Notable book, The Children’s Book Council of Australia
Do you love the sea? Have you ever wondered what sea creatures like to eat? Inside this book you will see food like you have never seen before. Follow the food chain from the tiniest ciliate (see-li-at) to the very end. Can you guess who is last in line? There are many possible food chains in the sea, this is one of them.
Reader's Notes for See Food!
This information text uses a straightforward chain story plot in order to introduce young readers to the
concept of a food chain. Food chains are multiple and complex, but for the sake of simplicity one possible
chain is traced right from the tiniest organism through to a human consumer. The concept of
photosynthesis is briefly explained, and then the focus quickly moves to consumption. Each creature eats –
and in turn is eaten by – another one further along the chain. A glossary and explanation of all the creatures
described in the book is available on the publisher’s website.
See Food is written in a direct, informative style. Facts are introduced, then elaborated upon briefly and
clearly, with phonetic pronounciation notes for scientific names as required. The author also makes subtle
use of literary devices such as active and evocative verbs and repetition-with-addition to bring the subject
matter to life.
The author has two main passions in life – animals and food. She and her zoologist husband, Gerald
Kuchling live, breathe and work animals! In order to fuel all this work, Guundie lovingly cooks delicious
(slow!) food. She regularly wows dinner guests with sumptuous meals, and her cakes are eagerly
anticipated. In writing this story she has combined both these interests into a single book that explores
how all animals, including people, derive energy through food chains.
The author reminds readers that this is only one possible chain – and that many, many other combinations
Study Notes/Activities for Teachers
See Food is pertinent to all the primary curriculum learning areas. The story lends itself to encouraging
students to show their understanding of the link between systems and living things in the environment. The
story and learning experiences which can be devised are especially relevant to Value 5, Environmental
Reading the story
Before reading activities
Explore the relationship with students between the title and the text. Tell students the story title (or ask them
to read the title) and invite them to guess what the book might be about. Ask them if they know of other
titles which use homophones (e.g. “new/knew”) and word plays used in the title (e.g. “Antz/Ants”).
Introduce the idea of food chains and the role they play. Ask students to suggest the elements in the food
chains of dinosaurs.
Ask students if they know the song “The little old lady who swallowed a fly” as this is an example of a food
chain. The words for can be found at: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/rhymes/ladyfly/Ladybird.shtml
During reading activities
As they listen to the story ask students to mime the actions (bobbing up, sliding along, etc.). Ask the
students to be the chorus for the sounds written as flashcards or read out as “sound bites”: Lap! Snap!;
Chop! Chop!; Ooh! Chew!; Slosh! Gosh!; Crunch! Munch!; Flip! Sip!; Whack! Thwack! Snack!; Slam!
Cram! Poke! Choke!
After the reading
After reading the story the following activities which are grouped in the key learning areas are suggested:
For the science learning area the story can be used as a basis to explore the concepts of
photosynthesis, producers, consumers, food chains, communities, webs, marine life and
energy. Information on each individual species can also be researched either through printed materials or
on the Web.
Ask students to list and classify the various sea creatures mentioned in the story.
Students can then choose one of the sea creatures in the story (or visit a local aquarium) and write a
description of the creature (colour, shape, movement, habitat, characteristics). Ask students to locate their
chosen creature within the food chain (which animals are its prey/predators).
The significance of colour and its function for living things
Ask which of the five senses are favoured in the story. Talk about the colours of the different creatures in
the story and their descriptors (e.g. this violet snail). Discuss whether the colours of the sea creatures
depicted in the story reflect their true colours.
Ask students to share their ideas and discuss reasons for the variety of colours present in
ocean/reef-dwelling animals. (e.g. for the identification of the creature’s own species, to scare/deter
predators; for camouflage, to entice potential prey, etc.).
The following weblink contains some information about the use of colour and depicts animals using
Writing: Conveying meanings through active and descriptive words
Ask students to list the eating verbs in the story (e.g. gobbles up, munches). Discuss words which are
unfamiliar and ask students to mime the animal’s eating action.
Talk about the meanings of the movement verbs used by the author (comes bobbing, hovers along, jumps
up, is rushing by, sneaks up, slides by, comes tromping). Mime the different actions and ask students to
Ask the students to rank the descriptive words the author uses according to different states/degrees of
hunger (e.g. is ravenous, is peckish, is famished, is starving, is voracious, is greedy, has cravings).
Ask students to write down the eaten/consumption words in the story (e.g. is finished, is no more, gone, is
taken, is eaten, consumes, is caught, that’s the end of, catches). Ask the students to write a few sentences
from the point of view of one of the story animals to describe how they felt before, during and after they
were eaten. (I was floating minding my own business when all of a sudden …)
Ask students to write down the eating words in the story (e.g. swallows, feeds on, gobbles up, chews,
scoffs, munches, is hungry, nibbles up, consumes, chews, snaps up, snacks on, is guzzled up, tucks into,
eats up). Talk about the differences in meaning.
Show images of different animals eating and ask students to write different captions for them using a
variety of eating words.
Creating a story
Ask students either individually or as a group project to write an alternative food chain story and create a
new set of illustrations for the story.
Alternatively they could create a story and invent a fictional food chain (e.g. on a planet). In writing the story
they would need to describe the environment that supports the food chain (e.g. on the chosen planet).
Encourage students to invent some verbs or eating sounds to describe the actions of their
Ask students to write a new blurb for the outside cover of their story.
Take a class vote and email the ‘most popular’ story to the author: email@example.com
Ask students to write an alternative title for their story. Place students in groups and ask them to exchange
and explain their titles. Take a vote on ‘the best’ title and ask students to give reasons for their choice.
Society & Environment
Viewing project: Come sea food sighting to discover one the ocean’s food chains
Ask students to obtain some travel brochures by visiting travel agencies or using websites.
Students can then create a brochure and add pictures of scenery and flora and fauna to entice tourists
(e.g. for Ningaloo Reef). Include a few sentences in the brochure to explain the food chain in that region.
Great Barrier Reef:
Speaking and listening
Hold a group discussion and report back: How important is the ocean? What happens when one element
in the food chain is eliminated? (e.g. after a cyclone, through an oil spill, pollution, or over-fishing).
Hold a group discussion about the importance of maintaining the food chain. Discuss how students can
keep the ocean clean. Ask groups to write a list of do’s and don’ts.
Languages Other than English (LOTE)
Ask students to think about the animal sounds in the story. Invite bilingual children to make different animal
sounds (e.g. in French a chicken sound is cockerickoo; in German it is kickerickee; in Japanese it is
See the following weblink for ideas:
A directory of sound clips and sound effects web sites:
Ask students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to talk about different food chains in
their cultures. Invite a bush food expert to talk about bush tucker.
Ask students to count the number of sea creatures/animals in the story.
Students can interview other students in the class to find out how many of the animals in the story they have
seen when they have been snorkelling, or visiting an aquarium, or going on an underwater boat trip.
Ask students to draw their favourite food and then illustrate it by working back along the food chain (e.g.
icecream: milk, cow, grass, seed).
Ask different students to make cut outs (with the centre removed as in the story) to size for each element in
the food chain. Then ask each student in the class to place the animals one upon the other as they move
down the food chain. The cut outs can then be made into mobiles and hung up in the class.
Ask students to list the items needed to create an underwater seascape in the classroom. Then they can
make one using as much recycled material as possible.
Younger children can be placed in two lines facing each other and each individual can be asked to play
the role of one the sea creatures. As the story is being read and they move along the food chain each child
can mime simple actions in the story as their animal appears and is eaten.
On a second reading, students can be asked to mime the actions to correspond with the words which
show different degrees of hunger (e.g. gobbles up, is ravenous), or the different movements (comes
bobbing, hovers along, jumps up, is rushing by, sneaks up, slides by).
All the students can form a chorus and repeat the eating sounds.
Plan a menu at home with family members that uses as many elements in the food chain as possible.
Make some sushi with seaweed, fish, rice, avocado etc.
Marketing and Promotion
This interesting and beautifully illustrated information text will find a ready education market at the primary
level. In addition, it will be an apt gift for children interested in ocean life and science. As well as in general
bookstores, this book will be available in The Australian Geographic shops, museum shops, aquariums,
Glossary for See Food!
The animals shown in this book occur in most oceans of the world. Sea creatures can display striking colours and even the less colourful species can appear vibrant through light and water. Each prey species presented here is one of many possible sources of food for the respective predator.
Algae: algae (singular alga) range from single-celled, microscopic organisms in the phytoplankton (see plankton) to giant multicellular forms (seaweed like kelp which grows up to 65 m in length). Algae include plants but also organisms which are both plant and animal. They use light to get the energy to live and grow and do not have to eat other organisms (this complex process is called photosynthesis and produces oxygen).
Arrow worm: a slender marine worm, also called ‘glass worm’, with an almost transparent, symmetrical body, ranging from 10 to 80 mm in length. Together with copepods they are the commonest animals in the marine plankton. They hang motionless in the water, but when they sense movement they dart forward like a torpedo – propelled by their tail – to catch their prey with hooks. Arrow worms are all carnivorous (animal eaters), voracious feeders with mouths that can be enlarged to take prey almost as big as the worm itself.
Bristle worm: a marine worm, either free living or inhabiting a tube. This worm shows many segments and bristles on each side of the body, from 2.5 cm to 50 cm in length or longer, and moves in a snake-like way. Found in most oceans, this species occurs from the shoreline to great depths. The free-living varieties can also be seen near the surface during reproduction.
Ciliate (see-li-at): a single-celled plankton animal up to 2 mm in size, found in fresh and sea water. The body shows rows of cilia (hair-like extensions) which are denser around the mouth – which helps the animal catch food.
Cone shell: a marine snail which paralyses prey with a long, venomous dart. Among the cone shells are fish eaters, worm eaters and mollusc eaters. This species is one of the most poisonous molluscs – so be careful when picking up shells from the beach where cone shells occur. Never touch any living cone shell!
Crab: an omnivorous (both plant and animal eating) crustacean with freshwater, marine and terrestrial species. Different crab species can have a leg span from a few mm up to 4 m. 10 legs (4 pairs of walking legs, one pair of pincers for grabbing prey).
Clione (klee-o-nay): a mollusc without shell that lives in the plankton. It is also called a sea butterfly because its body is drawn out into wing-like extensions. Many species are important as food for whalebone whales and basking sharks.
Copepod (cop-ay-pod): a crustacean which propels forward with oar-like limbs. They range from less than 0.5 mm to 15 mm in size. Copepods are the most abundant animals in the marine plankton, and one of the most important food sources for larger animals like herrings, sardines, basking sharks and whalebone whales.
Fish larva: baby fish can be part of the plankton, too. The larvae of many fish species drift in the tides and currents until they are strong enough to swim.
Groper: large family of fish, mainly found in reef habitats with a size between 40-80 cm and a weight from 0.8 kg to 9 kg.
Heliozoan (hay-lee-o-soan): a single-celled organism in fresh water as well as sea water, 40 – 200 micrometer (1 micrometer is 1/1000 of a mm). Heliozoans have armlike extensions (axopods) radiating
outward from the cell. They are used for 1) floating in open water 2) crawling over firm structures 3)
catching prey. These extensions give the heliozoans their sun-like appearance. They fuse together to
catch, eat and digest big prey, and then separate again.
Medusa: one of the two body forms in the life cycle of many species of sea jelly (see sea jelly), or a body
form of the related Hydrozoans. A medusa is a tiny sea jelly, from a few millimeters to several centimeters
or even bigger. Little medusae are part of the plankton, bigger ones swim actively by contractions of their
Moray eel: this fish spends most of its life in holes and crevices, its size varies from half a meter up to 4
m in length.
Noctiluca (nok-tee-luke-a): a single-celled animal in the plankton, up to 2 mm in diameter, with a tentacle
for catching prey. The cell is filled with a gelatinous substance which helps the animal to float and drift like
a balloon. Many noctiluca species have the ability to glow – the resulting light can be seen at night and is
commonly known as ‘sea sparkle’.
Octopus: a marine mollusc (there is no trace of a shell in its body) with eight arms equipped with rows of
suckers to catch prey. It ejects ink when threatened, crawls or swims and can camouflage itself by
changing colour. The most intelligent invertebrate: the octopus can even be trained to perform tasks.
Some species can change body shape to mimic parts of their environment (e.g. rocks) or dangerous
animals (e.g. sea snakes, lionfish). Octopuses can reach an arm-span of up to 8 meters and a weight of
up to 100 kg. The tiny blue ringed octopus is the most poisonous and deadliest mollusc in the world. Don’t
Plankton: animals and plants which float and drift in sea water or fresh water. Phytoplankton are plants,
confined to the water close to the surface which can be reached by sunlight. Zooplankton are animals,
found in different depths of the sea. Zooplankton can be herbivorous (plant eating) or carnivorous (animal
Plankton undergoes daily cycles – moving from the surface to great depth in the sea. There is
microplankton (e.g. ciliates) which can only be seen with a microscope and macroplankton (e.g. fish
larvae) which can be seen with the naked eye. Plankton is the basis of all food chains in water (fresh water
and sea water).
Radiolarian (radio-lair-ee-an): a single-celled animal up to 2 mm in diameter with a wide variety of
shapes and patterns. Most radiolarians are part of the marine plankton and can be found in all depths of
the water. Like heliozoans, they have extensions (axopods) of their cell body, but they also have a
Rotifer (row-tee-fer): multicelled, often planktonic animals, less common in the sea, very common in fresh
water, from the tiniest puddles to the largest lakes. They have a wheel of cilia around the mouth – hair-like
structures for moving and bringing in food. Free floating rotifers use their foot as a rudder.
Sea jelly: sea jellies (commonly called jellyfish, although this animal is not a fish) live on the surface and
the deepest region of the sea. Most of them are passive drifters. They have a bell-shaped body with the
mouth on the underside, surrounded by tentacles with stinging cells for defence and immobilising prey.
Most jellies have a complex life cycle: they pass through two different body forms – the polyp (a
cup-shaped stalk with tentacles) and the medusa (see medusa). Some species are highly toxic and
dangerous to humans (e.g. box jellies).
Sea star: most species have five arms (up to 1 m across), covered with a spiny surface, radiating out
from a central disc. Their underside is equipped with numerous little tube feet which act as suckers. Their
stomach can be turned inside out to digest large prey outside the body.
Shrimp: a crustacean in salt or fresh water, with long legs and antennae, the front of the body covered by
a tough plate, the carapace, with a spine-like projection. Shrimps can rapidly swim backwards. They can
live in schools and are an important food source for larger animals (from fish to whales).
Squid: a marine mollusc and a voracious predator. The shell (the “pen”) is inside the body and looks like
a clear piece of plastic. Squids can change colour for camouflage and expel ink when threatened. Usually
from a few centimeters up to 60 cm in length, but giant squids can reach up to 18 meters (tentacles
outstretched). In contrast to the related octopus, the squid has two long tentacles for catching prey (in
addition to its 8 arms).
Violet snail: up to 3 cm in size with a thin shell, this species makes its own raft from mucus and air
bubbles. Clinging to its raft, the snail floats upside down on the surface of the sea and preys mainly on sea
Wrasse: Wrasses are one of the largest, most diverse fish families in the sea, and are found worldwide
except in Arctic and Antarctic seas. Most of them are brightly coloured and have strong teeth.