Each year on June 8th, we observe World Oceans Day to draw attention to how important our planet’s seas and oceans are to life and livelihoods. Did you know, for example, that the up to 50% of our oxygen comes from the ocean? And if you thought rainforests were the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, think again – it’s actually our oceans, which makes sense since they cover 70% of the Earth’s surface.
So this World Oceans Day, help your students understand just how important it is to protect it, sustainably use its resources, and how we can benefit from learning more about it. So put on a blue shirt and forge ahead with these ten fun ways to celebrate World Oceans Day with your class or family.
1. Skipper Your Crew to a World Oceans Day Event
Check out World Ocean Day’s website to find out what events are going on in your area. You can also list your own events and learn more about youth initiatives. From art contests to film festivals to hands-on exhibits, there are ocean activities taking place around the world and students can discover a whole community of passionate youth working to protect our oceans for future generations.
2. “Fish are Friends, Not Food”
Who doesn’t love battered or crumbed fish, juicy mussels, moreish shrimp, and the versatility of tuna? Did you know that the oceans are the main source of protein for a billion people around the world? That puts enormous pressure on fish stocks, the majority of which are overfished and in their populations in decline.
While this can all sound pretty depressing, you can teach students how to make informed decisions as consumers and teach their families how to be ocean warriors using their wallets at stores and restaurants. Discover which fish are the most eco-friendly to buy and consume. You can then do this worksheet on ocean zones so students know where the fish they buy is coming from.
3. Say No to Plastic
Plastics are one of the biggest threats to ocean health and one of the easiest things to change from a lifestyle perspective. Each year, trillions of pieces of plastic enter the world’s river systems and water ways and end up in the oceans. They slowly gather into gyres, some of which are bigger than the state of Texas.
Plastics in the oceans aren’t just a hazard to its inhabitants that eat it or get tangled up in it, but they break down into micro-plastics which then enter the food chain and we humans end up eating!
This year, teach your students about the impact of single-use plastics, like drinking straws and packaging, and the importance of recycling and responsibly disposing plastic. When done, you can then organize a beach clean up. If the ocean is too far away from you, remember, plastics can travel for hundreds of miles before entering the oceans, so even a plastic clean-up along rivers, streams, or your community will benefit the oceans.
4. Ocean Explorers
It’s much easier to protect something when you’ve got a connection to it. Google has an amazing feature called Google Ocean in which you can explore the vast waters much like street view has changed the way we explore areas of land. Discover images, locations, and other media with this this stunning collection.
If you’re able to, set your bearings to your local aquarium. Students of all ages will enjoy viewing and interacting with the amazing variety of sea life on display.
5. Where the Currents Go
The currents of the world play a huge role in the kinds of ecosystems and animals that are found in a region. First, teach your students about currents and use our Currents worksheet to reinforce their understanding. Then, for some extra fun and impactful awareness, take a look at Adrift.org. This amazing interactive website shows just how far plastics can travel in the ocean, and drives home the lesson that one’s mindless actions at home can have a big impact on others around the world. Challenge your students to predict the path of pollution before seeing where it actually lands up.
6. Sail Over to the Smithsonian
We love the Smithsonian and the wealth of information available for students and teachers. This World Oceans Day, check out its diverse collection of ocean-related lesson plans for educators. From the impact of oil spills, to light penetration, and marine environments, to name just some, there’s something for all subjects and all grades from K-12.
7. Dive into an Ocean-themed Reading Adventure
For landlubbers who can’t venture out to sea, dive into an ocean-themed book for a reading adventure worthy of the high seas. Get started with one of these nautical tales.
Nautical Novels and Seaworthy Stories
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Flotsam by David Wiesner
Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater (Worksheet)
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (Worksheet)
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Billy Budd by Herman Melville
The Pearl by John Steinbeck (Worksheet)
Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
The Odyssey by Homer (Worksheet)
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
8. Action Starts with Awareness
Ahoy! Teachers, students, and families can join an Ocean Guardian Program and plan a school or community conservation project, submit ocean-themed artwork, stories, or poetry, and even become involved in diving!
9. A Good Day for the Beach
Head to the beach! What better way to celebrate World Oceans Day then by digging in the sand, discovering tide pools, and surfing the waves? It’s a perfect opportunity for students to explore the environment while also teaching them the importance of not interferring with the local ecosystem by removing shells, catching small creatures, or turning over rocks.
10. There’s No Place Like Home
Movies like Finding Nemo are often box-office hits and seen by millions of people around the world. Unfortunately, while creating awareness, it can also increase the demand for the creatures featured in the films. Without careful research, would-be hobbyists can end up fuelling the illegal capture and trade of wildlife or products such as shells and coral, or worse yet, killing creatures through lack of knowledge.
Marine creatures belong in their natural environment and should only be kept by experts. Rather than buy marine creatures for enjoyment at home, visit a local aquarium that’s contributing to research and protection.
Lessons and Resources
If you are swamped with lesson planning, check out Help Teaching’s collection of pre-made, ocean-themed worksheets. Or, have your students try our online lessons on Ocean Vocabulary Words, Ocean Zones, Tsunamis, or Tides. Our friends over at Kidskonnect.com has a large collection of facts and worksheets for kids about Oceans too!
Have other suggestions for celebrating World Oceans Day with students and children? Share them in the comments! Read The Ultimate Guide to Teaching Science for more ways to invigorate your science curriculum and teaching.
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