Introduction: Students can use their imaginations to good advantage in this activity, but they must get the facts right! For example, they can change one characteristic of an organism, such as increasing the size of a salp to 10 meters, but they need to include information about the normal size in the definition section.
You may wish to have students choose from only certain terms, such as sea floor features, or you can provide the entire list for students to choose from. Marine biology provides a rich source of creatures which can easily be modified for the purposes of a horror story.
Reference materials: text books, glossaries of ocean terms, dictionaries
Examples of ocean horror stories (Jaws, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Abyss, Peter Benchley’s The Beast, the B-grade movie Leviathan, tabloid news stories of sea monsters)
1. Using maps, images, and definitions, introduce the features of the sea floor. Be sure students understand the scale and typical location of the features. If studying marine biology, use this activity after students are familiar with the marine environment and many types of marine organisms.
2. Distribute and read through the list of terms. Explain to students they will be writing a horror story, appropriately using at least 8 of the terms. They will also be required to include a list of correct definitions of the terms they use. If a feature is altered in the story, the correct information must be included in the definition section. They can use theme of a research expedition that gets into trouble or design their own plot.
3. Read an excerpt from an ocean-based horror story to set the mood, then have students brainstorm and outline ideas individually. After they have used the information resources to record the meaning of their terms, they should begin writing.
4. Encourage students to illustrate their stories when finished, either with a book jacket cover design or a text illustration.
5. Students may want to share their stories with the class, or have their stories read aloud anonymously.