Life Below Water

At the start of the new decade a time of reflection swept the world and global goals shaped many of these moments, particularly with the devastating fires sweeping Australia. 10 years ago though, the United Nations replaced the “Millennium Goals” with the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of universal goals that meet the urgent environmental, political and economic challenges facing our world.

“The SDGs are unique in that they cover issues that affect us all. They reaffirm our international commitment to end poverty, permanently, everywhere. They are ambitious in making sure no one is left behind. More importantly, they involve us all to build a more sustainable, safer, more prosperous planet for all humanity.”

United Nations Development Programme

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All 193 member countries of the United Nations signed and agreed to take action towards these goals, including Canada, USA, UK and Australia. Therefore, we have permission from the leaders of our countries to take action towards these goals in our classrooms. It is our duty to educate our students on these global issues.

But how might we tackle such huge topics with the youngest children in our schools?

Kristi Meeuwse and I designed a series of a lessons around plants, animals and people which might help teach towards some of these global goals. Let’s start this blog series by exploring lesson ideas which can support Goal 14: Life Below Water.

Goal 14 sets targets to reduce marine pollution, sustainably manage coastal areas, regulate overfishing and increase scientific knowledge of marine biodiversity.

There are 3 books in the ‘Young Children Can Create… a better planet’ series and each book contains activities to use drawing, photography, video and music. These creative mediums help young children to capture their world and make decisions about their environment or learn about other habitats.

Here are some examples of activities to help young children engage with Goal 14: Life Below Water.

Book 2: Animals

Use Sketches School to draw under water habitats which will be used as backgrounds in an ocean animation.

Listen to sounds from the ocean and use GarageBand to compose soundscapes of sea life. An example of this and instructions to record soundscapes are included in the book.

In Keynote, insert the drawing as a background to the slide and add shapes of ocean animals. Fill them with photographs of materials from your classroom. Discuss where the materials come from and how they might damage ocean life if not from a sustainable source.

Use the GarageBand soundscape as music for the sea life animation. How precious is life under water? Be excited to learn more about ocean wildlife!

To see a finished example of this ocean animation, download the Animals book and you’ll find all of the instructions to create your own in the book too.


Book 3: People

This book will use the animation from the Animals book and build on it to teach the impact humans are having on ocean life. First, go on a litter photo walk around your local area and collect images.

Return to Keynote and add shapes of bottles, straws and other objects found on the litter walk. Fill the shapes with the images from your photo walk.

How do the animals respond to the litter in their habitat? Create an animation which shows the damage caused by humans. To see a finished example, download the People book.


There are plenty more ideas to use photography, drawing, video and music tools to help teach about the Life Below Water goal with your young learners.

All of the work that children complete in these lessons can be saved and organised in a Learning Journal:

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The download link for the Learning Journal is available in the books and instructions on how to use the journal, and all of the apps included in the planning, is included in the books too. Download the books below:

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Book 1: Plants                               Book 2: Animals                     Book 3: People

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