Terrors of the Deep

Length of Program

60 minutes

Program Description

“Chief among these motives was the overwhelming idea of the great whale himself. Such a portentous and mysterious monster roused all my curiosity. Then the wild and distant seas where he rolled his island bulk; the undeliverable, nameless perils of the whale; these, with all the attending marvels of a thousand Patagonian sights and sounds, helped to sway me to my wish. With other men, perhaps, such things would not have been inducements; but as for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts. Not ignoring what is good, I am quick to perceive a horror…”

- From Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

Many teens are drawn to horror books and movies. In this program, teens will learn about some of the real-life monsters that live in the ocean, sea creatures such as whales and sharks. They will create fossils of frightening sea creatures and view books and films that describe the animals that live in the ocean. In addition, or as an alternative, teens may create imaginary sea creatures as an art project or participate in an aquatic scavenger hunt.


Make or purchase modeling clay. You can buy modeling clay at a local craft store or you can get it online from Michael’s at www.michaels.com. If you prefer to make your own modeling clay, use the recipes found at About.com, http://multiples.about.com/cs/familyfun/ht/Playdough.htm or at Homemade Playdough Recipes, http://applesaucekids.com/LinkPage/PlayDoug.html. For the art project, gather materials for several mediums, such as paints, chalks, colored pens, and pencils, along with paper, poster board, or other surfaces.  Gather books with pictures of skeletons of sea creatures for the fossil craft.

Prepare a scavenger hunt using the websites listed below.

Gather books about sea creatures and bookmark websites for teens to view.

Invite a marine biologist or biology teacher from a local high school or college to tell the teens about large sea creatures, such as whales and sharks.

Books to Display

  • Creeps from the Deep by L.R. Taylor.
  • Life in the Ocean Depths by Christy Marx.
  • Sharks and Other Scary Sea Creatures by Miranda Macquitty.

Books to Booktalk

  • Beast by Ally Kennen.
  • Creatures of the Deep: In Search of the Sea’s Monsters and the World They Live In by Erich Hoyt.
  • Shark Life: True Stories About Sharks and the Sea by Peter Benchley.
  • S.O.S. Titanic by Eve Bunting.
  • The Truth About Dangerous Sea Creatures by Mary M. Cerullo.


Make blue Jello™ and place gummy animals like Swedish fish or fruit in the mixture to make it look like it is under the sea. You can also serve blue or green punch. Have goldfish crackers available.


Give out mini-notebooks with a fish design like the ones found at the Oriental Trading Company, www.orientaltrading.com.


Fossils from Beneath the Waves


  • Quick-dry modeling clay or homemade playdough
  • Toothpicks
  • Wax paper cut into 6-inch squares


Provide the teens with images of skeletons such as those at Big Sur Chamber of Commerce, www.bigsurcalifornia.org/whalesgray-LATimes6.24.02.html or Fish and Shark Skeletons, http://a-s.clayton.edu/biology/biol3650l/skeletal/fish_and_shark_skeletons.htm. Give each teen some modeling clay or playdough to create a skeleton of sea creatures such as a shark, fish, whale, or anything else that strikes their imagination. Allow them to choose how much clay they would like to use, as some designs will require a larger amount than others. Have them put the clay on the wax paper and flatten it to about ¼ of an inch thick. The toothpicks can be laid out in the clay to make a skeleton or they can be used to carve a skeleton design.

Create Your Own Sea Creature


  • Paint
  • Chalk
  • Colored pens and pencils
  • Clay
  • Construction paper
  • Assorted other craft supplies


Provide the materials listed above and allow teens to use their imagination to create unique sea creatures. Display their artwork in the library.

Games and Activities

Island Paradise

Tell the teens about Cocos Island, 300 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, which is legendary for its natural and man-made treasures. Michael Crichton wrote "Jurassic Park" with it in mind and Robert Louis Stevenson might have based "Treasure Island" on it. It is also the inspiration for the island on which King Kong was found. For the legends and lore of the Cocos Island, visit Nova’s The Island of the Sharks web site at www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sharks/island/legends.html. Let the teens explore the Cocos Island on the PBS web site at www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sharks/island/explore.html. Show a clip from Jurassic Park or King Kong if you have public performance rights.

Scavenger Hunt

Create a whale scavenger hunt using the book Internet Scavenger Hunts for the Topics You Teach by Karen Leiviska. You can also use websites with scavenger hunts that have already been developed.  Try Scavenger Hunts for Kids, www.vickiblackwell.com/hunts.html or Ocean Scavenger Hunt at www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/fil/pages/huntoceansmr1.html. Give incentives to those who complete the scavenger hunt the fastest. Teens can either work as individuals or as a group.

Guest Speakers

Invite someone from a local aquarium to come and speak about various creatures that live underwater, especially the scary ones. You might also invite a marine biologist from a local college or a high school biology teacher.


If you have public performance rights, show these videos and DVDs, or segments of them, to the teens. Otherwise, display them for home use.

  • Jurassic Park. (127 minutes)
  • King Kong. (188 minutes)
  • Shark Attack! (56 minutes)
  • White Shark/Red Triangle. (120 minutes)

Web Sites

Ichthyology at the Florida Museum of Natural History


This site includes a biological profile of a white shark, information about how to avoid shark attacks, and other games.

Jean-Michael Cousteau Ocean Adventures


Learn about sharks from the master oceanographer. The site also includes shark wallpaper and interactive games.

Nova Online: Island of the Sharks


Join two underwater filmmakers in the shark-infested paradise off Costa Rica’s Coca Island as they shoot the IMAX film, "Island of the Sharks.”

White Shark/Red Triangle


Learn about the great white sharks on this web site companion to the PBS Nature episode, White Shark/Red Triangle.

Professional Resources

Internet Scavenger Hunts for the Topics You Teach by Karen Leiviska.

Apple Sauce Kids


This site has many different recipes for making playdough.

Big Sur Chamber of Commerce


This page from the chamber of commerce web site has a guide for whale watching.

Fish and Shark Skeletons


This page has photographs of shark and fish skeletons.

How to Make Homemade Playdough


This site has many different recipes to make playdough.



An online site to buy craft materials.

Oriental Trading Company


Scavenger Hunts for Kids


A web site that gives scavenger hunt ideas for students.


Texas Reading Club 2007 Programming Manual / Sail Away with Books!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011