KELP Activity of the Day

Sailors for the Sea Powered by Oceana’s Kids Environmental Lesson Plans (KELP) program features free, downloadable, educational activities that teach students the importance of preserving healthy and abundant oceans. With many schools closed and students confined to home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sailors for the Sea is highlighting some of our most popular KELP activities that can be done from the safety of your home.

Drying Out on the Rocky Shore

Life is challenging between the tide marks on the rocky shore. Crashing waves, drying sun, varying salt concentrations and changing tides set the conditions for life along the shores. Through this hands-on activity learn how marine animals have adapted to survived the extreme conditions between the tide marks on a rocky shore.

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Whale Blubber

How do whales, which are warm-blooded mammals, survive in ice-cold ocean waters? By wearing a thick layer of fat, called blubber just beneath the skin. In this activity, kids will create a “blubber glove” to mimic the importance of blubber to whales living in frigid waters.

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Dirty Water Challenge

Learn about the water cycle and the principles of filtering water by designing and building water filters using different materials. Kids can pretend to be scientists by testing their filters with "dirty water".

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Estuaries, Densities and Eutrophication

An estuary is a partially enclosed body of water where freshwater through rivers meet saltwater from the open sea. Estuaries are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world providing food and habitat for many different types of animals. Kids will create these mini-coastal environments to learn the difference between freshwater and saltwater, and discover what happens when too many nutrients are introduced into an estuary.

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Acidic Ocean

Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide can cause changes in the chemistry of the ocean. The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the carbon dioxide humans release into the atmosphere every year, and this additional carbon dioxide in seawater is causing the ocean to become more acidic. In this fun, science activity, kids can use their own exhaled breath and a red cabbage pH indicator to visualize how our oceans are becoming more acidic.

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Marine Osteoporosis

In this interactive activity, kids will explore the effects of acidic oceans on shelled marine animals, the ocean food web, and to humans. Kids will conduct a science experiment how increased acidity through testing tap water, carbonated water and vinegar can impact shells.

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Beach Contamination

It can be difficult to clean up a contaminated environment. In this activity, kids are challenged to find and remove a baking soda contaminant from a container filled with damp sand while having the least impact on the “environment.”

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Salty Ocean

About 97 percent of all water on and in the Earth is salty. Discover why the ocean is salty, and why it’s easier to float on seawater with the KELP activity Salty Ocean. All you need are glass jars, salt, food coloring, water and index cards.

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Beach Bingo

Do you want to help kids discover their natural surroundings? Play an interactive game of bingo with objects that can be found at you beach or shoreline. All you need to do is build a bingo board with different items such as a variety of shells, crab claw, feather or even manmade things like rope or plastic.

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Shower Curtain Watershed

No matter where people live, they are in a watershed! A watershed is an area where rain, snow and other water flows from the land into a common waterway. The outer boundaries of a watershed are determined by the tallest landmasses in the areas, such as mountains. With a shower curtain and spray bottle, kids can create their own watershed and learn about potential sources of pollution.

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Hermit Crab Game

A hermit crab is a type of crab that lives inside a shell for protection. As hermit crabs grow, they require larger shells. However, intact, “well-fitting” shells can be challenging to find. In this “musical chairs”-like game, kids will discover the challenges hermit crabs face when searching for a new shell home.

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Coral Spawning Globe

In some areas of the world, mass coral spawning events occur on one particular night a year which is tied to seasonally warming waters and the lunar cycle. During the spawning event, corals release their sperm and egg bundles into the water in large quantities, creating an underwater “snowstorm.” With craft materials and items found around the house, kids can build a “snow” globe to demonstrate a mass coral spawning event.

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How Long Am I?

Many of the Earth’s largest-sized animals are found in the ocean. In fact, the largest animal known to have ever lived is the blue whale. With just a simple rope, kids can gain perspective on how big some of our ocean's largest animals are, including the blue whale, giant squid, great white shark and leatherback turtle.

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Coastal Matching

Coastal ecosystems are areas where land and water join to create a distinct environment that includes salt marshes, mangroves, wetlands, estuaries and bays. These areas are home to many different types of plants and animals. Unfortunately, humans pose a threat to these environments and their inhabitants through some of our actions such as plastic pollution, oil spills and nutrient pollution. This fun matching games allows kids to learn more about a coastal ecosystem and the impacts humans have on this environment.

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Clam Jigsaw

Clams are found in shallow, fresh and saltwater environments around the world. They are a bivalve mollusks, or an animal with two shells. Kids can create and color a cutout model of a clam to learn about the anatomy of these animals and how they are well-suited for living in the ocean.

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How Long Till It's Gone?

Have you ever wondered what happens to the trash you find in the environment? In this eye-opening activity, kids discover how long it takes for different materials to degrade by putting items (i.e. orange peel, plastic straw) along a timeline, and what those items eventually turn into.

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Sinking Races

Ocean’s plankton, tiny animals and plants, are the basis of marine food chains. Plankton have adaptations that help them float in the water column. If you have a lot of craft supplies and a large clear container of water, this is the perfect indoor activity for kids. With different materials, kids will build different plankton and race them in the water. Slowest plankton wins!

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Whale Jenga Food Web Game

Do you have a Jenga set that you are willing to paint? In this modified version of the game, the blocks are colored to represent different parts of the food chain (phytoplankton, zooplankton, krill and small fish, and baleen whales). Kids remove or put back blocks based on information they read on the cards and can see how humans have a negative or positive impact on the whale’s food chain.

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Ooey Gooey Animal Guts

Ever wonder what an octopus eats or what the favorite food of an ocean sunfish is? Scientists will sometimes dissect marine animals’ stomachs to determine their diet. In this activity, kids can identify what kind of consumer their marine animal is by examining the prey items the find in a gelatin-filled “stomach”.

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Build a Coral Polyp

Corals are living marine animals, which typically live in compact colonies of many identical individual polyps. With different food items found at home, kids will learn about the anatomy of a coral and the unique symbiotic relationship between corals and zooxanthellae by building an edible coral polyp.

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Whale of a View

Our eyes are found in front of our head. We have binocular vision, in which both eyes see one view. However, whales have eyes on the sides of their head, and each eye sees a separate view, which is called monocular vision. With a paper towel tube, two small mirrors and tape, kids can build monoculars to view surroundings from the perspective of a whale.

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All that Glitters

Ever wonder how deep-sea animals deal with living in the dark? Kids will make Deep Sea Diving Goggles to discover what happens to light as it passes through the ocean and then discuss adaptations animals have made to live in different light conditions.

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Whale Feeding

Baleen whales are the largest animals on earth, yet they eat some of the smallest animals in the ocean. Baleen are the long plates that hang in a row, like teeth of a comb, from a whale’s upper jaw. Baleen whales strain water through their baleen plates to capture food. This activity demonstrates how certain baleen whales, such as right whales and bowheads, use skim feeding to capture their prey.

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How to Hide in the Ocean

Many ocean animals have the ability to camouflage themselves to blend in with their surroundings. Camouflage can help animals remain undetected by predators and can also help animals sneak up on prey. Kids can create fish and other ocean creatures out of simple materials, and test how well they camouflage into their surroundings.

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Deadliest Catch

Certain gear types are more efficient at catching fish which can result in a quicker decline in fish stocks. Using candy or other small snacks, kids can mimic the effects of different types of advanced fishing methods on population sizes of fish.

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Click here to download all of the KELP marine science activities.