Undersea Plant and Animal Life

Undersea Plant and Animal Life lesson plan

Get to know the living things in the great big underwater world.

  • 1.

    Kindergarten and primary children find out about the relationships between land and water. Use this information to get started: Polar bears, penguins, and seagulls live on land but feed on sea plants and creatures. Sea anemones, crabs, shellfish, and seaweed live on shore between the tides. Phytoplankton and zooplankton float close to the surface. Among the creatures that swim freely in the sea are tuna, jellyfish, shrimp, and herring. Creatures that live on or close to the sea bed are rays, cod, starfish, and sea urchins. Read books such as <i>Very Last First Time</i> to better picture an ocean environment.

  • 2.

    Intermediate-level students examine this topic in greater depth, studying different conditions and species that are found at various water levels (tidal zone, shallows, coral reefs, mid-ocean, and ocean floor). Consider how light fades into darkness at deeper layers of ocean. At mid-ocean, below 600 feet, no plants grow due to the lack of light. Some deep-sea fish, who live below 3,000 feet, do not have eyes, while others, such as the Lantern Fish, seem to make their own light. Much of the deep ocean floor is cold and empty, except for worms that live near magma vents that ooze through cracks. The average depth of the world's oceans is 12,200 feet. The average depth of seas is 650 feet. Find out what the difference is between an ocean and a sea.

  • 3.

    Measure an appropriately-sized square or rectangular piece of cardboard to use as a base for a relief board. Cut it out with Crayola® Scissors.

  • 4.

    On the cardboard base, shape models and build up layers of Crayola Model Magic to depict plant and animal life in and near the sea. Carve and imprint the Model Magic to show the shapes of terrain, textures, and vegetation. Craft sticks and toothpicks work well as modeling tools. Dry overnight.

  • 5.

    Optional: Cover the work area with recycled newspaper. Show the colors of undersea life by painting the undersea scene using Crayola Watercolors or Tempera Paint and Brushes.


  • Younger students study the various species found in and around oceans.
  • Older students examine the variations in underwater life, determined by ocean depth.
  • All students demonstrate their knowledge by creating dimensional relief boards of seascapes.


  • Students research, model, and label plant and animal life in a specific ocean and/or at a specific depth. Or create an imaginary ocean to assess what students learned about animal life.
  • Study aquatic life in the local area, in ponds, lakes, reservoirs, or a fish market. Sketch plant and animal life, talk with water conservation or wildlife experts, and learn about the nearby water-related environment.
  • Write a play about ocean life, or the adventures of a specific animal. Make the story realistic or fanciful, but demonstrate the principles learned through study of undersea life.