- Have children research the stages of the jellyfish’s life cycle. Then, make an anchor chart of the stages that can be referred to throughout the unit.
- Provide key vocabulary about jellyfish that children can research. Ideas include: bioluminescent, invertebrate, tentacles, and plankton.
- Provide children with opportunities to watch videos about jellyfish. This will give them a better idea of what they look like and how they move. Try National Geographic for age-appropriate videos.
- Have children create their own jellyfish by folding a paper plate in half to use for the body. They can colour or paint the plate and add large eyes. Next, they can hang streamers, ribbons, or yarn from the plate to represent the tentacles.
Jellyfish begin as eggs. In some species, the eggs are attached to a pouch on the female jellyfish’s arms. In other species, the eggs begin inside the mother’s mouth.
In the second stage, the eggs hatch and “planula larvae,” leave the mother’s pouch or mouth. The planula larvae spend a few days floating on the surface of the water. They are often eaten by predators. If they are not eaten, they drop down to the sea floor, where they begin the next stage of their life cycle.
During this next stage, the planula larvae attach themselves to a hard surface like a rock, shell, or log, and develop into polyps. Polyps have a mouth surrounded by tentacles. They use their mouth to eat food. As they grow, more polyps form and link together. This process is called “budding” and can continue for several years.
The next stage in the jellyfish’s life cycle is strobilation. During this stage, the stalks of the polyp develop grooves that become deeper and deeper. The polyp begins to look like a stack of plates.
Eventually, the top groove breaks off as a baby jellyfish. It is called an “ephyra.” The ephyra swims around and continues to grow until it is an adult jellyfish.