A Harbour Seal in Halifax: Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club

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Thanks to Nimbus Publishing for sponsoring this post so that I can help you raise little readers who love local books. As always, all opinions are my own.

First timer and not sure what a virtual book club is? Check out this post first for tips on how to host a book club (virtual or in-person) to instil a love of reading in little kids.

A Harbour Seal in Halifax is our pick for the Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club this month. This book is based on a true story from March 2015 when a Halifax woman was surprised by a seal hanging out under her car in downtown Halifax - and who wouldn't be! Some police officers nearby heard her calling for help and they worked together to get the seal back to water safely. Only in Canada, eh? The events from that experience inspired this sweet children's book written and illustrated by Doretta Groenendyk.

My children loved the brightly coloured pictures and fun story in this book, and, of course, seeing their hometown represented is always fun for them. It did raise one question though, why did the seal want to go back into those icy waters? That question inspired our first activity for our Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club this month. We also have a tutorial to make a cute stuffed seal, a song idea and some snack suggestions for a fun morning for your itsy bitsy readers.

BLUBBER EXPERIMENT

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This classic science experiment really makes an impact on kids and all of the supplies are probably already in your kitchen!

You'll need:

  • shortening or lard
  • two medium ziploc bags
  • duct tape
  • large bowl for ice water

Start by using one of the bags as a glove and scooping some lard into the other bag. This keeps your hands clean. Once you have it about two thirds full (the more you have, the thicker the "blubber" will be) slide the "glove bag" into the lard bag.

Then fold back the top of the zippered part and use the duct tape to secure it. You want to create a clean pocket inside the lard bag.

Have your child slide their hand into the clean glove part you've created and then smush the lard between the bags evenly around their hand to create a layer of blubber. 

Now fill up a big bowl full of ice water. We added ice cubes, then a bowlful of snow for good measure. We wanted to replicate the icy waters of the harbour as in the book where there are chunks of ice and snow floating around.

Have your child place their bare hand into the bowl of freezing water and count how long they can keep it in before it's too cold - it probably won't be long! Then try the same with the "blubber glove" and count to see how long they can last now. Much longer! Then they can try putting both hands (one with and one without the glove) in together to get a direct comparison of a mammal without blubber and a mammal with it. 

Explain that this is how the seal is comfortable in the icy, wintry harbour waters because she has a thick layer of blubber to keep her warm!

SILLY SEAL SONG

I compare you to a kiss from a rose on the gray.
Ooh, The more I get of you,
The stranger it feels, yeah.

And now that your rose is in bloom.
A light hits the gloom on the gray...

Okay, okay, sorry, couldn't resist. Not *that* kind of silly Seal song. I've got one a bit more kid friendly for you that tells the story from the book using the Itsy Bitsy Spider tune:

The Itsy Bitsy Seal Pup

Went up the city street

Down came the police

To pick the seal right up

Out to the harbour

They carried little seal

And the itsy bitsy seal pup

Splashed in the sea again

HARBOUR SEAL FRIEND

We *lurve* cuddly stuffies around here and my kids  kept exclaiming how cute the seal in the book was. We decided to make a seal toy as a companion to read the book with. This easy craft is simple enough for your kids to make (with adult guidance) and they'll love their new reading buddy even more because they helped make her.

You'll need:

  • grey sock
  • googly eyes
  • bits of grey yarn or string for whiskers
  • grey felt for flippers
  • small black pompom for nose
  • elastic band
  • polyfil/cotton for stuffing
  • glue (craft or fabric glue is best)
  • sharp scissors

Start by turning the sock inside out and putting an elastic around the toe. This eliminates the seam from the finished product and makes a more realistically shaped face. 

Flip it back to right side out and stuff that pup with polyfil until she's as "blubbery" as desired.

Now firmly glue the end of the sock together and then, when dry, cut it in half on an angle. These are her back flippers (and this also keeps the stuffing in).

Next she'll need some whiskers and a nose glued on, and then you can glue her flippers to the sides of her body.

Add googly eyes and she's ready for hours of reading and cuddles!

SEAL SNACKS

Seals love fish so goldfish crackers make a great snack for this book club, along with other fishy snacks like tuna or fish sticks. If you have more creative food genes though, I've put together a Pinterest board full of some nifty snack ideas for your little readers to enjoy with A Harbour Seal in Halifax!

Hope you've enjoyed this month's Itsy Bitsy Nimbus Book Club. If you don't have a copy of the book yet, you can click on the Amazon affiliate link below, or buy one from Nimbus Publishing, Chapters, Woozles, Bookmark and many other local retailers. It also makes a fantastic gift for a little one visiting Halifax or a Haligonian who has moved away.

Have you ever seen a live seal in the wild? I keep looking, especially when I'm on the Halifax-Dartmouth ferry, but I haven't been lucky enough to spot one yet.