How can we be stewards for marine animals?

Questions to hold on to

  • What are you noticing and wondering about marine animals?
  • What marine animals are you getting excited about?  Why?

Add to your thinking

The Digital Notebook is a space to hold your thoughts, questions, and growing understanding throughout this Unit.  You will be able to access it from every Module. Use The Digital Notebook to jot your thinking, take notes, or as a space to develop your writing. You can print and export it anytime, and at the end of lesson 8 you’ll be reminded to save a copy for yourself.

Read Along with the Video

Roll over to see a synopsis and links to read-along text
"Just below the surface is a tangle of weed and driftwood where tiny creatures cling..."
Author Website

One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies

How to Hide an Octopus by Ruth Heller

How many creatures hide in special ways in this book?

Jellies The life of Jellyfish by Twig C. George

Read Along with the Video

Roll over to see a synopsis and links to read-along text
"If you were a jellyfish, you would have two choices—to go up or to go down."
Author Website

Read Along with the Video

Roll over to see a synopsis and links to read-along text
"Here are its tentacles, two, curling and twisting and thirty feet long, waiting for..."
Author Website

Giant Squid by Candace Fleming

Under the sea: Ocean animal moves

Video will open in a new window

Things to Investigate

  • Find a photograph of living things under the sea in one of the books, or online.  Talk with someone about all of the livings things in the photograph.

All Lesson Videos

All Lesson Texts

Standards & BlueTech Alignment

Anchor Phenomena Under the Sea: Ocean Animal Moves
Student Action / Outreach Public Service Announcement (PSA)
Career Connection Marine Veterinarian
Blue Tech Alignment / Ocean Literacy Principles (OLP) OLP 6: The Ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected. (K-2)

OLP 7: The Ocean is largely unexplored. (K-2)

Water Issue(s) Addressed Conservation, Trash, Pollution
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) K-ESS3-3

Communicate solutions that will reduce the impact of humans on the environment.

K-2-ETS1-1 Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
Literacy Standards Language


Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.K.1  With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

Reading informational

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.K.3  With prompting and support, describe the connection between two individuals, events, ideas, or pieces of information in a text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.K.7  With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the text in which they appear (e.g., what person, place, thing, or idea in the text an illustration depicts).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.K.9  With prompting and support, identify basic similarities in and differences between two texts on the same topic (e.g., in illustrations, descriptions, or procedures).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.K.10  Actively engage in group reading activities with purpose and understanding.


CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.3  Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several loosely linked events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred, and provide a reaction to what happened.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.K.7  Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them).

Visual Arts VA:Cr2.3.Ka Create art that represents natural and constructed environments.


Progression of Modules 

Link to Phenomena Board

Inquiry Launch

Module 1

Wondering launch: Underwater Life

Career Connection

Module 2

Career Connection: Meet a marine veterinarian

Inquiry Deep Dive

Module 3

Research: What are marine animals?

Hands-on Investigation

Module 4

Research: How do humans impact marine animals? (Helping JJ the Whale)

Engineering & Design 

Module 5

Engineering challenge: Animal Rescue

Student Action

Module 6

Student Action: Produce Public Service Announcements

Reflection & Assessment

Module 7 

Students explain the phenomenon and reflect on their learning.

Module 8

Exhibition of Learning



Module 1

The purpose of Module 1 is to spark student wonderings about the ocean environment and the animals that live there. What makes this environment and the animals special? Why should we care about protecting the ocean environment and its inhabitants?

Have students ask questions and share their wonderings. As they talk, support them to build on prior knowledge and begin meaning-making around the phenomenon.  

Launch the Anchoring Phenomenon: Under the Sea: Ocean Animal Moves

    • Watch the video once to give students an opportunity to enjoy, exclaim, giggle, and to allow questions to begin bubbling up.  Give them ample time to talk about what they noticed and wondered. 
    • Begin capturing their questions on a chart.  Point out their questions, and watch a second time to notice more and ask more questions. (Potential questions: Did you see…? What is that?  What is it doing? Why is it…? How does it…? Where is …?)  Title the chart “What are we noticing and wondering about marine animals?”
    • Discuss the word “marine”, and invite students to watch the video a second time. Offer prompts to guide their viewing:
  • What did your classmates notice?  See if you can spot that, too!
  • What questions are you holding on to?  Notice if you have more wondering this time.
  • What was your favorite marine animal?  Watch closely to notice more!

Offer time to talk again, capture more noticing, wondering.  Discuss the rich variety of marine life, and let students know they will be exploring and learning much more about what lives under the sea, and why these marine animals matter


Elicit prior knowledge about marine animals. Create a T-chart of land habitat and water habitat. Print pictures of land and marine animals, and have children sort the different animals into the land and water habitat columns. Have a discussion with students about their sorts and why they sorted their animals the way that they did. Get students to start thinking about what makes a marine animal able to live in the ocean.



Read Aloud
Read aloud varied texts about marine animals to add to the collective wonder, and begin constructing understanding about the animals. Choose both compelling nonfiction and realistic fiction so children not only learn facts, but gain a sense of the beauty and awe of these animals.  If possible, choose texts about marine animals from the launch video. Remind students of the animal in the video, invite them to notice the ways texts help us to answer questions, and ask more questions.

  • We’re going to read a book about a marine animal you all noticed in our video.  Let’s look at our chart, and remember our questions about that animal. As we read, notice if the author helps us to answer some of our questions.  And, notice if you have new questions!

Add new questions to chart already started, or begin a new chart about that particular marine animal

Digital read alouds if needed: 

One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies

How To Hide An Octopus and Other Sea Creatures by Ruth Heller

Jellies: The Life of Jelly Fish by Twig C. George

Giant Squid by Candace Fleming

Shared and Small Group Reading
Recommendations for leveled and TK/Kindergarten 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 TK/Kindergarten may include:

  • Differentiate between fiction and nonfiction
  • Understand basic text structure
  • Differentiate illustrations and photograph
  • Notice and talk about information in illustrations / photographs and words
  • Hold information up to own personal experience
  • Have opinions about  a text
  • Understanding words from context

Independent Reading
To the extent possible, gather a collection of visually appealing nonfiction texts about marine animals in a range of levels and perspectives for children to peruse and read independently . If possible, include texts about the same animals in the video.  Allow students independent time to explore and read with their questions in mind, ask more questions, and construct understanding. Invite students to talk about the marine animals they’re exploring.

  • What marine animals are you getting excited about?
  • What in the book(s) is making you feel that way?

In this unit, children will work as writers to craft texts that compel their readers to care about marine animals, and persuade them towards stewardship.  The children will be studying the ways books work, and stapling pages of paper together to make their own books.

Encourage children to consider what exciting new thinking about marine animals they might like to share with others.  Offer ample paper, and the option to staple pages to make books. Model using a mix of pictures and words to capture your own wonder and thinking about a marine animal, drawing to capture your thinking, and moving from drawing to writing.  As you share your draft, model drawing from the range of talk to help you add more.

  • As authors, we’re going to gather our thinking about our favorite marine animals and make books so others can read about them, and learn to care about them as much as we do.  I’ve been really excited by the ___ I saw in our video.  I read some more about this animal, and I think I want to write about how they ___.  I remember how they looked – I’m going to draw it first to help me remember…

As a pre-assessment, have students use books or photos online to look closely at their favorite marine animal.  Encourage them to notice specific details, such as whether or not it has legs or fins, how many fins, blowhole, nose or gills, etc.  

Then, encourage them to draw their favorite marine animal as realistically as possible in their inquiry notebooks. Notice whether or not children add details such as fins, tail, gills, antenna…  We’ll return to these drawings for comparison at the end of the unit.

Gather students to discuss:

  • What did you learn about your marine animal? 
  • What new questions do you have about the ocean environment from the video?


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