I love studying the ocean with my students because there are so many ways you can help them learn about different elements of ocean life. The picture above was the backdrop for a room full of 3-D ocean life created by each individual student. The picture is ocean-themed material I bought at Joann's Fabric. In the course of study, each child chose a different creature, from seahorses to narwhals to sharks. If you look at the next picture, you will see the life more clearly.
Research was completed on the Internet, through books and videos. The 3-D ocean creature was created at home. They hung in our room, suspended by string, throughout the rest of the unit. It wasn't easy to avoid the ceiling fans, which we need in Arizona, but it worked. Each child shared the information about his sea life with the rest of the class. The kids enjoyed bringing their parents in to point out each child's creature, including their own.
One area of the ocean we studied was the ocean reef. As we studied each animal, we added to a diorama each student was creating. When we finished, each child took home his or her own reef. We used items like sponge curlers, black clip-on rollers, play dough and rotini pasta. The bottom was covered with fine sandpaper. The walls were covered with blue plastic from a table cloth I bought at the Dollar Tree. I also bought bubble wrap at the post office-it was just the right shade of blue. The kids loved it. Assessment happened when I checked their dioramas and ask them questions about the life forms and functions of the reef. If you want more specific directions, I would be glad to write them. Here is one project in progress: