Wire Sculptures of Brine Shrimp

At the beginning of the week we began a deep investigation on what the fish in our tank eat.  The children are familiar with the pellets of food, but recently we have begun to purchase frozen food.  We defrost little cubes of brine shrimp and dump them in our salt water tank for the fish to eat.  It is very hard for the children to see what the shrimp look like.  They are extremely small and very hard to see with the naked eye.  We spent Monday looking at some of the shrimp in the microscope.

It was wonderful to introduce the children to the world of the microscope.  It allowed them to have a bigger picture of what is going on in the salt water tank.  They were fascinated to actually see that these little white specks were actually animals that had eyes, a body, and many little legs.

We spent time looking at them in the microscope, in the tank, and in pictures.  The children drew pictures of them as they analyzed their bodies.

We wanted to reinforce their knowledge by providing them a different material rather than  drawing materials to use.  One of the materials that came to mind was wire.



The students were provided with wire and beads, as well as a picture of the brine shrimp to help them represent their ideas and knowledge.

Many of them initially struggled with this challenge.  So many times children are looking for the “right” way and often forget to consider their own thinking.  Wire not only allows children to create abstract interpretation of things, it gives them an opportunity to problem solve.  Some of the children were hesitant to use the material, but our studio teachers had joined the group and offered some guidance. It’s funny how with the right guidance and instruction, the students were able to develop their shrimp without overwhelming or dampening “the artist inside”.

Bishop was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to create a proper shrimp.  The art director, however, asked him to consider the shapes.  “This looks like an oval,” Bishop replied.

Some of the students took that advice and initially showed great confidence in creating the piece but then became frustrated when their piece did not look like the entire shrimp piece.  The students then had a meeting and discussed what part of the shrimp did each creation represent.  The students then realized that this piece made a great tail and this piece made a great body.  With that, the students began to create…  They relinquished all of that initial fear, and soon their was a school of shrimp. 

Allowing the children so many experiences to investigate the brine shrimp makes the learning experience rich.  They were also able to over come difficulties, and have such a positive outcome of creating beautiful sculptures of shrimp that they can all be proud of.  These shrimp are now hanging in our room for all to see, and soon they will make a permanent home by the salt water tank in our common area.


This activity focuses on the following learning goals:

*  The student knows that organisms resemble their parents and have structures and processes that help them survive within their environments. The student is expected to:

(A)  investigate how the external characteristics of an animal are related to where it lives, how it moves, and what it eats;

*  The student develops and organizes ideas from the environment. The student is expected to:

(A)  glean information from the environment, using the five senses; and

(B)  identify colors, textures, forms, and subjects in the environment.

*   The student expresses ideas through original artworks, using a variety of media with appropriate skill. The student is expected to:

(A)  create artworks, using a variety of colors, forms, and lines;

(B)  arrange forms intuitively to create artworks; and

(C)  develop manipulative skills when drawing, painting, printmaking, and constructing artworks, using a variety of materials.

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