Teachers Network
Translate Translate English to Chinese Translate English to French
  Translate English to German Translate English to Italian Translate English to Japan
  Translate English to Korean Russian Translate English to Spanish
Lesson Plan Search
Proud New Owners of teachnet.org... We're Very Flattered... But Please Stop Copying this Site. Thank You.
Our Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Popular Teacher Designed Activities
TeachNet NYC Dirctory of Lesson Plans

Teachers Network Leadership Institute
How-To Articles
Videos About Teaching
Effective Teachers Website
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Teacher Research
For NYC Teachers
For New Teachers

TeachNet Grant:
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
Other Grant Winners
Math and Science Learning
Impact II
Grant Resources
Grant How-To's
Free Resources for Teachers
Our Mission
   Press Releases
   Silver Reel
   2002 Educational Publishers Award


Ready-Set-Tech: Take a Walk on the Wild Side: A Unit on Ecosystems
Take a Walk on the Wild Side: A Unit on Ecosystems
Exploring a Pond as an Ecosystem | Discovering the Ocean | A Desert Discovery | What Is a Rainforest?

Discovering the Ocean
The oceans of our planet cover over 70% of its surface and hold 97% of its water. When we look down at the Earth from outer space, most of what we see appears as one body of water. However, because the continents loosely divide the water, four or five separate ocean areas are recognized: the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Indian, the Arctic--and some scientists consider the waters around Antarctica to be a separate fifth ocean as well. The importance of introducing our students to this vast ecosystem cannot be underestimated.

In this lesson, students will learn the various elements that make up an ocean and the importance of their inter-relationships through research and discovery.

Phillip Seymour
Phillip Seymour is a nationally recognized education trainer and consultant on visual perception and arts/media curriculum integration. He has taught in the New York City public schools and teaches and trains at national universities and educational institutions. Presently, Phillip is an instructor at New York University and the City University of New York.


Science, Geography, Technology, Language Arts, Visual Arts, and Social Studies

Grade Level: 3-6

Time: 5-6 hours

Materials: 2-3 computers with Internet access, LCD projector, printer, access to books and a library, notebooks and writing implements, art supplies for creating a mural.








Students will:
•  Learn to identify the major oceans of the world, find their location and what countries they border
•  Learn and discover the elements that make up an ocean including animals, plant life, and geographical features
•  Research the elements of the ocean using books, magazines, the Internet, and field trips
•  Introduce students to the concept of ecosystems as they exist in the ocean
•  Learn to create a visual representation through drawing
•  Create a class mural displaying what they have learned in their study of the ocean
•  Express their thoughts, idea, and feelings about the ocean through narrative and literacy engagement

Web sites:



Teachers can refresh their knowledge of our world's oceans by visiting the following resources

From the American Museum of Natural History:
1) Great Ocean Life Web Sources:
2) Journey Through the Ocean for Students:
3) Under the Sea Web Research:

Other great web resources:
1) Activities and ideas for students and teachers: http://fi.edu/fellows/fellow8/dec98/main.html
2) Good map sources and downloads:
3) Physical features of the ocean:

4) Good ocean facts:
5) Visual guide to the ocean's elements:
6) Virtual tour of the ocean:
http://news .nationalgeographic.com/news
7) Fish in the ocean:
8) Great visual introduction to the ocean:
9) Visual site of the ocean floor:
10) Great resource on the all the ocean's elements:
11) Direct answers to questions about the ocean:
12) Multimedia resources for the ocean:
13) Elements that make up the ocean:
14) Interesting site touring NASA's ocean exhibit:

Book and Magazine Resources:

1) http://geocities.com/Athens/Atrium/
2) http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/OCEAN_PLANET/
3) http://atozteacherstuff.com/Themes/Ocean


Begin by reading a short story or richly worded poem about the ocean. Pick your own or find one from the resource list of books and magazines referenced earlier. Additional exciting and unusual facts and stories about the ocean that students will enjoy can be found on the web site:

After the reading, ask the students to tell of their experiences with the ocean, what they already know about the ocean, or what they may have gleaned from your reading. Ask such questions as:
•  What is an ocean?
•  What are the different parts or elements that make one up?
•  Do you see the oceans separated or part of one?
•  Do you know any names of the oceans?
•  Where do can oceans be found on a map?
•  What countries border oceans?

Include questions that are experiential and include the senses:

•  What smells do you think of? Sounds? Sight and physical experiences?

Write down responses of the students on chart paper in front of the room. Have a large map of the world in front of the class and each student should also have their own map.
You can download maps from these three sources:
•  http://nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/atlas
•  http://mos.org/oceans/planet/profiles.html
•  http://mnsu.edu/emuseum/

During the discussion, when oceans or countries are mentioned, have the students point out where they are located and to name them. Ask students: what hemispheres are they in? The class and student maps should be colored and labeled with crayons or markers to distinguish the world's oceans.

Opening 2:

As another introductory exercise, take the students on a field trip to an ocean field office, museum, aquarium, or other facility that has a display or resource to experience the elements and ecosystems of an ocean. They should be asked to take notes in discovering as many varied elements they can find that make up an ocean.

Excellent field guides for this research can be found on the American Museum of Natural history's web site:   http://amnh.org/nationalcenter/online_field_journal

Try to point out such elements as: fish, mammals, crustaceans, mollusks, plants, invertebrates, and landmass under the water.

The American Museum of Natural History's Milstein Hall of Ocean life, for example, has an excellent experiential ocean display. Its web site is not only valuable for pre-trip preparation to the hall, but offers excellent online information for student research:

Other pre-trip introductory web sites from the American Museum of Natural History resources are:
•  http://ology.amnh.org/biodiversity/treeoflife/index.html
•  http://ology.amnh.org/marinebiology/
•  http://ology.amnh.org/marinebiology/


After the trip, consolidate the students' findings. Ask the students to report on their discoveries orally and from their field guides. On a chart, write as many of the elements and parts of the ocean they mention from their discoveries and discussion. These should include all the elements highlighted in Opening 2, in addition to any others they mention.

Create student groups of four and tell them they will be exploring the ocean to further define its elements. Each group will be assigned a topic. They will be asked to prepare an oral/visual presentation as well as a written/visual one. Visuals be found online, or by using print resources, such as drawings or photographic images.

The oral/visual presentation will be a group presentation to the class and the written/visual presentation will become a chapter in a class book on the ocean. Chapter formats for the book should be pre-determined as the students do their research to encourage consistency within the book.

A selection of the following resources should be made available to the students for research:

Web sites:
•  http://ology.amnh.org/marinebiology/?src=k_p
(Great source for ocean habitats)
•  http://geocities.com/Athens/
(Excellent children's resource for underwater life)
•  http://germantown.k12.il.us/html/sea.html
(Really good virtual underwater animal tour with photographs)
•  http://fi.edu/fellows/fellow8/dec98/index.html
(Nice interactive web site on ocean creatures)
•  http://seasky.org/sea.html
(Good visual site exploring ocean life)
•  http://pbs.org/oceanrealm/seadwellers/index.html
(Wonderful visual site for sea creatures and life)
•  http://atlanticava.org/webandcamsites/ocean.html
(Easy access to other web sites for specific features of the ocean
•  http://library.thinkquest.org/5194/?tqskip1=1
(Great visual interactive site on all elements of the ocean)
•  http://secretsatsea.org/main.html
(Super children's interactive site on ocean questions)
•  http://tramline.com/tours/sci/oceank/_tourlaunch1.htm
(Virtual tram tour of the ocean, informative)
•  http://netvet.wustl.edu/marine.htm
(Marine mammal web site, good visuals)
•  http://oceanicresearch.org/lesson.html
(Great visual tutorial on the oceans inhabitants)
•  http://aquarium.org/jellies/index.htm
(Super jelly fish site)
•  http://proteacher.com/ 1 10054.shtml
(Good web site for underwater life)
•  http://pbs.org/wnet/nature/humpback/
(All about the whales. Interactive site)
•  http://pbs.org/wnet/nature/sharks
(Great site about sharks and stingrays)
•  http://pbs.org/kcet/shapeoflife/animals/index.html
(Introductory site on jellyfish, coral, anemones)

Books & Magazines:
•  http://geocities.com/Athens/
(Great resources)
•  http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/
(Marine education books for children)


As the students are mentored during their research, pay attention to equal and cooperative group interaction and the helping students learn the skills for gathering research on the Internet.

Begin gathering materials for the creation of a large class book. Use large-size construction paper, backed by mat board for the book's pages. Keep the book large and visible in class. The binder can be created from three or four large rings to hold the pages together.

Also begin gathering materials to create a class ocean mural. It should be a cut-away view that depicts various levels of the ocean exemplifying the students' research and findings. Keep it realistic. For example, use brown construction paper for the ocean floor and blue paper for the water. The mural should be placed outside the classroom in an appropriate place for full display to engage students from other classrooms.

Some excellent ideas on the mural construction can be found on these web sites:
•  http://meddybemps.com/deepblue/thereef.html
•  http://idahoptv.org/ntti/nttilessons/9/99johnson.htm
•  http://art-rageous.net/


Class book. The student groups compile and present their final research reports to the class. Pay attention to equal, per-student participation. Their reports will make up the chapters in the class book. Assign roles in creating the book's cover, table of contents, general assembly, visuals, etc. Labeled images supporting the text should be included in the book, as well as a visual cover.

Ocean mural: Students may begin creating a class mural at any point during the development of the research. The groups contribute to the mural based on the element of the ocean they researched, always sharing their knowledge with the other students. They can paint on the mural, create 3D representations from construction paper, or use a multitude of found materials. Elements of the ocean should be labeled to encourage learning.  

Narrative and literacy engagement. Ask the students to write about the ocean choosing from a number of different genres; poems, letters from under the ocean, points-of-view from different parts of the ocean, a journal of an explorer or oceanographer. Post these near the ocean mural for fully integrated curricula experience.


Each group presents a written and oral report on their study. Look for evidence of individual contribution to the oral and written reports. The groups and individuals should address questions such as:
•  What is an ocean?
•  Why is it considered an ecosystem? How does your research support this?
•  What are the world's oceans and where are they in the world? What countries border them?

Also, assess student contribution to the class mural, as well as narrative and literacy contributions regarding the learned ocean content.



Other lessons in this ecosystem unit include:
Exploring a Pond as an Ecosystem
A Desert Discovery

What Is a Rainforest?


Come across an outdated link?
Please visit The Wayback Machine to find what you are looking for.


Journey Back to the Great Before