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Lesson Plan

Beach Exploration and Studies

A series of activities to explore the life, rocks and water on a beach, either rocky, sandy, or a mix. See animals and seaweed in their natural habitat.
Science content (2016 curriculum): 
Biology: Features, Adaptations of Living Things (K, 1, 3, 7)
Biology: Life Cycles (2)
Biology: Food Webs, Ecosystems, Biomes (3, 4)
Earth/Space: Landforms, Erosion (3)
Earth/Space: Rock cycle, Earth Materials, Natural resources (5)
Curriculum connection (2005 science topic): 
Life Science: Characteristics of Living Things (grade K)
Life Science: Needs of Living Things (grade 1)
Life Science: Animal Growth and Changes (grade 2)

Several ways to run this lesson:

Stations to study different aspects of the beach more closely
What is sand made of is close observation of sand to discover it’s components, and learn how it got there.
Seaweed is experimenting to discover the function of different parts of rockweed.
Barnacles and mussels is to observe live mussels and barnacles on rocks; compare the anatomy of mussels and clams.
Baby shells is to observe baby marine snails in an egg case; hunt for other shells of different sizes.

Start or end with a large group activity of Beach Life Bingo: bingo game with beach life, both living and washed up.

Sandy beach focus
Look out at the sand and mud flats of a sandy beach.
Weathering rocks and Sand/mud study to show how a sandy beach is made.
Ask students to look around the sandy beach for life for signs of life. Prompt discussion to find at least beach grasses, birds and clam shells.
Collect clam shells and identify species. Dig for live clams if possible. Clam dissection.
Discuss what animals eat the clams, and how a food chain of living things has adapted to the sand and mud beach environment. Look for birds on the mud flats.
Worksheets attached for Iona Beach.

Rocky Beach focus
Rocky beaches are rich with life. Start with Finding life in a small square of ground for students to discover the wide array of living things.
Follow with Seaweed study and looking more closely at shelled animals.
Worksheet attached for Whytecliff Park.

List of challenges for students to work through
Students can be given a series of challenges (see attachment for an example), that encourages closer looks at beach life and rocks.
Give students equipment as they need it (magnifiers, bowls or tubs, pH test kit).


Weir (at Jericho): Barnacles and Mussels, Seaweed Study, Baby Shells and Sand Study, followed by Beach Bingo.
McBride: Barnacles and Mussels, Seaweed Study, followed by Beach Bingo
Sexsmith visited a Sandy (Iona Beach) then a Rocky (Whytecliff Park) Beach, comparing the two. Rock weathering, Sand/Mud study, Clam dissection at Sandy Beach. Life in a Square of ground and Seaweed study at (rainy) rocky beach.
Simon Fraser (2nd Beach) grade 1/2 just did seaweed study and sand study.
isas Spring 2017:

Grades tested: 
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Carole Murray
Christy Wong
Diane Merchant
Julie Kawaguchi
Kecia Boecking
Mari Matsuo
Monika Pilat
Site tested: 
ingridscience afterschool
McBride Elementary
Sexsmith Elementary
Simon Fraser Elementary
Weir Elementary
Lesson plan originally developed and delivered: 

Scientist in Residence Program, Vancouver School District. Discovering Life in Local Habitats.