Let’s Learn About Ocean Animals!

Hello friends:) It’s my favorite time of year! No…not summer…I DO love that too! It is time for our ocean animal research projects and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the research the kiddos can do this time of year. We spend A.L.L. year getting ready for this moment! Now, we can take all we know about writing and non-fiction text and actually USE the skills altogether to demonstrate our growth! Woohoo! I shared on my last Five for Friday that our team got ready by decorating our WHOLE pod! Click HERE to see that picture. Well, naturally that has to carry into our classroom. I add the projects that the kiddos do around the room as they do them. So, that means right now our room isn’t as decorated as our pod, but we are getting there!

We’ve got our shark KWL posted! We also wrote what we really want to learn about in these super cute portholes from Falling Into First’s Ocean pack.

Then we started right in. We start with the 6 Kingdoms of Living Things. Almost all the living things on our classification are found in the ocean, since that is our focus. This is a LONG pictorial, generally spread across two days, but what the kiddos take away from it is amazing! They soak up so much information from this poster. They also need to know the classification for the animal that they will be researching, so they can refer to this poster to help them find that information out.
After we learn about the 6 kingdoms, we move on to the zones of the ocean. We make this large anchor chart. We also watch the ocean habitat video on Brainpop jr.
The kiddos will also need to know what zone of the ocean their animal lives in. This chart is helpful for them to know that. 
Once we have finished these posters, we are ready to start a class research project. I like to do one as a class first so that they know what I am looking for in their reports. It also helps them to pinpoint more of their research because I model how to determine what are important facts to include and facts that may not be as important. For this research project, the kiddos each get a research booklet that has pages for different aspects of the animal. There is a page on habitat, appearance, predators, etc. When doing our class project, I make posters for each page. 
As the kiddos research each section, they write their facts on a post-it and stick it to the poster. I leave these up as they work on their individual projects so that they have something to refer to. For our group project, the kiddos do all their research in partners. When they do their individual projects, they won’t have a partner. Also, if you look above each poster, I have another small poster that has guiding questions for each section. I have learned that no matter how much you practice the kiddos will still come up to you and say, “What am I supposed to do for predator/behavior/habitat?” These little posters help to eliminate that. 
Once we finish our research, we will draft our research. I have a scaffolded draft page that has a paragraph for each section researched. Then we will write a final draft. This whole process takes us about 4 days. Through this process, the kiddos see what I expect for this project and how to be successful with it. When they are finished with their individual projects, which takes about 2 weeks, they will also create a presentation which will be a poster, power point or brochure. I will share those when we get that far:)
Here are the two resources I use to support this whole process. The first is our actual research booklet. I recently updated it, so it looks a little different than the pictures above, but it sure did need a little facelift.
The second, is a set of ocean passages. These are leveled from A-I. Though many of my students are above an I, they are still full of information and they are good for supporting animal classification and ocean zones. I use them during guided reading. For my students who are a little higher, I have them kiddos sort through the information and work on asking and answering questions. This is to extend their thinking a bit.
I will say…this is a very labor intensive project. The kiddos have to do A LOT from the beginning to the end. They have to use both web-based research as well as books. I want to them to be able to pull information from multiple resources and then put it together in a cohesive format. That is why the draft paper is specific and broken down the way it it. My students have great success with this project. I hope yours will too!
I hope that if you are also doing some ocean animal research, you will find these resources helpful. It’s so exciting to see how much they have learned this past year. It is definitely my most favorite part of the end of the year!


  1. P.J. and Lizzy
    January 3, 2018 / 10:22 am

    Where did you get the pictures for your 6 kingdoms and the zones posters?

    • 2 Literacy Teachers
      February 23, 2018 / 4:39 pm

      Hello:) We have a GLAD certified trainer at our school and she created the 6 kingdoms poster and got us all the pictures for it. I would assume it was from google images but I’m not sure. She no longer works with us so I can’t ask her. Sorry about that! For the zones poster, I found those pictures on google images. I can’t share them with you because they are copyrighted and not my work but you could find them all there.


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