A program of the Lawrence Hall of Science that seeks to increase ocean literacy through informal and formal education initiatives
Marine Activities, Resources & Education

Curriculum Description

Islands are often important resting and breeding places for birds and pinnipeds. Sharks, elephant seals, evolution, adaptation, and geology are just some of the topics to be explored using the Islands curriculum.

Download a session-by-session timeframe for teaching Islands

Activity 1: Sands of Time 3 Sessions

During a "Thought Swap" about sand, students start thinking about what it is made of, and how it got to the beach. Then they investigate and compare sand samples from six different locations. Students conduct a series of investigations to help them piece together the evolutionary story of their sand. Finally, they meet in "expert" groups with students who have the same sand sample to organize a story about the origins of their sample. Students discover that the size, color, shape, and makeup of sand grains are clues about its origin and evolution.

Activity 2: Mirounga Mirounga 2 Sessions

Students begin by watching a silent slideshow and brainstorming about Elephant Seals. As they re-watch the slides with narration, they take new notes and organize their observations. Students then work cooperatively in groups to teach each other about parts of the Elephant Seal life cycle and adaptations to contend with both marine and terrestrial environments. Students participate in a lively "game show" to check for understanding.

Activity 3: Shark Encounter! 3 Sessions

Students simulate field research by working in small teams to collect and analyze data on local populations of shark species that may be threatened. Students will discuss and evaluate methods for estimating a shark population. They will convert raw data into a usable format, and try to generate meaningful statements about what appears to be happening to the local shark population.

Activity 4: Island Rock 2 Sessions

Students try to glean clues about the natural history of a seabird from the song "Island Rock." They have the opportunity to become an "expert" on a particular seabird. They write new lyrics to the song, incorporating as much natural history and information about their bird as possible. Students discover that seabirds rely heavily on islands for breeding and have many special adaptations that help them survive in the ocean.

Activity 5: Build an Island 3 Sessions

This activity teaches students about six different islands where seabirds nest. Students collaborate to determine what would make an ideal island home and rookery for a seabird. Students create group presentations to "convince a seabird" to use their island for nesting. They work with their island group to research organisms living on or around their island. As they work together to build an island habitat, they discover elements that make an island a successful breeding habitat. They also discover the diversity of habitats that is possible on an island, and how islands are inhabited by special animals that have evolved in isolation over millions of years.

Order Now, Grade 6 Islands

Islands Teacher Guides may be ordered at our online store or directly from MARE.