KELP - Sailors for the Sea

KELP

Kids Environmental Lesson Plans 

KELP are free, downloadable marine science activities that encourage curiosity in kids and help them explore their surroundings. With simple materials and minimal preparation, these dynamic lesson plans address important ocean health issues including plastic pollution, overfishing and climate change.

After completing your chosen activities, celebrate your Ocean Explorers with our downloadable KELP certificate! And don’t forget to visit our store where you can find some fun KELP gear and even adopt Otto the Otter.

KELP Activity Spotlight

Join the thousands of organizations and families across the globe who have inspired children to learn the importance of preserving healthy and abundant oceans through Sailors for the Sea Powered by Oceana’s KELP program.

Aquatic Animals

Ages 6 to 9

Build Otto the Sea Otter

Students will create a sea otter puppet and act out how this species is essential to kelp forest habitats.

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Ages 9 and up

Hitching a Ride

Students will mimic how boats can quickly spread invasive species to new bodies of water and how to stop a new invasion. 

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

All Ages

Become a Naturalist

Students will explore their outdoor surroundings to discover and learn about local flora and fauna. 

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Ages 6 to 12

How Long am I?

With just a simple rope, students can gain perspecitive on how big some of our ocean’s largest animals are. 

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Ages 6 to 9

Hermit Crab Game

Through musical chairs, learn about hermit crabs and the challenges they face when they need to find a new shell home.

All Ages

The World is YOUR Oyster

Students will learn about the importance of oysters to estuarine ecosystems and to the community. 

Contributed By: Tabor Academy

All Ages

Sinking Races

Students create various types of plankton with craft materials and race them in a large container of water. Slowest plankton wins!

Contributed By: SEA Semester

All Ages

Coral Reef Snow Globe

Students build a globe to demonstrate a mass coral spawning event.

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

All Ages

Build a Coral Polyp

Learn about the anatomy of coral and the symbiotic relationship between corals and zooxanthellae by building an edible coral polyp.

Ages 12 and up

Clam Jigsaw

Students create a cutout model of a clam to investigate the anatomy and physiology of these animals.

Ages 9 to 12

What’s Hiding in the Water?

Students learn what plankton are living in their local marine or freshwater habitats by building plankton nets.

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Beaches, Bays & Rivers

All Ages

Explore the Shore

Create a shoreline scavenger hunt utilizing local identification books for shells, seaweed, birds and other coastal things.

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

All Ages

Beach Bingo

Kids will discover their natural surroundings by playing an interactive game of bingo with items that can be found at your beach or shoreline

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Ages 6 to 12

Coastal Matching

Learn about what is found in your coastal environment with this fun matching game.

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Ages 6 to 12

Beach Sculptures

Using materials and sand found on the beach, kids can create pieces of art

Ages 9 to 12

Beach in a Pan

Students construct a beach in a pan and investigate the effects of wind and waves on beach shape

Contributed By: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Ages 12 and up

Rock Cycle Roundabout

A fun board game designed to learn the three ways rocks can form.

Ages 9 and up

Cloudy Waters

Students create a simple scientific instrument and learn about the role of sediment in their local waters.

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Ages 12 and up

Density Currents

This activity demonstrates Thermohaline Circulation throughout our oceans and the relative densities of cold and warm waters.

Contributed By: University of Miami

Ages 9 to 12

A Story of Sand

A hands on activity that illustrates the different sources of sand including biological, geological and man-made.

Contributed By: Birch Aquarium

Ages 9 to 12

Dirty Water Challenge

Students learn about the water cycle and the principles of filtering water by building and testing their own filters.

Contributed By: New England Aquarium

Ages 9 to 12

Estuary Salt Front

Students create mini-coastal environments and introduce nutrients to see what happens in the estuaries where fresh and salt water meet.

All Ages

Beach Bucket Scavenger Hunt

A fun scavenger hunt that gives students understanding of what can be found on beaches, beach ecology and the role of manmade objects.

Contributed By: Birch Aquarium

Catching Fish

Ages 9 and up

Sustainable Matching Game

A simple matching game for visually identifying fish and gaining an understanding of which can be sustainably harvested.

Ages 6 to 9

Hooked on Conservation

A creative game that shows the effects of longline fishing on the health of the ocean ecosystem.

Contributed By: The Pew Environment Group

All Ages

The Deadliest Catch

Using candy, students mimic the effects of advanced fishing methods on the population sizes of fish.

Contributed By: The Pew Environment Group

Chemistry of the Sea

Ages 6 to 12

Salty Ocean

Students will learn why the ocean is salty and visualize why it’s easier to float in seawater than in freshwater.

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Ages 12 and up

Acidic Ocean

Students use thier own exhaled breath and a red cabbage pH indicator to visualize how our oceans are becoming more acidic. 

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Ages 9 to 12

Osteoporosis of the Sea

An interactive activity demonstrating the effects of ocean acidification on shelled marine organisms, the ocean food web and to humans.

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Climate Change

Ages 12 and up

Sea Level Rise

Which type of ice causes a rise in sea level when it melts: formations on land, like glaciers, or formations in the water, like icebergs?

Ages 9 to 12

Seasonality in the Ocean

Students figure out what season it is based on maps of sea surface temperature and phytoplankton growth. 

Contributed By: Rutgers University

Ages 12 and up

Carbon Cycle Game

Students cycle as carbon between the living and nonliving parts of the ecosystem.

Contributed By: Rutgers University

Food Chains

All Ages

Ooey Gooey Animal Guts

Students identify what kind of consumer their marine animal is by examining the prey items they find in a Jell-O filled “stomach”.

Contributed By: Monterey Bay Aquarium

All Ages

Whale Food Chain Game

A game of Jenga that demonstrates our impact on a baleen whale’s food chain.

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Living Underwater

All Ages

Seeing with Sound

With a slinky, discover how dolphins and whales use echolocation to navigate and find food. 

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

All Ages

Hold Your Breath

Discover one of the ways marine mammals are able to hold their breath for long dives underwater.

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Ages 6 to 12

A Shark’s Sixth Sense

Using magnets, kids can mimic how sharks use a unique sensory system to locate their prey. 

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Ages 9 and up

Symbiosis

In this fun matching game, kids will learn about the symbiotic relationship between different marine creatures.

Contributed By: NAMEPA

Ages 6 to 9

Whale of a View

With small mirrors and a paper towel tube, students build monoculars to view their surroundings from the perspective of a whale.

Ages 6 to 9

Whale Feeding

An activity that demonstrates how baleen whales, such as Right Whales, use skim feeding to capture their prey.

Ages 6 to 9

Whale Blubber

Students create a “blubber glove” to mimic the importance of blubber to whales living in frigid water.

All Ages

How to Hide in the Ocean

A fun game teaching students how fish and other ocean creatures camouflage into their surroundings.

Contributed By: SEA Semester

Ages 9 to 12

Drying Out on the Rocky Shore

A hands on activity that illustrates how marine creatures have adapted to survive the extreme conditions between the rocky shoreline tide marks

Contributed By: SEA Semester

All Ages

All that Glitters

An activity that plays with light at different depths of the ocean and discusses adaptations organisms have made for different light conditions.

Contributed By: University of Miami

Ocean Fun Packs

All Ages

Polar Regions

Learn about our polar regions’ unique habitat and wildlife through crossword puzzles, word searches and other fun activities. 

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

All Ages

Coral Reefs

Through word searches, matching and other fun games learn about these bustling cities of marine life and how to protect them. 

Contributed By: Sailors for the Sea

Pollution & Marine Debris

Ages 9 and up

Oil Spill Cleanup