Coral Reef activities and learning about the ocean are fascinating topics for children of all ages. Aquarium visits, trips to the lake, and of course movies like Finding Nemo are staples for those of us with children. Giving our children learning opportunities to focus on topics they love will foster long-term desire to learn about the world around them.

That has been my experience as a mom, teacher, and homeschool teacher.

When I teach learning units that directly plug into the topics my children love, that fosters their love for learning. Makes teaching and learning so much more enjoyable whether your children are homeschooled or you just want to enrich your time together on family outings.

This collection of coral reef activities includes hands-on activities for exploring coral reefs and ocean life. There are learning resources for toddlers, preschoolers and school age kids.

Teaching my children science units like this in a whole-group setting was a practical way to share knowledge and keep our homeschool balanced. There is a very special book I am featuring in this collection of learning resources too! You will definitely want to read more about it.


Learning about the Ocean with Coral Reef Activities


Great Carrier Reef

Great Carrier Reef is the book that inspired this thematic collection of activities for learning about the ocean. Coral reef activities are a prime focus. Their colors and creatures are so fun and fascinating for kids.

What is special about the book Great Carrier Reef?

1) It is written in a way that appeals to young children and school age children. It is a book your children will read years down the road. It teaches big history and science concepts in a way that appeals to many ages.

2) The illustrations are captivating. Children will feel immersed in the sea life pictured as they learn about the science behind reefs and their importance. Add these shark notebooking printables to enhance the learning.

3) The book not only teaches about ocean life, but also about history. My husband was eager to read this to the kids because the book was interesting to him too. Yay for dads doing storytime!

4) The author of Great Carrier Reef, Jessica Stremer, has been a contributor to the blog in the past. You have probably read her articles before and now you can read her book with your children! She and I have been friends for almost 20 years. She is a military wife and science-lover who channels her background in biology to teach children big concepts within this beautiful package of Great Carrier Reef.

Grab the book on Amazon, or Barnes and Noble to use as the foundation of this Coral Reef Learning Unit.


Video explanation of coral reefs for kids

We love using YouTube for educational videos. I pull up videos from Learning Bright often when we are teaching a science concept at home. After reading Great Carrier Reef, watch this video to expand on the science of coral reefs, and give kids a visual example of what reefs look like.


Visit A Local Aquarium or Zoo

A field trip to see the topics we are studying first-hand is always worth it. So much learning comes from seeing the animals and ocean life up close. Here in Eastern North Carolina, we have a few aquariums to explore. SeaQuest is another aquarium that may be in your area. Otherwise, head to your local zoo and wander around the sea life for a bit.


$5 Ocean Sensory Bin

Simple sensory bins are a favorite in my house. We love simple sensory bins for infants, simple kitchen sensory bins and this one that I created with an ocean theme.

Read about this ocean sensory bin and how we put it together for only $5. Children will love to play pretend in their coral reef sensory bin.


DIY Coral Reef Sensory Bin with Pasta

This DIY coral reef sensory bin with pasta is really creative! The video tutorial helps you put this together easily using pasta and a hot glue gun. The kids will have so much fun exploring this with little fish toys.

Try our pasta and playdough sensory activity to mold some coral reefs too!


Light Up Reef Craft

Hands-on crafts are effective projects for helping concepts become tangible for kids. That helps the information stick in their brains. I love this light up reef craft because it can be done by little ones with help from you, or older kids as a diorama display. This activity is great for story retelling or an oral quiz of basic coral reef facts.


Mom and son with hands outstretch standing near the ocean.

Coral Reef Lesson Plans for School Age Kids

For older kids, the NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) has a large collection of lesson plans for studying about the ocean. There are a few that will work for elementary children and even more for middle school and older kids.


Hands-On Learning Activities for Learning About Reefs and Oceans

These hands-on ocean activities are grouped by activity type. There are crafts, sensory activities, etc. It is a great collection to pull ideas from for your coral reef activities.


Teacher-Made Coral Reef Learning Activities

Don’t forget about Teacher Pay Teachers. This is a homeschool resource you have got to check out. When teaching about a specific unit, grab some supplemental materials from Teachers Pay Teachers.

Teachers share their learning activities and even whole units that you can buy for home use. I have purchased units from the site a few times when my children have wanted to learn about specific animals. It is handy when we want to create learning units focused on chapter book we read.

The Coral Reef activities will give you more activity ideas to round out your learning unit on oceans and reefs.


Learning About the Oceans and Coral Reefs for Kids

Children’s books have a special way of drawing children into learning, teaching them to focus, and making it all seem like fun. Great Carrier Reef is that kind of book. Big concepts are explained in ways that even young children will absorb.

This book is a wonderful starting point for introducing coral reefs and learning about the ocean. It is one of our favorite books that have inspired a homeschool learning unit. I know you will enjoy using it with your children, too.

Mom and son standing near the ocean text reads homeschool unit coral reefs and ocean life.

What are your favorite topics to explore with the kids? Any great books that have taught big concepts in helpful ways?