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Skin, Scales, & Spines

Take a deep, deep look at creatures of the deep, deep sea! Students create a 3-D model of an amazing ocean creature, inside and out.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. What kinds of creatures live at each zone of the sea as it gets deeper and deeper? How do creatures at the deeper levels adapt to the unique underwater conditions? Which creature captures your imagination? Invite students to find out more about it. Where does it fit into the undersea food chain? How does the underwater environment affect its lifestyle? During their research, student groups find pictures of the creature and diagrams of its internal body structure.
    2. Students use Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils to outline the creature's body shape on cotton or 50/50 cotton/polyester fabric. With Crayola Scissors, cut around the shape, leaving a wide border around the outline. Students trace the shape and cut it out so that they now have two identical pieces.
    3. Place the fabric pieces on newspaper topped with white paper so that the pieces are mirror images. On one piece, students use Crayola Fabric Markers to draw the creature as it appears on the outside--scales, skin, spines, or whatever is characteristic of your creature. On the other piece, draw the creature’s internal structure.
    4. Run a line of Crayola School Glue around the edge of one piece of fabric, leaving a space about as wide as your hand without glue. Turn the other piece over and place it on top of the glued piece so the edges meet. Your designs will be inside. Air-dry the glue overnight.
    5. Ask students to cut off any extra parts of the border. At the curves, make snips almost up to the glue. Turn the fish inside out so designs show. Stuff the inside of the creature. Glue the opening closed. Air-dry before telling classmates about choices of undersea creatures.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.

    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: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    MATH: Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.

    SCI: Use models to evaluate how environmental changes in a habitat affect the number and types of organisms that live there; some remain, move in, move out, and/or die.

    VA: Select media, techniques, an processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of choices.

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

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: National Geographic Readers: Weird Sea Creatures by Laura Marsh; Clown Fish and Sea Anemones Work Together by Martha E. H. Rustad; Coral Reef Hideaway: The Story of a Clown Anemonefisha by Doe Boyle; Octopus' Den by Deidre Langland

    Students collaborate to create a Deep Sea Diving Memory Game. Students use information gathered during research of sea animals to create cards with questions and corresponding cards with answers to match in this memory game. Play!

    Students work in teams of two to investigate fish that have been added to the endangered species list. What has happened to cause the numbers of this species to decline? Where does this species typically make its home? What is being done to save the species? What more, in your opinion, can be done to ensure the continued presence of this species in Earth's water systems?


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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