Sharks are SO fascinating and one of the coolest ocean animals! They are always at the very top of the list for kids of all ages, and is one of our favorite subjects to teach about.
To help kids dive into exploring and learning about sharks, we’ve created a totally jawsome game for kids to “rescue” sharks by tossing a throw toy at a target.
Set it up outside in the backyard for a fun summer activity (Shark Week!) or birthday party game. They learn about all different kinds of sharks in the process, practice matching, work on hand-eye coordination, and have a blast!
- identifying & matching sharks (using illustrations and/or optional plastic toys)
- reading (if able) a cool shark fact and sharing out loud
- motor control and hand-eye coordination with target practice using a toss toy
- taking turns and following game rules
- learning shark diversity, why they are important & in danger, and how to help
It uses our printable downloads, a toss toy, household objects and an optional shark toy set. If you don’t have a plastic shark tube set, no worries — we’ve got you covered with a printable shark ID card set.
We’ve got all the how-to, printable downloads, and fun supporting resources (a shark conservation infographic AND shark video) to help make this a complete learning experience that’s so FUN!
While we’ve aimed this activity or lesson for elementary students, we could definitely see using this for older kids too since the topics are relevant & important ones. Pre-K could also participate with a little help.
It also correlates with NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) 2-LS4-1 (diversity of life) and K-ESS3, 4-ESS3 (human impact).
By the way, we hand-draw and hand-paint all of our illustrations, and many of the sharks featured in this activity come from our book A.B. and the 7 Seas.
We even created several more sharks just for this activity!
Pin this on Pinterest to help spread shark love:
Before we get to the game setup, here are some FIN-tastic teaching resources to help kids learn about sharks:
Jawsome Sharks Video (Diversity, Threats, and Conservation):
(We hope you’ll “like” it on YouTube 💙)
Jawsome Sharks Infographic:
In case the graphic above doesn’t appear, here’s what it says:
Many sharks are threatened and in danger:
- caught for shark fin soup
- caught by accident by fishing nets
- they eat plastic that looks like food
Help keep sharks around by:
- not eating shark fin soup or other shark dishes
- eating only seafood that’s sustainable & MSC certified
- keeping plastic out of the ocean by recycling it
Sharks help keep the ocean healthy and balanced:
- Without them, the food web get out of whack, damaging food supply and habitats!
What you’ll need:
- Shark Spot Markers pdf file (choose below)
- throw toy (bean bag, paper airplane, or rolled up sock ball)
- plastic shark set (Wild Republic OR Safari) OR Shark Cards pdf file (below)
- 10-12 household items that the throw toy can hit (see setup illustration below for ideas)
- jar or container to put the plastic sharks or shark cards into
- long piece of rope or ribbon
- “Jawsome Sharks” video & infographic (in post above)
Instructions (if you prefer to have them in a document instead of reading below) NOTE: The 2nd page has a large image that shows suggested setup.
If you don’t have a plastic shark set, just choose a matching set of spot markers & shark cards.
If you’re using the WILD REPUBLIC shark tube (12 sharks) – small cards:
If you’re using the SAFARI shark toob (10 sharks):
- Print the Shark Spot Markers pdf file that goes with the shark set you have (if using) and cut out the spot markers. If you don’t have a plastic shark set, print and cut out the Shark Cards pdf file.
- Attach the spot markers with tape to various target items that a bean bag or paper airplane can hit. We suggest using beach-themed items you have, such as a bucket, beach towel, hula hoop, flip flops, etc. (see setup illustration below for more ideas).
- Disperse the items in the play area, at a distance challenging enough for the kids.
- Place a piece of rope, ribbon, etc. on the floor as the line that kids must stay behind to throw.
- Place either the plastic sharks or the small shark cards into a jar or container that kids can reach their hand into to randomly pick one out when it’s their turn.
- Review our “Jawsome Sharks” video & infographic above and use it to help teach kids why sharks are important, in danger, and how to help.
How to play:
- Decide the order of who goes first (youngest, oldest, tallest, roll a die). Also decide if you wish to award another turn after a successful turn.
- When it’s your turn, without looking, randomly pick a shark out of the jar (toy or small card).
- Look for the matching shark target in the play area. TIP: The name of the plastic shark is on its underside.
- Stand behind the line (rope or ribbon) and throw the bean bag at your shark target. If you hit it, you: 1)read the cool fact on the spot marker for others to hear, and 2)rescue that shark from the jar and set the plastic shark or card aside in your pile. If you missed the target, the shark goes back into the jar and your turn is over.
- Continue to play until all the sharks have been collected. If you choose to indicate a winner, the one with the most sharks collected wins.
There are many different ways to mix things up and keep the fun going! Some ideas are:
- Use the small shark cards by themselves to play a matching game with the plastic sharks
- Print two copies of the small shark cards to play a memory game
- Make it more challenging by awarding points for hitting targets of different difficulty levels
- If you have enough players, make teams to encourage good sportsmanship and teamwork
- In the classroom, use the spot markers on the floor or wall to help students line up or sit for circle time
We hope you have a FIN-tastic time learning about sharks while playing this fun game! We always LOVE to see photos, so if you’re on Instagram or Facebook, tag us @livingporpoisefully.
Know someone who might have a splashing time with this? Send them the link or share it on social! 💙
Eve & Rett (Everett) Taylor
Disclaimer: All activities on this blog are intended to be performed with adult supervision. Appropriate and reasonable caution should be used when activities call for the use of materials that could potentially be harmful, such as scissors, or items that could present a choking risk (small items), or a drowning risk (water activities), and with introducing a new food/ingredient to a child (allergies). Observe caution and safety at all times. The author and blog disclaim liability for any damage, mishap, or injury that may occur from engaging in any of these activities on this blog.