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Life on the Ocean Floor

Which creatures live on the ocean floor? In which zone? Depict life in either the sunlight, twilight, or midnight zone—and keep your science project Earth-friendly by recycling a box.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Directions

    1. Salt water covers three quarters of the Earth’s surface. Although the ocean surface looks pretty much the same anywhere on the planet, what’s below the surface is as varied as life on land. Invite students working in small groups to investigate various ocean habitats on the planet. Organize a variety of text and electronic resources for students to view during the research.
    2. Once research is complete, groups organize their information in preparation for presenting it to classmates. To accompany presentations, students will create a visual representing their learning.
    3. Here’s one way to transform a recycled box into an ocean-floor habitat. Use Crayola Crayons and Washable Markers to decorate construction paper to cover the inside of the box.
    4. With Crayola Metallic Colored Pencils, Crayons, and Markers, draw the creatures for the ocean box on construction paper. Cut out thread long enough to hold each one. Tape thread to the backs.
    5. Students poke holes through the box so it can suspend creatures from the top. Thread the stringed figures through holes and tape thread in place. Cover the outside of the box with decorated construction paper.
    6. Groups label the parts of the diorama and integrate it into their presentation on the life shown in the saltwater environment.
    7. Provide time in the school day for group to present their new learning about salt water environments to classmates.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    LA: Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.

    MATH: Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit. Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions by using the information presented in the line plots.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Ocean: The World's Last Wilderness Revealed by Fabien Cousteau; Citizens of the Sea: Wondrous Creatures From the Census of Marine Life by Nancy Knowlton; Smithsonian Ocean: Our Water, Our World by Deborah Cramer; Simon & Schuster Children's Guide to Sea Creatures by Jinny Johnson; Awesome Ocean Science by Cindy A. Littlefield; Eye Wonder: Ocean by Sue Thornton

    Students research the various zones found on the ocean floor and what organisms live there. Sketch the various zones using Crayola Colored Pencils.

    Organize a field trip to a local aquarium. Prior to the visit, students compose questions that they will seek to answer while on the trip. After the event, students post learning to a class blog.

    Have students draw a map of the world, outlining each country's borders. Label each country, body of water, etc. Divide students into small groups and have each group investigate one ocean system, looking at the health of the ecosystem. If a body of water is found to be unhealthy, students can identify species of ocean life that may be endangered, as well as what is being done, if anything, to restore the environment to a healthy status.


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