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Whale Watching Adventure

Whales are immensely fascinating creatures. Discover how they look when they come to the water’s surface and then dive deep! This science project will be sure to make a splash!

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Research information about whales. In which oceans do these marine mammals live? Where do they migrate? How many species are there? Compare and contrast the species, including different types of spouts from their blowholes. Note how graceful they look when they come to the surface and then dive back into the water. Find out how global warming is changing whale habitats. What other factors threaten whales?
    2. Imagine you are on a whale-watching adventure. Choose a place on the globe, find out what kinds of whales you are likely to see, and then accurately portray one type of whale in its natural habitat in a sculpture. A paper plate is the perfect surface for making this science project.
    3. Start by representing the landscape where your chosen whale lives. Are there glaciers? Are mountains covered with glistening ice and snow? Or are there icebergs near a ship in the open sea? Here are some ideas to get you started.
    4. To make a realistic-looking glacier, press Crayola Air-Dry Clay flat with your hand. Leave the edges rough. Make a few jagged pieces of mountains for the background. Press glacier pieces on top of the mountains. To add texture to the glaciers, press crumpled aluminum foil into the clay to create crevices.
    5. At the base of your sculpture, press your thumb where the water will be. Make lots of indentations to create a rippled effect.
    6. Make the whale’s tail by rolling two small balls of clay. Pinch and flatten them into ovals. With your thumb and forefinger, pinch the ends to look like a tail. Press the two pieces together to form a diving whale. To make the whale look as if it’s diving into the icy sea, attach the tail to the water. Create a "splash" by pinching some of the clay around the tale.
    7. Add more details if you wish, such as trees in the forest, the name of the place you visited, or a boat drifting in the background. Use modeling tools to add interesting texture.
    8. Air-Dry Clay can be painted when wet or dry. Paint your sculpture with Crayola Washable Watercolors or Tempera—right on the paper plate where you sculpted. Remember to rinse your brushes when you change colors. For deep hues, apply several coats because the clay absorbs the paint.
    9. To add sparkle to the sea or sheen to glaciers, brush on Crayola Pearl-It! or Glitter-It! Tempera Mixing Medium. Air-dry your whale adventure for at least 3 days before you exhibit it.
    10. Orally present information about your whale to your classmates. Be sure to include information about that species’ current status.
  • 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: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    LA: Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate.

    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.

    SCI: Construct an argument with evidence that in a particular habitat some organisms can survive well, some survive less well, and some cannot survive at all.

    SCI: Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.

    SS: Identify and describe examples in which science and technology have changed the lives of people, such as in homemaking, childcare, work, transportation, and communication.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Show how groups and institutions work to meet individual needs and promote the common good, and identify examples of where they fail to do so.

    SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.

    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: Whales by Gail Gibbons; National Geographic Readers: Great Migrations Whales by Laura Marsh; Amos & Boris by William Steig; The Life Cycle of a Whale by Bobbie Kalman

    Students chart the various whale species, documenting where they typically live, how healthy the environment is for the species, and what is being done to keep whale habitats clean and healthy.

    Research community members that have participated in a whale watch. Invite the participant to visit with the class and share his experiences on the whale watch. Discuss how whales make sounds and how their physical characteristics make whales able to leave the water habitat.

    Students investigate the whaling industry and its significant in times past.


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