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TeachNet NYC: Lesson Plans
The Cay: Creatures of the Coral Reef

Project URL:  http://teachersnetwork.org/teachnet-lab/ps101/awoloshin/unit1.htm 

How it works:

The purpose of this unit is to make a connection between science and literature. After reading the first five chapters of the novel The Cay, children will appreciate and be able to describe the physical characteristics of a coral reef, as well as describe and distinguish between the many living creatures found on the reef. The students will use computer technology to research the formation of coral reefs, their physical characteristics, and the plants and animals inhabiting them. Students will research reefs on the Internet. Using the links provided by the teacher, students will fill in a database and use the acquired information to write reports. Students will reproduce the living reef by using Apple Works.

Standards addressed:

  • The student produces an informative report. 
  • The student demonstrates an ability to read and comprehend informational materials. 
  • The student demonstrates knowledge of the English language in written and oral work. 
  • The student participates in group meetings.
  • The student uses the Internet to conduct research


Apple Works, Groliers and Encarta MultiMedia Encyclopedia, Kid Pix, SuperPrint, Internet access, The Cay by Theodore Taylor

The students:

This unit is geared for students of average ability in grades 4-6. The students need to have knowledge of the software employed. The students will function best in cooperative groups with each student assigned a role.

Overall value:

Technology is a valuable tool for all students. It enables students to gather information, create databases, and demonstrate creativity. The Internet enables students to come face to face with the actual topics they are researching, and to connect the science studied in school to real world applications.


Teachers should preview web sites in advance. Make sure children are familiar with technology skills needed. Prepare students in advance with photos of reefs.

Audrey Woloshin is a fifth grade teacher in an elementary school in Brooklyn, New York. She has been a teacher for fifteen years. She has been a TeachNet mentee for two years.

Email: hwoloshin@aol.com

Subject area: Science, English

Estimated class periods to complete: 5

Grade levels: 4-6


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