Coral Reef activities

Coral Reef
Jason Chin

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, p2011, c2011
Dewey: 577.7
ATOS Reading Level: 6.4

From the Publisher: During an ordinary visit to the library, a girl pulls a not-so-ordinary book from the shelves. As she turns the pages in this book about coral reefs, the city around her slips away and she finds herself surrounded by the coral cities of the sea and the mysterious plants and animals that live, hunt, and hide there. Jason Chin's follow-up to his critically acclaimed book, Redwoods, is a bold and beautiful picture storybook filled to the brim with fascinating facts about the coral reefs.

Author: Website


Jason Chin in the Galapagos
Jason Chin in the Galapagos
Jason Chin in the Galapagos
Jason Chin is the author and illustrator of the acclaimed books Redwoods and Coral Reefs. His other work includes illustrations for Where Do Polar Bears Live? and Simon Winchester’s The Day the World Exploded.
Jason grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, and studied illustration at Syracuse University. In 2001 he moved to New York City and found a job at a children’s bookstore in Manhattan.

Other books Jason Chin has written and illustrated:
Redwoods - Cover
Redwoods - Cover


Written and illustrated by Jason ChinRoaring Brook Press/Flashpoint, March 15, 2009
Island: A Story of the Galapagos - Cover
Island: A Story of the Galapagos - Cover

Island: A Story of the Galapagos

Other Books Jason Chin has illustrated:

Where Do Polar Bears Live?

The Master Detective Handbook: Help Our Detectives Use Gadgets & Super Sleuthing Skills to Solve the Mystery & Catch the Crooks

Chinese New Year

The Master Spy Handbook: Help Our Intrepid Hero Use Gadgets, Codes & Top-Secret Tactics to Save the World from Evil Doers

The Day the World Exploded: The Earthshaking Catastrophe at Krakatoa

From the blog Six Trait Gurus 4/2012
In the Classroom
1. Background. Ask students what they may already know about coral reefs and ocean life. Have any/all of your students been to an ocean, played in the sand, or hopped waves on the beach? Have any of them been snorkeling in the ocean or around a coral reef? Have any of your students visited an ocean aquarium? Have you? What was the experience like? Your students may have extensive background knowledge about specific sea creatures –turtles, sharks, or eels. Use that as a starting point to talk about the plant and animal life of coral reefs.

2. Reading. As always, read the book before sharing it with your students. I see a couple different ways to share it. You could share only the pictures first, generating both a list of specific plants and animals they notice and questions they have. Follow this with a reading of both text and pictures looking and listening for answers to their questions. Another approach would be to reverse the order of reading just described—text first to generate questions, then both text and illustrations. A document camera would be a great tool to use to zoom in on picture details and word details in individual sentences.

3. Detail. As you read, what do you and your students learn about coral reefs that you did not know before? List some of the details and vocabulary that are new to your students or that they find interesting or helpful. (As you know, the Common Core Standards for informational writing emphasize detail.) Look closely for details in the illustrations, as well. Look very closely at the titles of the books on the library shelves. The author/illustrator took a lot of time and care to create a realistic collection of books. If they are not familiar with some of the classics included, highlight a few for them—Robinson Crusoe, The Odyssey, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Treasure Island, Moby Dick, Captain Blood, The Voyage of the Beagle, etc. (Some of your students may even want to find one or more of these books in your school or community library.)

4. Main idea. Another strategy to really emphasize the information the author is sharing is to isolate all or a portion of the text from the illustrations—look at just the words, as if it were a report. Did the author choose the right kind and right amount of information to help us understand his big ideas? Yes, it’s even better with the illustrations, but does the text stand alone?
What is the author’s main idea? (The CC Standards demand a clear main idea or thesis statement in informational writing.) Where and how does the writer let readers know about his main idea?

5. Organization. Again, you could isolate portions of the text to emphasize important elements of organization. You and your students could examine the introduction, conclusion, transitions/transitional language within or between paragraphs. How does author Chin begin? How does he end? How does he build bridges between big ideas? Be sure your students also experience all the extras this book offers once the “story” is complete—a piece from the author called “The Threat to Coral Reefs,” Cross-section drawings, More facts, Author’s note, and additional information sources. These are all examples of presentation features they could add to their own writing.

6. Word choice. As the “experts” on their topics, writers need to help readers become experts as well, without overwhelming them with too much specialized or technical vocabulary. Writers have to know their audience and purpose, and then choose their words carefully to guide readers through what could be a new topic for them. This book does not have a glossary, a helpful tool for readers to keep track of new words and terminology. So, how about creating one? Read through each sentence and paragraph carefully with your students (or have them work with a partner or small group), looking for words that are the keys to understanding the topic—polyp, algae, lagoon etc., words that may be new to them—rigid, decay, etc., or words that are nearly new to them—species, navigating, environment, etc. Students could provide a simple definition, a sentence to place the word in context, and/or even a picture to help with reader understanding.

7. Writing. This book is a fantastic introduction to the topic but not the final word on coral reefs. Students could work individually, with a partner, or in small groups to write about coral reefs or one of the many creatures living in and around the reef. The writing could begin with and extend some of the information from the book, or could recount a personal experience with the ocean, beach, or a new idea connected to coral reefs. Student writers may need to do further research to become even more of a topic “expert.” The possibilities for writing are as wide and deep as the ocean—poetry, writing from the perspective of the girl in the book or a sea creature, a piece focusing more on a specific inhabitant of the reef, and so on. Before writing, help your students with the appropriate voice for their writing by thinking about their audience. Are they writing for classmates? Parents or other adults? Younger students?

8. Further research/Persuasive writing. As was suggested previously, students should see all the extras in the back, especially the author’s informative/persuasive piece, “The Threat to Coral Reefs.” Students may want to learn more about how they can help conserve and save coral reefs even if they don’t live anywhere near one. Each of the author’s suggestions for being “part of the solution” to the threat to reefs could be a launching point for a persuasive piece of their own. These could take the form of traditional persuasive essays or could be more of a public service campaign with students creating ads, posters, slogans, speeches, etc. Don’t overlook the value of firsthand research, though. You may be lucky enough to live close enough for a field trip to an ocean, aquarium, museum, or research center, like the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport, Oregon. (They even allow groups of students to have sleepovers in the aquarium—“Sleep With the Sharks.” Wow!) Ask your students if they think Jason Chin has explored a coral reef first hand. How does this kind of up close and personal research affect his writing?

Online Resources:

Healthy Coral Reef - 3:33 mins It's one of the most pristine & beautiful coral reefs the Earth-Touch crews have seen! Experience the diverse animal & plant life that thrives in this healthy coral-reef environment - it's rare to see unspoilt nature like this! ©2009

Reef acts as magnet for colourful fish - 4:35 mins

The vibrant red of the tomato rockcod and the striking stripes of tiny catfish make Bass City Reef come alive for cameraman Barry Skinstad.

Video of Coral Reef- 6:42 mins Experience the diversity of pristine coral-reef environments in HD. From densely populated reefs to busy cleaning stations, the Earth-Touch crew encounters a variety of marine animals, including starfish, cleaner shrimp, bottlenose dolphins & a starry moray with a distinctive yellow mouth.

Healthy Coral Ree

Coral Reefs and Climate Change - 2:45 mins
Coral reefs are the most biologically diverse habitats of the oceans and face extinction due to climate change by 2050 ... We're hoping that the politicians and heads of state who attend the UNEP 2009 climate change conference in Copenhagen will make positive amendments to global environmental policy and help save coral reefs and ultimately protect the amazing planet we live on.

Jason Chin at an elementary school reading and explaining his artwork for his book Redwoods on School Tube - 4 mins

Reviews and Awards:
Kirkus Reviews - Editor's Choice Children's Books - 2011
Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K-12 - 2012
Library Media Connection (November/December 2011)
This informative book is a journey through a coral reef, a journey that begins with a library book and a little girl's imagination. Lots of interesting facts are given about the coral reef, the animals and fish that inhabit the coral reef, and the food chain. The text is accompanied by colorful illustrations. Older students will find research related information in both the text and pictures, including cross-sections of a star coral and coral polyp. Bobbye Truitt, Library Media Specialist, Black Rock (Arkansas) Elementary School. RECOMMENDED

Kirkus Reviews starred (September 1, 2011)
A book on coral reefs transforms the New York Public Library into a reef for its reader as she eagerly learns about those who make and dwell in those unique ecosystems, "cities of the sea." Chin, who pioneered this hybrid form of straightforward nonfiction text and fanciful pictures withRedwoods(2009), offers another a statement about the power of reading for an imaginative child with this appealing introduction to a complex world. He opens and closes his narrative with accurate and clearly labeled pencil sketches of a large variety of reef-dwellers. Inside, realistic watercolor images, some in panels, some in full-bleed pages and even double-page spreads, complement the text. Sharp-eyed readers will see and be able to identify the creatures (not always those in the narrative) and will enjoy the dreamlike elaboration--especially as the coral reef begins to turn back into a city complete with appropriate signage. The species shown are all found in Caribbean reefs; Chin visited one off Belize in the course of his research. The backmatter includes an afterword describing the threat to coral reefs and providing additional facts as well as selected sources. As in his earlierRedwoods,the child reader shares her reading, passing on the book to others. Real-life readers will be eager to do the same.(Informational picture book. 5-9)

Judy Desetti researched the activities, author info, and created the wiki page. July 2012