• 1. Activate students’ prior knowledge.
    Have a whole-class discussion about students’ experiences with the ocean and beaches. Ask:

    • Have you ever been to a beach? If so, what was it like?
    • Was the beach crowded or empty? How many people were there?
    • How many buildings were there?
    • What animals did you see?
    • What plants did you see?


    2. Have students compare and contrast photographs of beaches.
    Show students the photos of beaches—two photos of national seashores and two of beach resorts. Ask:

    • How are these the same?
    • How are they different?
    • Which one looks most like beaches you have been to?
    • Which one looks most like a place where people would live or go on vacation?
    • Which one looks like it would have the most animals?


    3. Have students brainstorm how people living near the ocean affect ocean animals and plants.
    Prompt students to think about how people affect the environment, including through trash, pollution, noise, fishing, too much light, too many buildings, and too many boats. Write students' ideas on the board.

  • Subjects & Disciplines

    Learning Objectives

    Students will:

    • describe their own experiences at the beach
    • compare and contrast photographs of two beaches
    • brainstorm how humans living near beaches affect ocean plants and animals

    Teaching Approach

    • Learning-for-use

    Teaching Methods

    • Brainstorming
    • Discussions
    • Visual instruction

    Skills Summary

    This activity targets the following skills:

    Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

    National Geography Standards

    • Standard 14:  How human actions modify the physical environment
  • What You’ll Need

    Required Technology

    • Internet Access: Optional
    • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector

    Physical Space

    • Classroom


    • Large-group instruction
  • Background Information

    Many people live near beaches. Others visit beaches for fun. All of these people have an effect on the health of the beaches—both on land and in the water.

    Prior Knowledge

    • None


    Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    beach Noun

    narrow strip of land that lies along a body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: beach
    ocean Noun

    large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: ocean



NOAA: National Marine Sanctuary Program

This activity is made possible by a generous grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Sanctuary Program.