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Lesson Plans
Amazing Ocean Animals
3rd–5th Grade
Objectives Objectives
  • Students will understand and explain how blubber helps a sea mammal adapt to cold temperatures in the ocean.
  • Students will identify the mammals in a variety of ocean animals.
Materials Materials Needed
  • Ocean Animal Picture Cards
  • Thin rubber gloves (one per student)
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Bowls of cold water
  • Soap and water
  • Pencils and paper
  • Scissors
Before You Begin

Download, print and cut apart the set of Ocean Animal Picture Cards.

Introduction Introduction
  1. Hold up each ocean animal picture card, asking students to guess which animals are mammals (the whale, dolphin and walrus).
  2. Explain that whales, dolphins and walrus are not fish, but mammals that have adapted to live in the ocean.
  3. Tell students that mammals are warm-blooded and that their body temperatures must remain constant, even in the cold ocean environment. Explain that one important adaptation of ocean mammals is the blubber, or thick layer of fat, that these animals have beneath their skin.

Procedure Procedure

  1. Explain to students that they will conduct an experiment to demonstrate how blubber helps keep ocean mammals warm.
  2. Divide the class into small groups and give each group a bowl of cold water.
  3. Have students put on a rubber glove and take turns placing their gloved hands in the cold water for 20–30 seconds.
  4. Ask students to discuss how their hand feels in the water. Is it cold or warm? Does it feel colder the longer it stays in the water?
  5. Have each student repeat the demonstration. This time, have students coat their hands in a thick layer of vegetable shortening before putting the gloves on. (The vegetable shortening will simulate a layer of blubber.)
  6. Invite students to compare how the cold water feels to the hand coated in shortening and the hand without it. (Most students will find that the hand that is “insulated” with shortening stays warmer than the other hand.)
  7. Have students wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Guided Practice Independent Practice
  1. Have students draw a picture illustrating the steps of this experiment.
  2. Invite students to explain what they think the experiment demonstrates about the blubber on a sea mammal and what function this blubber serves.


the 3rd–5th Grade lesson plan. (Includes all printable materials.)
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