Rocky Shore Habitat and the Animals that Live There

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SWBAT describe the conditions of the rocky shore and make observations about some of the animals that live here.

Big Idea

Form and function - Students learn the conditions of the rocky shore in order to make informed observations about how animals have adapted to live in this habitat.

NGSS Connections and Lesson Preparation

10 minutes

NGSS Standards

2 -LS4 - Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity

Learners make observations of the rocky shore conditions and the animals that live here. In the next lesson students apply what they have learned about the deep ocean animals and the rocky shore animals to compare the animals in these 2 habitats.

Cross-cutting Concepts - Appendix G

- Structure and Function (XC6)

Learners consider how form helps animals survive in the rocky shore.

Science Practices

- Asking Questions and Defining Problems (SP1)

Students develop research questions to help them learn how rocky shore animals have adapted to their habitat.

Lesson Preparation

Make 3 panel flipbook, one per student.

List of rocky shore animals. Check that your have research material at students' reading level to correspond with list of animals you provide.

Plan a field trip to your local aquarium or tide pools. Consider a web cast with a marine biologist.


Power point on rocky shore

Other images, materials from local aquariums to enhance the lesson.

Video of a rocky shore, and time lapse to show the ebb and flow of the tides, embedded in the attached power point.


Question for the Day - What are the rocky shore conditions that animals deal with in this habitat?

5 minutes

In my class, I start our science time with a question, usually written on the board.  This allows students to time to consider today's topic before the lesson has officially begun. Also, students are developing their skills to 'unpack' a question. 

Students know that when they return from lunch, we meet on the rug to read our 'science question for the day'. I have established this routine with the kiddos to keep transition time short and effective and redirect student's attention back to content while allowing time for focused peer interaction.

Question for the Day: What rocky shore conditions do animals deal with in this habitat?

By setting the question up this way, I can find out what students know about the rocky shore, while establishing early in the lesson the idea of rocky shore conditions and animal adaptations.

To change it up I use the 'random sorter' on the Smartboard and direct students to sit with their 'random sort' partner. We read the question together and I connect the idea of 'rocky shore' to tide pools. We live close to the ocean and many of my students have had experiences at tide pools. I also use this opportunity to point out this habitat may also be called the intertidal zone.

I listen to student conversations and note students who can easily describe the rocky shore and those that cannot. During research time I will check in with those students to provide supplemental information on the rocky shore.

I call students to share what their their partner said about the rocky shore conditions and  list student responses on the board.

Often I ask students to share what their partner said, in order to encourage more careful listening. To encourage partners to be more accountable to listening and understanding each other, I directed students to rephrase what their partner said using the sentence starter: Is this what you said ... or I heard you say... (Listening Norms)

"I can see from your answers that you all know a lot about the rocky shore. Today you will make a flip book to learn more about rocky shore conditions and how animals have adapted to survive in the rocky shore. As you watch the power point of the rocky shore, you will add information to your flip book that I have placed on your desk."

I placed the flip books on the students' desks while they were at recess.

I call on students by a chosen attribute, (i.e. wearing green). "Let's see how quietly these students return to their desk and take out their pencil.

I use this transition opportunity to reinforce expectations on how we move from the rug to the desk.


Rocky Shore Flip Book

10 minutes

Before I show the Rocky Shore Power Point I give an overview on how the learners will use the flip book. I use the document camera to provide a visual for the directions.

"Your flip book will be used to organize your power point notes and ideas about the rocky shore. You will write information about the rocky shore and its animals as we watch our power point. Before I start the power point, I want to explain how you will organize your rocky shore observations, notes and thinking on the flip book."

"Touch the left panels of the flip book, on these panels, you will list a  rocky shore condition. One condition for each panel."

I am starting to use the concept of taking notes, to immerse students with the idea that note taking happens when we are viewing or reading information.

"Touch the panels on the right. On these panels you will write a question about the rocky shore feature and animal. We will create the questions together."

The questions follow a similar pattern, 'How does (animal name) deal with (rocky shore feature)?'. I  scaffold questions for my class today to help them transfer these questions to their rocky shore animal research.

"Now that we know what you will be writing on the outside of your flip book, let's find out what you will do on the inside. Open the flap and touch the inside left flap. Here you will write adjectives or details to describe the rocky shore condition that you wrote on the front.

I want students to write descriptive words to help them contextualize the rocky shore feature.

"On the inside right flap you will write your hypothesis on how animals deal with this condition."

I chose to have students write their hypothesis to the questions, to encourage them to think about the topic, to engage the learner.  Asking students to make hypothesizes encourages them to tap into previous experiences and prior learning (our field trip to the local aquarium, our experiences with the classroom tanks). Also making predictions is a skill for reading and viewing comprehension too.

"In the center, you will write your power point notes that answer the question. You will write animal observations and your conclusion or claim based on your observations, that is the evidence for your claim. 

"If you are still not sure how this works, that is o.k., we will be doing this together."

I take the time to give students this overview to build the schema on how the information will be organized and how students will participate.

Rocky Shore Power Point

30 minutes

Depending on the class's prior knowledge, I may show them a short video on the intertidal zone. I set the stage by saying we are going to take observations about what we see and hear at the rocky shore, just like marine biologists.

I choose a video that does not have any narration. Students write their observations on the back of the flip book, or they could draw a picture.

If you need to break the lesson into shorter segments, this would be a good stopping point before starting the powerpoint.

The power point is set up to highlight one rocky shore condition at a time, along with 1-2 example(s) of animal adaptations for dealing with the selected rocky shore feature.

Rocky Shore Feature: Waves

After I introduce and explain the rocky shore feature, I provide time for students to write the rocky shore feature title on the front left outside panel and details about the rocky shore feature on the inside left panel.

Then together we create a question for the right panel.

Next I direct students to discuss with their table group a possible hypothesis to our question. Students write their hypothesis on the inside right panel.

After students have written their hypothesis. Students see slides of animals that live in the rocky shore and write observations on the inside of the flipbook.

Then students make a claim about what the animal has that helps it deal with the waves, based on their observations. For example I may say to the students, "The sea anemone has a foot that it uses to cling to the rock, how does this help it deal with waves?"

I call on volunteers and together we write our claim on the inside of the flip book.

I chose to highlight some of the animals from the classroom tanks since these are the most familiar to my students.

I continue with the same steps above for tides and prey / predator.

Intro to Student Research

10 minutes

The last slide shows a list of other intertidal animals with accompanying images . Students choose an animal from this list to research, to learn how their selected animal deals with the rocky shore features that they learned about today.

"Here is a list of other animals that live in the intertidal zone. Later this week, you will research how these animals survive in the intertidal zone. Today you will choose the animal you want to research.

We read over the list together. Students will have a research partner. I pull popsicle sticks, and write the student's number by the image. If there are 2 numbers by the animal, that animal is no longer a choice.

After everyone has selected their animal and said hello to their research partner, I direct students to place their flipbook in their science folder as they will reference this when they do their rocky shore research.