Swim Through an Alphabet of Sea Creatures

Continuing our year-end theme of ocean animals, this week’s book is A Swim Through the Sea. Each page of this book presents a new species in alphabetical order with brilliantly colored illustrations, alliteration, and fascinating facts.

And it’s endorsed by Jacques Cousteau!

The following lesson plan is very versatile. It can be applied to any science topic or used as a year-end wrap up activity.

The book A Swim Through the Sea appeals to a large age range because there are two layers of text:

  • a line of large text for young children written in alliteration
  • a paragraph of  smaller text includes fascinating facts and vocabulary for more advanced readers

Suggested Grade Level: 1-5
I’ve even used this book with 7th-8th graders. They especially appreciated that the author/illustrator, Kristen Joy Pratt, was only 16 years old when this book was published!



  1. Read aloud the first three pages of A Swim Through the Sea (the large text only). Ask students to identify the pattern. Students will notice that many words in the sentence begin with the same letter of the alphabet as the sea creature illustrated on the page.
  2. Give a complete explanation of  alliteration. Ask students to pay attention to the alliteration in the book as you finish reading it aloud. As you read, ask students to notice the relationship between the alliterative text and the illustrations, for example “bright Blue Crab.”
  3. Write the letters A through Z on the board, and ask students to recall the sea creatures for each letter. Next to each creature, have them recall one or two adjectives that describe it. Refer to the text of the book as needed.
  4. Divide students into groups. Explain that these groups will create an illustrated picture book similar to A Swim Through the Sea. Their books will be based on a topic. (You may assign them a topic, such as a different habitat for each group, or you may allow groups to choose their own topic.)
  5. Have students brainstorm a list of items A-Z related to their topic. Then, following the book’s format, have them identify one or more adjectives for each item.
  6. Have the groups divide up the items among themselves to create the pages for their alphabet book. When the pages are completed, have the groups compile them and create a cover for their book.
  7. Organize a “Book Release Party” so the authors/illustrators can present several pages of their finished books to the entire class. To make it festive, provide refreshments.

Option for older students: Have students include a short paragraph of interesting information on their pages.
Option for an end-of-the-year project: Have each student in class identify several ideas/concepts they learned during the year. Working as a class, match a letter of the alphabet to one of each students’ ideas. Individually, students illustrate their page, including an alliterative sentence about their idea, an explanatory paragraph, and an illustration. The compiled book would then represent the learning for the entire year!

subscribe     Blog by Carol Malnor I love making connections: kids and nature, science and reading, fun and learning. I discovered the joy of connecting Dawn Publications' books with kids when I was a classroom teacher. Dawn's books were easy to incorporate into my lessons and the kids loved them. I used picture books with students of all ages, from primary school all the way up through 9th grade. Over the years, my relationship with Dawn changed and developed, and I authored Dawn’s Teacher’s Guides as well as writing books for children 4-14 years old. ARTICLE How to Use Creative Nonfiction Picture Books in Support of Common Core and Science ACTIVITIES Dawn Publications STANDARDS Common Core State Standards Next Generation Science Standards National Science Teachers Association Picture Perfect Science   OTHER FAVORITES Dawn Publications Children and Nature Network
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