Catholic Schoolhouse Ocean Layers Box (Y1, W3)

In the science activity this week, students will learn that there are four layers to the ocean and have an opportunity to make an Ocean Layers booklet.  In the development of the Year 1 Science book, we created this fun project to make an Ocean Layers Box.  Since time is limited when you meet with your group , this project didn’t make it into the book.   But since we came up with the project, wrote instructions and took pictures, I’m delighted to share this with you so you can try this project at home, especially if you have kids who love crafts!  If you are interested in seeing more of what is available in the science book, click here:  Year 1 Science Book.

Supplies Needed:

Shoebox (1 per child unless you want to construct just one for the whole class for smaller children)


Vellum paper

Construction Paper (blue and black)

Glue sticks or glue, glue paper and toothpicks

Printed pictures of animals for each zone (these are the same as the Year 1 Science book- see printable below)

Labels for each zone (these are the same as in the Year 1 Science book- see printable below)


Colored pencils or crayons

Ocean Layers– Printable


• Trace the outline of the flashlight on the skinny end of the shoebox. Cut out a circle slightly smaller to allow the flashlight room to stand. (You may need to help some students with this since some shoebox cardboard can be thick).


• Trace the sides of the box onto blue construction paper and glue to the insides of the box to be the ocean backdrop for the organisms. Use black for the bottom.


• Trace the skinny side of the box onto black construction paper, blue construction paper, and vellum paper. Cut ~1/4 inch outside your traced lines on 3 sides. Snip the corners and fold on the trace lines. These will divide the different ocean zones.


• Glue the three dividers into the box with the vellum paper closest to the flashlight hole, then the blue construction paper, then the black. This divides the box into four sections.


• Print and cut out the ocean organisms from the printable. Color the ocean creatures if desired.


• Glue the organisms onto the sides and back of the box according to the layer in which they belong. Ask students questions about the creatures in each layer. Some examples may be: Have they seen a jelly fish at the beach? Which layer do they think a dolphin lives? The angler fish has a light on his face- what does this tell you about which zone he lives in? Whelk and hermit crabs eat dead organisms as they fall to the bottom of the ocean, where do they belong? This will probably be review for those who’ve already done the project in the science book, or a head start if you do this project before you complete the science book activity.


• Glue labels onto each layer. Set flashlight on top of box and shine down through the layers. The velum paper allows some light to pass through, while the construction paper does not. This should demonstrate how creatures in the sunlight zone get the most light, the ones in the twilight zone get some light, and the ones in the midnight zone and abyss get no light at all.


I hope this is a fun 3-dimensional way to understand the light that reaches each layer of the ocean.  The Ocean Layers Book, that your students will make when you meet with your group will teach the same concept, but in an activity that is completable within more limited time!

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