough is the lowest point of the wave under the still water.

Draw a wave

Here are the parts of an ocean wave. We focused on the crest and trough in this lesson. It's only the first lesson - we just stuck with the basics.

Here are the parts of an ocean wave. We focused on the crest and trough in this lesson. It’s only the first lesson – we just stuck with the basics.

Now that we have covered what a wave is, some different types of waves, and the two main parts of a wave, it is time to draw a wave!!!

All you need is markers (or crayons, paint, or your favorite art medium). Each student takes a piece of paper and draws a wave.

Then you label the crest and the trough, as well as write down if it is a swell, a breaker, or a different type of wave.

Nicholas drew huge breakers. Abby drew a ship and a wake for her waves. With dolphins underneath – so she wanted them to be swells, because they were in the open ocean. But it ended up being a wake because it was caused by a ship.

Visiting the waves

At the end of our lesson, we packed up and headed to the beach. We got into the ocean and yelled “crest” when we were in the crest of a wave and “trough” when we were in the trough of a wave. I also made my kids identify why the waves we were in are breakers and not a different type of wave.



Ocean animals: Review and wrap up.

Nicholas likes crawling through a sea turtle's shell.

Nicholas likes crawling through a sea turtle’s shell.

We are finishing sea animals with a quick review today and moving on. I made a crossword with one of those random crossword generators. The great thing about crosswords is that they can test knowledge, teach spelling, and work on handwriting all at the same time.

Here are the clues I used for the crossword:

Octopus: Has 8 arms
Coral: Groups of small organisms that make a reef
Water: What the ocean is made of
Jellyfish: Has long tentacles and no bones
Waves: Movement of ocean water
Ocra: Black and white whale
Kelp: Anchored in rocka and grows in forests
Dolphin: A smart mammal that swims in pods
Walrus: Likes cold water and has lots of fat to keep it warm
Fish: Swims in schools
Sand: Found on the bottom of the ocean


Our next set of lessons is going to be on the 5 senses and finishing our orchestra lessons. At any given time, we have two themes going on so I get to choose between the various themes to make things fun. Also, I get to find various worksheets. I like making my own worksheets, but I also don’t like reinventing the wheel.

What else are we doing?

We are working on math out  of the 2nd grade textbook and practicing place values.

For writing and reading we are working off these worksheets on education.com. He likes these sentence worksheets because they give a topic, and help you draw the animal at the bottom. I also print one off for Abby and she writes all over the page, tries to draw the animal, and tries to trace the letters.

All of our art projects this week will be Valentine’s Day themed. We will be writing valentines to our family and friends, and making wonderful pictures to decorate with.

Ocean lessons: more creatures of the sea.

Here's a picture of part of our ocean wall. The whole thing takes up a lot of space on our wall, but this shows how we are doing.

Here’s a picture of part of our ocean wall. The whole thing takes up a lot of space on our wall, but this shows how we are doing.

We are finishing up ocean lessons this week. I haven’t been very good about posting everything online (sorry). But here’s the general format we have taken:

1. Pick an animal

2. Find facts on the animal and a coloring page for the animal (generally from the Learning Page)

3. Read facts to kids while the kids color the animal

4. Kids cut out the animal and stick it on our ocean wall

5. We point to all the animals and say their names, what they eat, what a family of them is called, and their names in German

6. Then we go to the Kids National Geographic site and watch their videos of the animals and listen to what the animals sound like

This format has worked for us – very well. The kids know what is expected of them while we are doing our animal lessons. What is more, we can play the “Vo ist?” game with the animals because we know their names in German (I say, “Vo ist……” and they point to the right animal).

After we do our lesson on animals, we go do our math and other worksheets. I’ve started a box of file folders – Abby has one pattern and Nicholas has the other. Abby’s are numbered (1 = Monday, 2= Tuesday) and Nicholas’ have the days of the week on them. I put all the worksheets into them on Sunday night, and they do them every day after the animal lesson. We have math, reading, writing, and phonics worksheets. I also include a maze, logic problem, and dot-to-dot in each one. The kids get to decide the order we do them in. I set the timer for 10 minutes and we go. After 10 minutes we play for 10 minutes, then work again. We do this cycle until the worksheets are done. The system has been working out well for us.

Here’s the list of animals we have done:

Starfish, penguin, sea lion, coral, kelp, whale, orca, dolphin, fish, octopus, walrus, shark, sea turtle (which has the longest name in German ever), jellyfish, eel, and sting ray.

Ocean lessons: Sea turtles.

Here's the aquarium that's pinned to the wall. I imagine we are going to need more blue paper - water - as we study more things.

Here’s the aquarium that’s pinned to the wall. I imagine we are going to need more blue paper – water – as we study more things.

The lesson on sea turtles was not that big of a success. The kids didn’t find them that fascinating and were not into participating in the project, but here’s the lesson anyways:

First, we got onto National Geographic for Kids and looked at their sea turtle page. The kids loved the picture of the green sea turtle, but didn’t like the other turtles as much. Abby said, “Why not green,” about the brown sea turtles. My ever articulate son said, “They look like the color of poop.” Lovely description. But we looked around and learned about them.

I found a sea turtle coloring page by googling, “Sea turtle coloring page.” They colored while I read the facts of the green sea turtle off the Internet. Then we looked at more pictures of the turtles’ shells and I said, “Look, their shells have shapes on them.” We started naming shapes on the shells.

Then I handed the kids cut out sea turtles to draw their own shells on. Abby simply scribbled, Nicholas tried making a shell with shapes. Then we stuck them on our aquarium wall.

Our word practices for the day were: leaf, herbivore, turtle, shell, and shape.

We are in review mode for math because I picked up a 2nd grade math book and we are going to start that next week. So we reviewed addition facts 1-5.

%d bloggers like this: