When kids learn about biomes and ecosystems, it seems a little dry and distant. It’s unlikely they’ll take a trip to a rainforest or the tundra during the unit, (but not impossible!) so these fabulous lesson plans, movies, activities, and books are the next best thing. Skpe with a marine biologist! Pour over gorgeous photographs! Play with trading cards featuring the coral reefs! Grow your own “coral reefs”! Teachers and parents can transform remote coral reefs into memorable lessons for kids with these 18 activities.
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(Free) Lesson Plans about Coral Reefs
An extra bonus lesson for high school classes:
How do coral reef ecosystems demonstrate the ecological principles of shifting baselines, disturbance, succession, and sustainability?
Books about Coral Reefs
Coral Reefs by Jason Chin begins as an ordinary story of a girl visiting the library, but soon water pours into the library and coral grows around her as she swims through the plants and animals of the coral reefs. The water color illustrations are realistic and detailed, and the pages are packed with facts about all of the creatures of the amazing coral reefs.
Coral Reefs by Gail Gibbons (one of my favorite science authors for kids!) is packed with geography lessons on coral reefs, facts on the creatures that live there, how the coral reefs grow, and they difference between the day and night colonies.
Reef Life: A Guide to Tropical Marine Life by Brandon Cole contains 800 stunning color photographs of more than 400 species from the coral reefs. The identification guide informs us of their names, species, habitats, ranges and a description particular to the marine animal covered. Kids will pour over the photographs!
Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes and Jeanette Canyon not only has a catchy rhyme packed with marine creatures that live in coral reefs- the images in the book are also phenomenal! The artist has created an underwater world entirely of polymer clay, which was then photographed in brilliant color. I love this entire series!
Videos about Coral Reefs for Kids
Jean-Michael Cousteau takes us to the Souther Pacific on a dive to the pristine coral reef. The brilliant colors and unique animals were amazing to see up close (even better on a big screen!). Kids will love the colors in the coral reef ecosystem, and will hear why some reefs are dying- plus what we can do to save them.
We were lucky enough to watch this documentary in an IMAX theatre- in 3D- and several times as a fish would swim towards us I saw my youngest daughter taking off her glasses because she said “it’s too real!” The movie has really cool scenes from Southern Australia, New Guinea and the Indo-Pacific areas that looked amazing on an IMAX screen, and narrated by Jim Carrey. Under the Sea discusses the problems the coral reefs and oceans will face because of global warming. You can rent this for on-line streaming or get the DVD if you’ll watch it over and over- it would be great for a science class (or budding marine biologist) to own!
Coral Reefs Crafts & Activities for Kids
Create your own colorful coral reef with the Little Passports Coral Reef Kit: this easy science activity for kids demonstrates how crystals form and encourages an understanding of underwater ecosystems. The Companion Guide features new adventures in Australia with Sam & Sofia as they explore the world’s largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef.
Small World Reef Toys
What am I missing? How do your kids like to learn about ecosystems and biomes?