Oh to Live in the Ocean!

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SWBAT identify habitats found in the ocean by matching animals to their habitats.

Big Idea

Children learn that every animal has a specific habitat.


5 minutes

Since many of my students have never been to the ocean and the ocean is a stark contrast to the desert we live in, I begin this lesson by finding out what my kids know. I do this by calling one table at a time to come sit on the floor like scientists.

I draw a target on a piece of chart paper and label the center, "Oceans."

I ask the kids to silently think about what they know about oceans for 30 seconds; I set a timer. I then have them turn to their floor partners and share what they know. I give each person 30 seconds to speak, again setting a timer each turn.

I then pull name sticks from a name stick can to have students tell me what they know about what lives in the ocean. I record what they share. If they have only mentioned animals as we get close to the end of time for this section of the lesson, I prompt them to think about the possibility of plants being in the ocean by asking, "So I see that we have a lot of animals written on our chart. Are animals the ONLY thing that live in the ocean?"

A few of my kids catch on and volunteer ideas like seaweed, coral, and one student said, "sea plants." At the kinder level, that's good enough!

Once we have exhausted what we know, I review our poster with the kids to clarify what it is we already know and then tell them that we will be investigating this habitat today.


10 minutes

To engage the kids, I have the kids remain on the floor and show them the pictures of things found in the ocean by doing a "picture walk" through House for a Hermit Crab. I do NOT read the book the first time through. I simply show them the pictures because I want them to apply what we learned about fish and plants to the ocean life we are seeing in the photos.

When we are finished looking at the pictures, I ask the kids, "How do you think everything we saw in these ocean pictures help to make the best habitat for the animals we saw?" I call on random volunteers to share their thoughts.

This allows some of my high-achievers model connections and speaking for my lower-achievers. This is good for two reasons. One, the lower-achievers can access information they forgot they had, and two, my ELL students can hear how others construct arguments using past and present scientific information.

I then go back through the book with them again and read the text. It is important to explore all areas of the ocean so we take the time to examine the deep see fish that have special features like glow in the dark adaptations. We discuss why these animals would need this feature.


15 minutes

For the exploration, I provide each table with an envelope of animals pictures. The kids are expected to do two things:

  1. sort the animals in "ocean" and "not ocean" piles
  2. once they have sorted the animals, compare the ocean animals and discuss what is the same with all of the animals and what is different; discuss why the ocean is the best habitat for those animals


I call one team at a time to sit down at the tables. Once all the teams are seated, I deliver one envelope to each table. The table leaders are asked to place the cards in a pile face down.

I tell the kids that they will take turns picking up an animal card and showing it to the rest of the table. They are told that they can only take from the top of the pile. After they show the picture to everyone at their table, the team discusses which pile the animal should go in. If it is an ocean animal, they are to discuss what attributes the animal has that makes the ocean the ideal habitat for it, e.g. gills, fins, etc.  They are told not to discuss the animals that are placed in the "not ocean" pile as our focus is on the ocean habitat.

I roam the room and support students and teams in their discussions of the animals. I help them make observations and combine them with what we already know to communicate strong statements about the animals backed with evidence.

Whole group recap:

When the teams are finished, we gather on the floor. I call one table at a time to sit down and the table leaders bring me the envelope of animal pictures. We go through them quickly as a whole class.


10 minutes

The evaluation for this lesson is a ocean scene and a sheet of animals, some ocean and some not. The kids are asked to determine which animals live in the ocean and to cut them out and glue them in the proper location in the ocean, e.g. a lobster would be glued to the ocean floor. When all the animals are glued in the proper place, they are to glue the entire scene into their science journal.


I begin this section by calling the table leaders up to get science journals for everyone who sits at their table. I then dismiss kids to their tables by teams; my tables are color-coded.

I have the kids look up from their tables as I do a quick demonstration of how the job should be done. I walk the room and pass out a scene and an animal page to each student.

As the kids work, I roam the room to ask them questions like, "Why are you gluing that animal in the coral? Why would that animal need to live in the dark?"


When all of the kids are finished with their journals, we gather back on the floor. I again call them one table team at a time. I have the kids turn to their floor partner and compare where they placed all the animals in the ocean. They also check to see if they both used the same animals.

To close the lesson, I use my doc cam to place a copy of the scene up for viewing (just tape one up if you don't have access to a doc cam), and I pull random names from a name stick can to call on kids to tell me where to put each animal in the scene. I also go over the animals that we did NOT use, such as a scorpion because it needs to live in water.

I have the kids check their journals as we go over each animal and why it lives where it does.


5 minutes

For this extension, I have the kids use what they've learned along with their imagination.

I have them remain on the floor. I ask the kids, "If you had to live under the sea, what would you need to have and what would you have to be able to do?"

I have them silently think to themselves for 45 seconds; I set a timer. Once they have thought about the two part question, I have the kids turn to their floor partner and share their ideas. Each partner is given 30 timed seconds to speak.

After everyone has shared with their floor partner, I then call on random students to share what they talked about with their partner. I choose the students by pulling name sticks from a name can. I do this because it gives everyone a chance to be heard without taking up a lot of class time.

I record what they say as they share. Later during the day, writing time, the kids will write about what it would be like to live in the ocean in their ELA writing draftbooks.