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Another biome study in the books!

For science this school year we have been studying the different biomes, habitats, and animals for the different countries we are learning about in Around the World with Picture Books. So far, we have studied the mountain/alpine biome, deserts, and polar biomes. Read about all the fun activities and books we read at these posts:

Mountain/Alpine Biome Unit Study

Desert Biome Unit Study

Polar Biome Unit Study (toward the bottom of this post.)

Rainforest Biome Unit Study (end of this post)

We recently studied the country of Australia, so learned more about the Great Barrier Reef, and coral reef biome. As we learned about this biome, we specifically explored coral and sea turtles.


There are so many great books, and videos, out there about the ocean, coral reefs, and the Great Barrier Reef. These were some of the books we read. Coral Reefs by Gail Gibbons was FULL of great information. My kids also really enjoyed Here is the Coral Reef by Madelene Dunphy and The Brilliant Deep by Kate Messner. Many of these books share so much about different fish and animals in the coral reef, that we learned a lot just by reading.

Ocean: Visual Encyclopedia by DK Smithsonian is a great book to have on your homeschool shelf to reference anytime. It has beautiful visuals and lots of information on lots of different things about the ocean. We referenced it mostly when we learned about sea turtles, but it had a lot on coral reefs too.

Where is the Great Barrier Reef by Nico Medina is a great read aloud for the unit too.

Unit Study Packs:

Going into this study, we just got back from a week and a half long vacation, so I was tired and didn’t have a lot of time to plan extra activities. I purchased these 2 small unit study packs from Stephanie Hathaway Designs, and they were extremely helpful in helping me plan out our days and what to teach my kids on this topic. My kids loved all her printables and especially the memory/matching games. Any printable you see in any of these photos are from either of these packs.

Coral Reef Unit Study

Sea Turtle Unit Study

She has a few other studies you can add to this unit if you wanted, like all about sharks, beaches, and waves. Check out her website HERE.

Hands-on Experiments:

For coral, we began by learning about what they are and reading about some of the different types. My kids learned a lot of the different kinds with the matching game from Stephanie’s unit study pack. I took a bunch of sponges and drew different types of coral on each one with a black marker and cut them out. They used these sponges to dip into paint and stamp in their notebooks. Don’t have them push down on the sponge to hard or get too much paint, as the sponge gives it the bubble/airy affect that many coral have and it looks really cool. After their coral dried, I had them try to identify what coral it looked like and label it on their page.

We also did this fun Crystal Garden Kit from National Geographic because they look like coral when they are grown. This is a great simple activity that can be completed within a day. I accidently knocked over the second tree before I got to take a picture, but it worked and looked really cool! My kids really enjoyed watching these grow.


We stamped our sponge coral in our notebooks and labeled them, but we also learned about the anatomy of a coral polyp with the pages in the unit study pack and added it to our notebook. There are also great handwriting pages with the definition of what coral is that we added to our notebooks as well.

Sea Turtles:

On our vacation in Hawaii, we were fortunate enough to see live sea turtles in the wild on the beach. This sparked interest for my daughter to learn more about them, so I added it to this biome unit study. After Australia, we are studying the country of Brazil, so learning about sea turtles and coral reefs was a great segway.

We read some great picture books and watched a lot of videos on YouTube. My daughter is currently reading American Girl Lea Dives In for her independent reading. This book is about Lea traveling to Brazil, learning about sea turtles, and overcoming her fear of the ocean. Together we are reading The Turtle of Oman for her Language Arts course. This book actually takes place in Oman and Michigan, but he has a love for sea turtles and references them often as analogies for other things going on in his life.

We used a lot of the amazing printables in Stephanie’s Sea Turtle Unit pack to learn about sea turtles. We did the anatomy of a sea turtle and put it in our notebooks, as well as the life cycle. We read about different types of sea turtles as we played the matching game and did a drawing tutorial from THIS book (you can find many drawing tutorials online too.) I then had each of my kids color their turtle to look like a specific one they choose, and label it.

They painted sea turtles using THIS watercolor class on YouTube from Lets Go Make Art kids. If you have older or more advanced painters, THIS is another great watercolor class on sea turtles.

We crafted some cute sea turtles using egg cartons, green construction paper, pom poms for the head, and googly eyes. They added these to their diorama.


Our final project at the end of each biome is to create a diorama. We have been re-using the same box for each unit. (You can find out how I made it on my Mountain Biome blog post.)

This diorama was so cool and completely made by them, I only helped with the background. For the background we used the shaving cream process art method. Put a layer of shaving cream in a dish, add a few drops of liquid watercolor or food coloring (we used blue and purple,) and swirl them together. Lay a piece of card stock on top to cover the entire page, then lay it on a hard surface and wipe all the shaving cream away.

We brought back some coral washed up on the beach from our trip to Hawaii, so I let the kids paint them bright colors to use in their diorama. They each picked 2 different creatures to draw a picture of; fish, sharks, manta ray, etc. They cut them out and taped them to skewers or toothpicks. The other end they used a small piece of air-dry clay to hold them upright. They put kinetic sand on top and a few fuzzy pipe cleaners we had for seaweed.

When they finish their diorama, they present it to the family after dinner with some fun facts they learned during our biome unit.

We had so much fun learning about coral reefs and sea turtles. We are currently studying Brazil and our next biome will be all about the rainforest! Stay tuned for that blog post, because I’m sure it will be jam packed with fun things!

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