Bodies of Water Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Maria Airth

Maria has a Doctorate of Education and over 20 years of experience teaching psychology and math related courses at the university level.

Is it an ocean or a sea? Is there a difference? This lesson plan will guide you to helping your students answer these questions and more through a text lesson, discussion, artistic expression, active games and research.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • differentiate between a sea and an ocean
  • identify characteristics of bodies of water
  • represent bodies of water artistically


15 - 20 minutes - Lesson

30 minutes - Activity 1

10 - 20 minutes - Activity 2

1 week - Activity 3 (homework option)

Curriculum Standards


Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.


Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.


Add audio recordings and visual displays to presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.


  • Copies of the text lesson Bodies of Water: Lesson for Kids and lesson quiz, one for each student
  • Poster board
  • Art supplies (including paint, glue, scissors, markers, colored pencils and tissue paper in green, blue and brown)
  • Game cards (a sheet of paper listing the types of bodies of water, each with a line next to it)
  • Name cards for bodies of water, excluding their identifiers (e.g., 'Nile' instead of 'Nile River')
    • You will need enough so that teams of two students each will be able to collect one of each type of body of water.
    • Repeats are fine.
    • Make sure to use all the major body of water names (like the oceans, seas and major rivers).


  • Begin the lesson by asking students ''What is a body of water?'' Write student answers on the board.
  • When students have finished guessing, add any bodies of water included in the lesson that have not been said to the list on the board.
    • Do all these bodies of water hold the same type of water?
    • Is there a difference between an ocean and a sea?
  • Handout the copies of the Bodies of Water: Lesson for Kids text lesson and read the introduction and 'Water, Water, Everywhere' sections.
    • Looking at our list on the board, identify all of the fresh water bodies of water.
  • Discuss with students the difference between fresh and salt water bodies of water. This will just be their thoughts, let them know that you will be exploring these ideas in the lesson.
  • Read the 'Fresh Water' section of the lesson text including the subsections 'Streams and Rivers' and 'Ponds and Lakes'.
  • Discuss the differences and similarities between these four bodies of water.
    • How is a stream different than a river?
    • What makes something a pond instead of a lake?
    • Can you name a river?
    • Can you name a lake?
    • Do streams and ponds have names?
  • Read the 'Salt Water' section of the lesson text including the 'Oceans' and 'Seas' subsections. Discuss:
    • Now what do you think is the difference between an ocean and a sea?
    • Can you name an ocean without looking at the handout?
    • Can you name a sea and tell us where it is?
  • Read the 'Lesson Summary'.
  • Ask students if they have any questions. Discuss the questions as a class.
  • Consider adding information about gulfs (such as the Gulf of Mexico) to your discussion. It is part of the ocean, like a sea, but instead of being surrounded by land (as is a sea) it bites into the land.
  • Hand out the copies of the lesson quiz and have students work independently to complete it.
  • When students have finished taking the quiz, review the questions and answers with the class.

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