Ocean Animal Research and Habitat Building - Preschool Style

Ocean research for preschooler & pre-k! Yes they can write, draw, and create about their favorite ocean animal too (perfect for an ocean theme)

Our last theme of the year is Ocean!  I try to save it for the end of the year because it is always keeps students excited about learning until the last day of school!  The pretend center has changed into an aquarium and we needed ocean animal exhibits for our aquarium.  What to do?  What to do?  Let's have the kids research and make the exhibits for our aquarium!

Building habitats is one of my favorite activities to do hands down!  The kids LOVE it and learn so much from it.  Just look at this amazing clown fish exhibit a group of students created! Love it!
To start, the first thing I did was decide what animals and how many animals to research.  I picked ocean animals I knew my students we interested.  They are loving and talking about seahorses, sharks, clown fish, stingrays, dolphins, and crabs.  To set up this activity, I had each a basket of books on their ocean animal for each group and paper (to create the habitats on) around the room. In the middle ,I had art supplies they could use.  If you don't like building habitats on paper, you can build your habitats in boxes.  
When the students came inside from recess, I did a quick 5 minute mini lesson modeling how to the research.  Then I announced what animals they could pick to research.  They were jumping out of their seats with excitement!  I know what you are thinking. Yes I let students pick what animal they wanted to research and no I'm not crazy.  By letting them pick their animal, students were invested and interested in their animal they were researching.
Each group had two or three books to use.  The conversations the kids had about their animals were so spot on.  They all stayed on task and had a ton of fun.  
Here are some of their research pages.  My preschool class has a mix of three, four, and five year olds.
It is so neat to see how far they have some this school year.  There is no way I could have done this activity at the beginning of the year with the whole class.  Each student has grown into this little scientist!
Each group worked at their own pace.  One they finished their research page they could start their habitat!  I put out tissue paper, construction paper, ribbon, create paper, glue and scissors for students to use.
Take a look at the dolphin group.  Do you see they small space they have.  Students are building a ton of social skills during this project!  They have to share space and supplies.  They have to problem solve with peers, use language to communicate their thinking, and be flexible! 
 This is the stingray group.  The are using a plastic tub because they are working on the touch tank for the aquarium.
 This is the crab group.  I love how they are referencing their books as they are making the habitat!
On day two, I set out each groups research, books, and habitats.  Students had to review their research to help them remember about their animals' habitat and then they could get back to creating!  By creating the habitats, students had to use the knowledge they learned and make it come to life.  Incorporating art allows students to be creative!
Check out these amazing habitats! I am one proud teacher.  
I know you are curious about how I changed the dramatic play center into an aquarium using their habitats. Read my post all about it HERE.


  1. Oh my, these are the best!!! Great job kiddos!!

  2. I LOVE the new look of your blog! All the sparkles and rainbow colors are so great! And WOW, your kiddos worked so hard on those amazing research reports! I love how they use stretch spelling to write down the sounds they hear! You should be super proud, they did awesome!

    1. Thanks so much! I am a very proud teacher. It is so neat to see how far they have come this year. They are such a great group. I will miss them next year.


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