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1st, 2nd, 3rd


Science, Visual and Performing Arts

Resource Type

  • Activity - Classroom

Regional Focus




Coral Reef in a Box

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  • This lesson plan and activity teaches students about coral reefs and how they are being damaged by climate change. 
  • Students will make a coral reef diorama in a shoebox. 
  • The resource includes links to a number of easy-to-understand articles on ocean acidification and coral bleaching. 

Teaching Tips


  • The student handout contains a variety of colorful marine life images for students to cut out and glue into their coral reef.
  • Students will learn how humans are destroying coral reefs when they release greenhouse gases into the air.

Additional Prerequisites

  • The student handout does not include any photographs of coral, so teachers may wish to have a few images of coral reefs ready to show the students.


  • Older students could make a dual diorama with one half of the box representing a healthy coral reef and one half of the box representing a bleached coral reef. Students could write a few sentences to describe the two scenes.
  • Art classes could modify this activity to make it a sculpting project. Each student could sculpt a piece of coral and then the corals could be collectively arranged into a reef. The coral reef and a brief description of the dangers they face due to climate change could be displayed in the school.
  • Other resources on this topic include this engaging video on coral bleaching, this interactive storybook about biodiversity in Australia, and this video on ocean acidification.
Scientist Notes
The resource provides insights on coral reefs and their importance in sustaining the biotic resources in marine ecosystems. Students can learn about coral reef ecosystems and how climate change has had a negative impact on them. Students will also create their own coral reef box. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • LS1: Structures and Processes
      • 3-LS1-1. Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles, but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.
    • LS3: Heredity
      • 3-LS3-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence that plants and animals have traits inherited from parents and that variation of these traits exists in a group of similar organisms.
  • Arts
    • Art and Design: Standard 1 - Students will generate, develop, and refine artistic work.
      • A.A.Cr.3.e Create works of art that introduce students to media, care of tools, and basic craftsmanship skills.
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