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I would like to tell you about a wonderful project that we created one year at school to raise awareness about our oceans and the creatures that inhabit them and have some fun.

We had a handicapped accessible hallway and turn it into an “Under the Sea Walk”.  With the help of our art and music teachers, our librarian, classroom teachers and aides the walls were painted with lively ocean characters, scuba divers, seaweed and kelp and above, birds that can be found near the ocean.  The students stenciled large schools of fish, starfish, crabs and other things you could find in the ocean on the walls. Paper seaweed and kelp were hung from the ceiling and the music department provided recordings of ocean sounds.  The library provided the students with all amount of information on oceans around the world, ocean conservancy and showed inviting films both factual and fiction that everyone enjoyed.  I especially liked The Little Mermaid.  We can learn a lot through fiction.


Think about an ocean project you could create at home or school.  Have you ever slept with an Octopus?!!!!!





Maintain a fish aquarium.   Find a local pet shop and find out about creating an aquarium.





Read lots of books about sea creatures and birds around the seas.  Did you know that some birds lay their eggs on land and then spend the rest of the year on the sea?  




After reading and watching movies about oceans visit a natural history museum or an aquarium near you.  Many aquariums were created to help injured or sick sea creatures and then return them to the sea.





Here are some wonderful websites you can visit for lots of valuable information and fun ideas for children, families and classroom activities.


These are just a few ideas.  I would love to hear yours and add them to the list for other readers.

ANDY FROM ORKNEY: A New Someone on Hoy


Andy from Orkney is a magical fantasy that takes place in the real setting of Hoy, Orkney, Scotland.   The story and themes of the book are appropriate for children of preschool and elementary school ages.


Andy the bear and his best friend Emma have moved to the ancient and magical island of Hoy off the northern coast of Scotland.  Their arrival causes great concern and anxiety among the creatures of Hoy.  They ultimately must decide how to establish whether Andy is a friend or foe.


Comprehension & Discussion Questions:


1.  Who and what is Andy?   Why are the creatures of Hoy so upset about Andy’s arrival and what are their reactions?


2.  Which creature or creatures do you think are most upset by Andy’s arrival and why?


3.  Discuss the differences in the personalities of Ragnor, Finlay, Magnus, Fiona and Fenella, Guilby.


4.  What do the creatures decide to do about Andy?   Is there any one creature that has the best idea or do they all participate in      deciding  what to do?


5.  When Andy wakes up in his new home why is he so “blue”?  Have you ever moved?  How did you feel about moving?


6.  Describe what the characters realize when they finally meet one another.   What is it like to meet someone new and be a newcomer?  In what ways does flying Kite help establish a friendly environment?


7.  Why is everyone so relieved when they find out that honey is Andy ‘s favorite thing to eat?


8.  When Kite is lost describe how everyone works together to retrieve him from the Old Man. Why are they able to tie strings to Andy and  lift him up to the Old Man?  Is Andy a real bear?  Do they learn anything new about each other?


9.  Who or what exactly is the Old Man. Is he as fearsome as everyone thought? What do the Old Man and Andy have in common?


10. Have you ever been afraid of someone or something you don’t know a lot about?   Did that change?  If so, how?


11. What is being brave?  Who was brave in the story?


12. What is respect toward another?   Were the creatures respectful of each other, of the Old Man?



Geography and Nature and History of Orkney


On a world map locate Orkney as seen on the map on page 5.  Describe what an island is and what it might be like to live on an island.  How do people travel to islands.  Both of these sites link you to the major ferries that serve Orkney.


Discuss the animal and bird characters of the story and where they live, what they eat. You may talk about the environmental concerns regarding various species of birds and fish.  As an example did you know that the sand eels that puffins like Finlay and Preston like to eat are disappearing.  


A wonderful source of information on the exceptional birdlife of Hoy can be found by contacting the Royal Society for the Preservation of Birds  RSPB  This office is located in Stromness, Orkney.


Orkney is famous for its World Heritage site the Ness of Brodgar, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney and considered one of the densest collections of ancient monuments in Britain, (National Geographic, Aug, 2014). Other sites include the 5000 year old Stones of Stenness and recreated Skara Brea, Maes Howe, the Tomb of the Eagles.


Discover the Orkney’s early Pict and Viking history and the important capital of the Norse history with the great St. Magnus Cathedral in the city of Kirkwall on



Other sites for information about Orkney:








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