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What’s Deep in the Ocean?

The ocean’s surface really is just the tip of the iceberg! Oceanographers have found amazing creatures that adapt to drastic underwater conditions.

  • Grade 2
    Grade 3
    Grade 4
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. How much of the ocean is unexplored? 98%! Oceanographers study the ocean’s size, biology, resources, and so much more. Scientists have labeled different depth zones. Each zone has unique characteristics such as water temperature, amount of light, and creatures who live there. Discover all you can about the depths of the ocean. Then make this wallhanging to show what you’ve learned.
    2. Divide wax paper (a bit longer than three sheets of construction paper) into zones with Crayola Markers. At the top is the sunlight zone, followed by the twilight, and then the midnight zones.
    3. Leave a little blank space at the top. Write information about each zone, such as depth from the surface or water pressure (which is 100 times greater in the Twilight Zone than on the Earth’s surface).
    4. On the back of each zone, attach paper with a Crayola Glue Stick (for example, place light blue paper behind the sunlight zone). Illustrate sea animals and plants found within each zone. Capture their colors and any bioluminescence.
    5. Shape Crayola Model Magic into small sea creatures. You might make a jellyfish’s tentacles or a snipe eel’s tail. Sculpt an oceanographer’s boat from Model Magic. Air-dry the sculptures. Decorate them with washable markers if you wish. Use Crayola School Glue to attach the creatures to the correct zones. Air-dry the glue.
    6. Color a cardboard roll. Wrap and glue the blank top of the wax paper around the tube. Glue the boat to the tube as if it were floating on the ocean surface. Air-dry the glue.
    7. Punch a hole at either end of the tube and attach a chenille stem through each hole. Join them to form a hanger. Or thread a ribbon through the tube.
  • Standards

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

    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: Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate conversational, general academic, and domain specific words and phrases, including those that signal spatial and temporal relationships.

    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.

    MATH: Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements from a larger unit to a smaller unit.

    SCI: Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.

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

    SS: Identify and describe ways family, groups, and community influence the individual's daily life and personal choices.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Simon & Schuster Children's Guide to Sea Creatures (Simon & Schuster Children's Guides) by Jinny Johnson; Ocean Animals by Phyllis Perry; Oceans: A Journey from the Surface to the Seafloor (3-D Explorer) by Jen Green

    Encourage students to research the various ways oceanographers have studied the depths of the ocean. What were the earliest submersibles like? How deep have they gone? How fast can they descend? What were they made of?

    Students create a list of adaptations that appear in living things as one descends deeper into the ocean, such as jaws get larger, stomachs expand, bioluminescent features dominate, etc. Students prepare a short presentation which explanations the reason for each adaptation.

    Students use recyclable materials to create an original submersible. Prepare a written explanation of how the submersible works.

    Students take on the role of reporter and videotape daily news reports about life in the abyss, the zone past 3,900 m (13,000 ft). In the reports, students should include historical and literary references.


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