Free Ocean Learning Activities and Picture Book Ideas

Did you know there’s an Ocean Day every year? In an effort to raise awareness of the human impact on the oceans, Ocean Day was created! Aside from the humanitarian effort, students will have a great time celebrating this holiday, or simply getting to know more about the ocean, through ocean learning activities!

Inside the classroom, we like to focus on and highlight ocean animals. To understand the importance of keeping our oceans clear, students should also understand the animals that live there!

It’s the easiest way to make a connection between us and the ocean.

If you’re curious about how you can bring ocean animals into your classroom, I have four ocean learning activities for you. And the best part is you get to walk away with all of them to use in your classroom as FREEBIES!

You’ll also find book recommendations for each category, too.

[Disclaimer: Amazon affiliate links have been used in this post but I only share items I use and enjoy!]

Sea Turtle Booklet 

turtle research booklet

I don’t think I’ve met one kid who didn’t find sea turtles or turtles in general to be the cutest things. Their faces light up with delight any chance they encounter them.

So, I thought they would make the perfect sea creature to highlight for a fun research activity. I created this turtle booklet for students to jot down all of the highlights from their research.

sea turtle research for ocean learning activities

You could also use this booklet for retelling a story. Students can write their story summaries inside the booklet.

Here are a few turtle book suggestions you may like to pair with your sea turtle research or activities.

[Looking for a more robust set of turtle activities? We go in-depth in our Kindergarten Rooted in Reading series.]

Comparing Whales 

Any sea life lessons wouldn’t be complete without talking about whales. As one of the largest animals on the planet, students will be excited to get to know them a little better!

ocean learning activities featuring whales

One way to begin a whale study is by focusing on the two main types. This whale activity includes a short passage on toothed versus baleen whales. After reading the passage, students will complete a follow-up sorting activity.

With the sort, students will identify which whale facts belong to which whale type! This is an original freebie from my Rooted in Reading co-creator Katie King and I have included it in the download below!

Of course, your whale lesson wouldn’t be complete without a few good picture books.

Here are some suggestions for whale books that you can add to your classroom library. You can also check out my complete ocean book list for more ideas.

[If you’re looking for more ocean learning activities featuring whales, you can check out our Third Grade Rooted in Reading resource.]

Shark Science

shark science and research booklet

Sharks are always going to reign supreme in the study of ocean life with kids! I tend to use this theme year after year in lesson plans and activities, especially towards the Summer.

And if you’re anything like me, then you’ll definitely be excited to add this newest ocean activity, also created by Katie King, to your Shark-inspired classroom days – like Shark Week.

For this ocean activity, students will be researching science-based facts about sharks. Using a shark science booklet, they can detail sharks’ anatomy, how they use their sense of smell, how they see, etc. You can grab this FREE activity below.

Students should read engaging shark books to gather their facts. Here are a few ideas but you can also see a full list of books, including fictional shark stories, on my Amazon storefront.

[Looking for a complete Shark reading resource with lesson plans and reading activities? Check out Rooted in Reading: Sharks!]

Octopus Drawing and Writing

octopus ocean animal directed drawing

We certainly can’t forget to add octopus to the ocean life conversation. And not all ocean activities have to include researching aquatic animals.

A simple reading response activity, like a directed drawing and short writing, can be just as beneficial in getting students acquainted with the sea.

Students can follow along with a directed drawing of an octopus after reading a fun book about these camouflaging creatures or any other ocean books. The octopus drawing is a wonderful companion activity to include with your other ocean activities. 

After drawing their octopus, students can write a short summary of the read-aloud or whatever topic works best for your classroom. You will find this FREE activity in the download below.

Here are a couple of book suggestions, but you can find more on my ocean book list.

[Looking for additional Octopus activities? We have them inside our First Grade Rooted in Reading resource.]

Grab Your FREE Ocean Learning Activities!

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Hi, I'm Amy

Hey, y’all! My name is Amy Lemons and I am passionate about providing students with both engaging and effective standards-based Math and ELA lessons.


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