Under the Sea Unit Study title overlaid over children's mermaid and aquatic artwork

A Fun Under the Sea Unit Study

This fun and easy deep-dive into life under the sea captures imaginiations while teaching about marine ecology, geography, conservation, and literature.

I’ll walk you through a fun and educational under the sea unit study, designed to be flexible enough to meet different elementary age groups.

As with all of our unit studies, you can pick and choose the activities you’re including and your schedule.

You might find that knocking out the under the sea unit study in one week is a great fit, or you can have a weekly unit study day and complete over a month. Whatever works best.

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Why Choose an Under the Sea Unit Study?

The wonders of the ocean can foster a passion for learning and the environment. Fun fact. The ocean covers over 70% of the Earth’s surface and is teeming with diverse life forms.

It’s full of rich ecosystems and it’s easy to ignite curiosity and a love for learning.

Beyond an academic focus, an under the sea unit study can ignite fantasies and deeper studies of mermaids and treasure hunting, pirates and a sense of wonder.

As an interdisciplinary major myself, I’m a massive proponent of multi-sensory learning and linking learning together for better retention and understanding.

With that said, let’s look at this unit study already.

Under the Sea Unit Description

This Under the Sea unit study is divided into four main topics covered throughout the activities. Each topic focuses on an essential aspect of the marine world:

Marine Life

At the heart of the ocean is the incredible array of fauna that inhabits its depths. Through the marine life section, students will learn about the varied species residing in the ocean, their unique adaptations, and the interdependent ecosystems they form.

Ocean Geography

Understanding the layout of the world’s oceans and the phenomena that govern them is crucial. Ocean geography introduces students to tides, currents, the water cycle, and how these factors impact global climates and human activities.

Ocean Conservation

Exploring ocean conservation educates students about the importance of protecting our seas and how to take action. It includes discussions on pollution, overfishing, climate change, and the critical role of marine reserves in safeguarding biodiversity.

Ocean Art

Seeing as how I host an online art club, and I’m a massive believer in using all of the senses for learning, it’s only natural that we devote a significant amount of our time to hands-on learning in various art forms.

Under the Sea Activities for Kids Grades K-5

I always start my unit studies with a core refernce book. I like to add at least four more books when possible, so we’re reading a new book everyday.

Leaving those books out encourages casual exploration. At least it does in my house.

For our Under the Sea Unit Study Literature we chose:

  • The Big Book of Blue by Yuval Zommer
  • Coral Reefs by Gail Gibbons
  • Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
  • The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole
  • Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea by Robert Burleigh

After reading the Big of Blue we Jump Into the Topics

Marine Life Activity Monday

Read: The Big Book of The Blue by Yuval Zomer

Goal: Understand that different types of animals use different means of locomotion (movement).

Information: Teach students about the unique adaptations that allow marine animals to move around in their underwater habitats.

  1. Mammals: Marine mammals include animals like dolphins, whales, seals, sea lions, and sea otters. They have special adaptations to live in water and often give birth to live young. Marine mammals have to surface to breathe air.
  2. Fish: Fish are the most common type of marine life. They have gills to breathe underwater and scales covering their bodies. Examples include clownfish, sharks, and angelfish.
  3. Crustaceans: Crustaceans are marine animals with hard exoskeletons, jointed legs, and two pairs of antennae. Kids might be familiar with creatures like crabs, lobsters, shrimp, and barnacles.
  4. Mollusks: Mollusks are soft-bodied creatures often protected by shells. Some examples kids may know are snails, octopuses, squids, clams, and oysters.
  5. Reptiles: Marine reptiles include animals like sea turtles which live in the oceans. They have flippers to help them swim and breathe air using lungs.

Locomotion Activity:

Use a balloon filled with water in a bathtub to explore jet propulsion. Don’t tie the ends and let it go in the air. Then, use that same concept to explore how octopuses, jelly fish, and other animals move through the water.

Ocean Zones Tuesday

Read: Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea by Robert Burleigh

Goal: Learn that the ocean floor has changes in elevation the same way that land above water does. The depth of the ocean creates layers, known as zones.

This is a great opportunity to research ocean explorers and how they problem-solve to research the vast area under the water.

Watch: Layers of the Ocean

Bring this to life with our Under the Sea Art Unit. With a fun mermaid or sea turtle option, we transition from a lighter upper layer to a darker bottom layer. Perfect for younger learners and creative upper elementary students.

Ocean Art Wednesday

Read: Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle

Incorporating art into this Under the Sea Unit Study allows students to express their creativity and explore different mediums. Along with our guided art lesson options, some ideas for ocean-themed art projects include:

Ocean Conservation Thursday

Read: Coral Reefs by Gail Gibbons

You can teach children about ocean conservation and the impact human activities have on marine life without leaving home.

I love virtual field trips for education if you don’t have an acquarium close to you. Choose what you want to focus on and what you feel is appropriate to introduce your student to in terms of conservation and destruction.

Did you know that you can view a live feed of the Great Barrier Reef? The Nature Conservance Australia has a camera above and below water. Note, however, that the camera only operates during local daytime hours. During local evening hours you’ll have access to pre-recorded footage.

A few other marine-focused virtual field trips are:

Ocean Activities: Write and Reflect Friday

Read: The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole

I love the Magic School Bus books because there’s such a fantastic mix of science and fun. You can reread them several times and focus on something new each time. You can spend the day focusing on the science here or make it a strictly writing activity.

We’re working on our writing here. (Why is it SO HARD?) So for us, Fridays are a chance to journal or respond to a writing prompt.

You can choose to go the fantasy route with our Mermaid Writing Prompts, or you can go the more traditional story route with our Under the Sea Unit writing prompts.

If you’re not a writing family yet, or that’s not one of the areas you need more practice, take the day to creatively respond to the book. Maybe through drawing, painting, sculpting or even acting out scenes from the story! The possibilities are endless.

No matter which direction you choose, make sure to reflect and share what you learned about the ocean and its inhabitants through this book.

Create a Fun-Filled Under the Sea Unit Study

In addition to reading and writing about the ocean, you can also make a fun-filled unit study out of it. This will allow your child to explore different aspects of the ocean in a hands-on way.

Here are some ideas for activities that you can include in your under the sea unit study:

  • Science experiments: Conduct simple experiments such as making an ocean density jar or creating a model of the ocean floor to understand concepts like buoyancy, underwater topography, and ocean currents.
  • Art projects: Get creative with art projects. Along with the lessons listed on our site you can also make an ocean diorama, paint seashells, or design your own sea creature using various materials.
  • Nature walks: Take a trip to the beach or visit an aquarium to observe marine life in their natural habitat and learn about different species.
  • Cooking activities: Whip up some ocean-inspired treats like blue Jell-O with gummy fish, sea turtle cookies, or octopus hot dogs to make learning about the ocean fun and tasty.
  • Field trip ideas: Plan a visit to a marine life rescue center, a tidal pool, or a boat tour to learn more about the ocean and its inhabitants.
  • Virtual experiences: Take advantage of virtual resources such as online aquarium tours, live webcams at the bottom of the sea, or virtual scuba diving to explore the ocean from the comfort of your own home.

Explore Other Unit Studies

We love unit studies and project-based learning in our homeschool. If you loved this Under the Sea Unit Study, try out these resources:

Bring the Ocean to Life With An Under the Sea Unit Study

The ocean is vast and fascinating, teeming with life and mysteries waiting to be explored.

You can gently explore the wonders of the deep blue in our Under the Sea Art Unit. It’s an excellent way to combine the wonders of the ocean with age-appropriate art techniques.

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