Cool Coral Reefs

Frana L. Allen Skinner School

111 South Throop

Chicago IL 60607

(773) 534-7790


Grades: K through 8

The students will be able to: 1) identify, color and label the continents of the world and the equator; 2) identify, color, and label a world map and the location of the coral reefs; 3) read about and discuss the three types of coral reefs and make samples of each; 4) identify and produce water temperature between 74 and 78 degrees; 5) identify and discuss the term polyps; and 6) construct a colony of polyps.

Materials Needed:

Cooperative groups of 6 - 1 tub of white crayola clay, colored markers, a box of Riggitoni pasta, package of 200 small paper plates, 6 thermometers, 6 plastic cups, water, 60 world maps, 25 pipe cleaners, 12 pieces of blue paper, 12 coffee cans, glue, scissors, and Scotch tape.


This activity will be set up into 5 stations:

Station 1

Maps: Where in the World and Reefs Around the World

Color, label and cut out each map

Cover the cans with the blue paper

Glue each map on each can

Station 2

Temperature: What is the approximate temperature of water in a coral reef? Fill a plastic cup 1/3 of the way with warm water. Using warmer and cooler water, depending on the existing temperature, create a temperature of water between 74 and 78 degrees. Use the thermometer to achieve this desired temperature.

Station 3

The three types of reefs are atoll, barrier, and fringing reefs.

Three plates with clay sculptures showing the following: a. fringing reef – grows outward from the shoreline; b. barrier reef- is separated from the land by a lagoon; c. the atoll - a ring of coral far out in the ocean that has a sunken island or volcano beneath.

Station 4

Polyps are animals found growing in the bottom of coral beds. Place a medium size ball of clay on a paper plate. Get four pieces of riggittoni and color each differently with a marker. Get two pipe cleaners and cut them into thirds. Take some more clay and make four small balls, place these balls on the top of the riggittoni and stick the pipe cleaners in the ball. Then, press down. Take the medium ball of clay and spread it thickly on the paper plate. Take the riggittoni and place it standing up in the clay close together, then build the clay around the colony of pasta.

Station 5

Write a group story on Paula, Paul, Pat, and Peola Polyp. Make sure the story contains important facts about coral reefs, their location, and the kind of inhabitants that inhabit a coral. Reference books on coral reefs will be available for students to research.

Performance Assessment:

Students will be assessed on the following items:


Diving Into Oceans. Ranger Rick’s Nature Scope. Illustrators: Kim Kerin and Jack Shepard. National Wildlife Federation Publishing Co. 1992.

Life In The Coral Reef. Written by Bobbie Kalman and Niki Walker & Photographed by Tom Stack and Associates, Crabtree Publishing Company, 1997.

Webs of Life: Coral Reef. Written by Norbert Wu; includes photographs, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1996.

Coral Reef: A City That Never Sleeps. Written by Mary M. Cerullo & Photographed by Jeffrey L. Rotman, Cobblehill Books, 1996.