Ocean Learning Activities and Programs

Curated by the Education and Outreach Working Group, this is a living document.

This collection is aimed to help educators include the ocean in their practice. The ocean has been oddly overlooked in school systems. With a burgeoning world population and recognition of ocean health’s importance to all life, education is a key tool, to help move us ‘towards the ocean we need for the future we want’. We are all ocean people, no matter where we live on this blue planet, and ocean literacy is about our reciprocal relationship with the ocean: ‘an understanding of ocean influence on us, and our influence on the ocean’. We depend on understanding how the ocean functions.

The term ocean literacy coined in the USA is now recognized internationally and the Ocean Science Literacy Framework made up of seven essential principles and fundamental concepts was developed through consensus in a collaborative process spanning a decade. See ocean science literacy principles below usually referred to as ocean literacy principles.

Ocean Literacy (OL) Principles:

  1. The Earth has one big ocean with many features.
  2. The ocean and life in the ocean shape the features of Earth.
  3. The ocean is a major influence on weather and climate.
  4. The ocean made the Earth habitable.
  5. The ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems.
  6. The ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.
  7. The ocean is largely unexplored.

Canadian ocean science literacy embraces the OL framework yet extends beyond its science content to embrace 21st century pedagogy. The ocean suits a multidisciplinary approach and Canadians broadly support including more than science in defining Canadian ocean literacy. As Canadians we are still learning to respect diverse competencies and ways of knowing and specific Truth and Reconciliation calls to action, counter our tragic history of racism and residential school legacies to provide opportunities to decolonize ocean literacy. A vital difference between American, European and other international versions of ocean literacy is that Canadians are working to responsively value and respect Traditional Indigenous Knowledge and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. These laws and ways of knowing and sustaining span very long time frames and bring different worldviews into Canadian definitions of ocean literacy. Canadians look to diverse Indigenous peoples for important leadership in further developing what Canadian ocean literacy means.


Do you have education resources you would like to submit? Find our submission page here.


Resources for kindergarten to grade 3

Resource Name and LinkOrganization Description OL Principles
Stream to Sea ProgramFisheries and
Oceans Canada
Education Program that includes resources and curriculum for all grade levels to help students understand, respect and protect local watersheds, from stream to sea (also available in French).1-7
Salmon Run Field DayTeachBC Lesson plan for an interactive field trip focusing on intertidal zones and salmon habitat.4,6

Resources for grade 4 to 6

Resource
Name and Link
OrganizationDescriptionOL Principles
Stream to Sea



Fisheries and
Oceans Canada
Education Program that includes resources and curriculum for all grade levels to help students understand, respect and protect their local watershed from stream to sea (also available in French).1-7
Ontario's OceansBiodiversity
Education and
Awareness
Network (BEAN)
A curriculum package for Ontario students to foster a connection with marine biodiversity as a multi-disciplinary topic.5,6
Exploring the Ocean
Canadian
Geographic
Lesson plan introducing students to the diversity of life in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean and initiates students into the world of research.5
Shouting WhalesOcean Networks Canada and Open School BCA comprehensive marine teaching resource which features the marine soundscape, life of marine mammals and more.1,5,6
Ocean Education

National
Geographic
Society
A collection of educator resources centred around human interaction with oceans.1,2,3,5,6
School-Based Weather Station Networkd




School-Based
Weather Station
Network
Database of weather data from schools over Vancouver Island with associated activities and lesson plans.3
SeaChoice Sustainable SeafoodSierra Club BC Teaching kit designed to help teachers educate their students about the value of the oceans and marine conservation issues, with a focus on the global fisheries crisis.2,5,6,
Science First PeoplesFirst Nations Education Steering CommitteeA teacher resource guide to integrate non-appropriated traditional ecological knowledge into the curriculum.3,6
Ducks in the Flow: Resources About Surface Ocean CurrentsWindows to the
Universe
A storybook and classroom activities where students work collaboratively to explore and investigate surface currents found in the ocean and the Great Lakes.1,2
Coral Reefs Web Quest
Canadian
Geographic
Lesson plan introducing students to coral reef ecosystems.1,5,6
Aboriginal HighwaysCanadian
Geographic
Lesson plan overviewing aboriginal peoples use of oceans for transportation.6
Salmonids in the Classroom- IntermediateFisheries and
Oceans Canada
This resource includes lessons (grade 4-7) on salmon migration and survival in the ocean and estuary, salmon fisheries and watershed studies (English & French).4,5,6
Salmonid Classroom Incubation ProgramFisheries and
Oceans Canada
Students raise local salmon from egg to fry and release them back into their stream of origin, learning about salmon life cycle and local watershed.5,6
Storm Drain Marking ProgramFisheries and
Oceans Canada
Student/community groups paint yellow fish on road next to storm drains to remind us that all drains lead to salmon habitat (stream to sea); outreach messages and materials included to reduce stormwater pollution.5,6
Bioaccumulation: A case study of British Columbia's killer whalesFisheries and
Oceans Canada
Five related lessons where students learn about the natural history of British Columbia's killer whale populations and the threats they face (English & French).2,5,6
Endeavour hydrothermal vents: Canada's first marine protected areaFisheries and
Oceans Canada
Grades 4 -11; class discussions, research, and activities to learn about deep sea biodiversity, Canada's Endeavour Hydrothermal vent site and it’s designation as a Marine Protected Area (English & French).1,5,6,7
Turn down the volume!: The impact of sound on harbour porpoisesFisheries and
Oceans Canada
Explore connectivity between the marine environment and humans by learning about the impact of sound on harbour porpoise and student empowerment to make a difference (English & French)5,6
Where the land meets the shoreFisheries and
Oceans Canada
Lesson plan (grade 4-11) about marine nearshores and some of their inhabitants (eelgrass and forage fish); English & French.1,5,6
Fisheries Careers for First Nations-British Columbia


Fisheries and
Oceans Canada
An exploration of traditional and modern fisheries stewardship, related careers and how to direct a career path toward these jobs (English & French).6
Ocean SchoolOcean SchoolOcean School is a free, bilingual educational resources integrated with Google Classroom and alined with curriculums for grades 6-9. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Resources for grade 7 to 9

Resource Name and LinkOrganizationDescriptionOL Principles
Stream to SeaFisheries and
Oceans Canada
Education Program that includes curriculum and resources to help students understand, respect and protect local watersheds, from Stream to Sea (also available in French).1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Ocean SenseOcean Networks
Canada
Selection of resources that explores various oceanographic principles and interweave western science with Indigenous ways of knowing. 5,6,7
Ocean Observatories LessonOcean Networks
Canada
Lesson plan using real ocean data to teach data analysis techniques and foster critical thinking using data sources.7
Creating a better climate future for BCSierra Club BCA toolkit that outlines ten steps for creating a future with a healthy, stable climate.1,3,4,6
The Carbon Cycle GameSierra Club BCA game that illustrates the role oceans and marine life have in carbon storage and climate.1,3,4,6
Educational Learning Resource: Climate ChangeSierra Club BCA teacher's guide for educating students about climate change in an interactive and engaging manner.1,3,4,6
Melting IcePBS Learning MediaA lesson plan regarding the role of melting ice on changing climate, loaded with video and media supplements.1,2,3,4,5,6
Ocean Acidification InquiryPatrick Wells - Science Teacher/ResearcherA lesson is to help students make connections between the physical change in ocean water and the overproduction of carbon dioxide by burning fossil fuels.3.6
Great Bear SeaGreat Bear SeaCurriculum resources exploring a variety of themes such as Indigenous Knowledge, collaborative science, marine planning and stewardship.1,5,6
Bamfield MSC Field TripsBamfield Marine Sciences CentreImmersion ocean and coastal science field trips.1,4,5,6
Ocean LiteracyOcean WiseOnline courses for elementary, middle school and high school students guiding them through the 7 principles of ocean literacy.1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Wetland Resources for TeachersDucks UnlimitedResource site for all of DUCs Education resources. Includes Saltmarsh lesson plans for grades 7-9, online elementary level Duck Detectives game that allows students to track duck migrations across North America, in-class teaching guides focused on different types of wetlands, and a guide to conducting your own wetland field trip.2,3,5,6
Endeavour hydrothermal vents: Canada's first marine protected areaFisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)Grades 4 -11; class discussions, research, and activities to learn about deep sea biodiversity, Canada's Endeavour Hydrothermal vent site and it’s designation as a Marine Protected Area (English & French).1,5,6,7
Where the land meets the sea: the nearshoreFisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)Lesson plan (grade 4-11) about marine nearshores and some of their inhabitants (eelgrass and forage fish); English & French.1,5,6
Fisheries Careers for First Nations- British ColumbiaFisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)An exploration of traditional and modern fisheries stewardship, related careers and how to direct a career path toward these jobs (English & French).6
Ocean SchoolOcean SchoolOcean School is a free, bilingual educational resources integrated with Google Classroom and alined with curriculums for grades 6-9. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Resources for grade 10-12

Resource Name and LinkOrganizationDescription OL Principles
Stream To SeaFisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)Education program that includes resources and curriculum for all grade levels to help students understand, respect and protect local watershed, from Stream to Sea (also available in French).1,2,3,4,5,6,7
Inuit Observations on Climate ChangeInternational Institute for Sustainable DevelopmentA teacher's guide for a film exploring climate change from an Inuit perspective.5
Through Mala's EyesCrown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs CanadaA series of lesson plans to foster appreciation of Inuit culture and lifestyles.6
Water, Water EverywherePolar HuskyFull unit lesson plan to learn about the importance of water from an Inuit perspective.1,6
Endeavour hydrothermal vents: Canada's first marine protected areasFisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)Grades 4 -11; class discussions, research, and activities to learn about deep sea biodiversity, Canada's Endeavour Hydrothermal vent site and it’s designation as a Marine Protected Area (English & French).1,5,6,7
Where the land meets the sea: the nearshoreFisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)Lesson plan (grade 4-11) about marine nearshores and some of their inhabitants (eelgrass and forage fish); English & French.1,5,6
Ecological footprint- How does the way we live affect the Earth?Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)Secondary activity and discussion using a measurement tool that allows students to calculate and consider the effects of their personal resource use (English & French).5,6
The Northern Abalone: Species at RiskFisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)
Explore the history of the abalone fishery in B.C. with student presentations and an interactive game (with marshmallows!). English and French.4,5,6




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