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Standards & BlueTech Alignment

Student Action / Outreach Students hold a poetry reading to raise awareness of the power of kelp forests. 
Career Connection Aquaculture Farmer
Blue Tech Alignment / Ocean Literacy Principles (OLP) OLP 5: The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems. (K-2)

OLP 6: The Ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected. (K-2)

Water Issue(s) Addressed Conservation, Sustainable Agriculture, Consumption
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) 1-LS1-1 Use materials to design a solution to a human problem by mimicking how plants use their external parts to help them survive, grow, and meet their needs.

1-LS3-1 Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
Literacy Standards Language 


Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs differing in manner (e.g., look, peek, glance, stare, glare, scowl) and adjectives differing in intensity (e.g., large, gigantic) by defining or choosing them or by acting out the meanings.

Reading literature


Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.


With prompting and support, read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1.


Informational text


Use the illustrations and details in a text to describe its key ideas.


With prompting and support, read informational texts appropriately complex for grade 1.



With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.


Progression of Modules

Link to Phenomena Board

Module 1

Inquiry Launch

Module 2

Inquiry Deep Dive

Research: What is the relationship among animals in the kelp forest? 

Module 3

Hands-on Investigation

Research: How do humans use the kelp forest?  What are the health benefits of kelp?

Module 4

Career Connection

Meet an offshore aquaculture farmer

Module 5

Engineering & Design

Engineering challenge: Protect a plant

Module 6

Student Action

Create poetry eBook and Awareness Campaign

Module 7 

Reflection & Assessment

Module 8

Exhibition and Reflection



The purpose of Module 1 is to spark student wonderings and have students ask questions relating to the phenomenon of the coastal seas, with an emphasis on the kelp forest. Students build on their prior knowledge of kelp and kelp forests, and begin sense-making around the phenomenon.


Launch the Anchoring Phenomenon

Our Planet: Coastal Seas

This is a long video, so watching in segments across the week is suggested.  Varied underwater coastal habitats are featured, beginning with marine meadow, then on to coral reefs, California kelp forests, Alaskan coastal waters, the South American coast, and the islands of Raja Ampat in Southeast Asia.  Segmenting by the habitats would be supportive.

With each segment, offer students time to talk, and begin capturing their noticings and questions on a chart.  Watch the segment a second time, and focus on the relationships between the living creatures.

  • What is this habitat? How would we describe it?
  • What kind of marine plants grow in this habitat?
  • What marine animals did you see?
  • What is the relationship between marine plants and animals in a habitat?
  • What role do humans play?

Discuss the relationships between the living creatures in each habitat, noticing the interdependence of the animals.  Create a chart titled “Marine Habitats”, and begin recording the varied marine habitats, along with the marine animals that live there, other learning and questions.



Introduce the Question to Investigate: What is special about the kelp forest habitat?


Read Aloud

In this unit, students will be reading a mix of nonfiction and realistic fiction focused on the rich variety of animal, plant and algae life in the kelp forest.  They will gain factual knowledge from the nonfiction as they strengthen their understanding about habitats and food webs.  This knowledge will be expanded as students construct a deeper understanding of the beauty of the uniqueness of each animal in the habitat, and focus their inquiry on specific favorites.  

Read aloud books about one or varied marine habitats, starting with:

The Hidden Forest by Jeannie Baker


Identify the big ideas about the kelp forest the author is conveying, and the words or phrases that support the ideas and help readers understand the look and feel of the habitat(s). Encourage students to notice more, ask more questions, and add to the Ocean Habitat chart.

  • What does this text have you thinking about this habitat?
  • What in the text caused that thinking?
  • How do you feel about this habitat? 
  • What’s fascinating / beautiful / puzzling about it?


Shared and Small Group Reading

Recommendations for leveled and First Grade NGSS-aligned texts for shared and small group reading are included in the Blue Tech materials matrix.  Shared reading instruction for this unit should include:

  • Concepts about print targeted to developmental needs
  • Overarching meaning making strategies as outlined in this unit

Additionally, shared and small group reading should include focus points specific to the nonfiction genre.  This genre specific instruction will support children’s meaning making as they delve deeply into meaning making in both read aloud and independent reading.  Focus points for nonfiction genre shared and small group reading in first Grade may include any focus points included in the previous grade level which require added support, and:

  • Notice and use text features (table of contents, diagrams, captions, …)
  • Scan to gain a sense of the text and quickly locate information
  • Make meaning by thinking between illustrations / photographs and running text
  • Align author choices to purpose and point of view


Independent Reading

Gather a collection of visually appealing fiction and nonfiction texts about marine animals and habitats in a range of levels and perspectives.  If possible, include texts about kelp forests and the animals that live in these habitats, such as sea otters, sea horses, dolphins, seals, etc.  Allow students independent time to explore and read with their questions in mind, ask more questions, and construct understanding.  Encourage children to use their inquiry notebooks to draw or jot ideas or information they find compelling.



Students dive into an aspect of the kelp forest habitat that interests them, such as the kelp or seaweed, or a particular marine animal. They make observations and create an observational drawing of the aspect of the kelp forest that is most intriguing to them in their inquiry notebooks. Invite students to spend time noticing one thing, and pay attention to the details.  Encourage them to incorporate the details into their drawing.



Writing Workshop

Children will be writing poetry as a persuasive tool in this unit.  Launch the work by reading poetry about marine animals and habitats, such as:

Gulper Eel by Kate Coombs

Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks by Skila Brown

At the Sea Floor Café: Odd Ocean Critter Poems by Leslie Bulion, illustrated by Leslie Evans

In the Sea by David Elliot

Notice what the poets choose to write about, and how these poems make readers feel about the animals and habitats. Invite the children to begin gathering ideas for their own poetry about marine animals and habitats.

  • What marine animals or habitats would you like to write poems about?
  • Why? 
  • Who will you be writing for?
  • What do you need to know about these animals or habitats?
  • How can you plan your reading to support your writing?

Encourage children to jot their ideas, and share them with partners.  Make the poetry texts available to them so they can reread their favorite poems.  Begin to notice aspects of poems, such as titles, sparsity of words, interesting ways the words and lines are arranged, etc.



Invite students to draw an initial model of a kelp forest habitat in their inquiry notebooks.

Prompts for the model can include:

  • What does a kelp forest habitat look like?
  • What parts make up the habitat?
  • What animals live there?
  • Why do you think the kelp forest is important to protect?

Notice whether students consider the whole of the habitat – plants, marine animals, ocean floor, a sense of depth of the ocean, providing space for the long upward growth of the kelp, etc.  Hold on to these initial drawings for comparison at the conclusion of the unit.



Return to the Question to Investigate: What is special about the kelp forest habitat?

Have students share their responses to the question.

Guide students in completing the Phenomena Board as a class by scribing what they share back about what they did and what they figured. Help students make a connection from their learning in this module back to the Anchor Phenomenon. Below is a teacher example of what students might say:


Investigative Phenomenon Question to investigate What we did What we figured out Connections to the phenomenon Questions we still have
Our Planet: Coastal Seas  

The kelp forest is a special habitat that supports different animals.

What is special about the kelp forest habitat? We watched videos. We read The Hidden Forest. We did an observational drawing of kelp forest. We read poetry. We made an initial model of a kelp forest. Kelp forests are huge, underwater forests in the ocean. They are home to marine animals. Kelp is important to humans too. There are many different ocean environments that are home to plants and animals. Complete with students.

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