Engaging resources for English Language Teachers

Here’s a lesson plan I outlined that helped me create an exciting class on this topic. I’ve tried it from 3rd (ESL) to 6th (EFL) grades:

Lesson Objective: To introduce kids to the fascinating world of deep-sea creatures, their characteristics, and their adaptations. To explore the deep sea ecosystem and design their own unique deep-sea creature with adaptations to survive in that environment.

Duration: The project can span over several class sessions, depending on the depth of exploration and complexity of the final products.

Materials Needed:

  1. Visual aids (pictures, videos, or illustrations of deep-sea creatures).
  2. Whiteboard or chalkboard with markers/chalk.
  3. Ocean-themed decorations (optional but can enhance the atmosphere).
  4. Coloring materials (crayons, colored pencils), different types of paper, recycling material, shoe boxes, etc – for creative activity.

Class Outline:

  1. Phase 1: Introduction and Exploration (3-4 sessions):
    • Begin the class with a short discussion about the ocean and its different zones (sunlight zone, twilight zone, midnight zone, abyssal zone).
    • Show some pictures or videos (on Youtube) of the Mariana Trench exploration of the deep sea to pique their interest and curiosity.

Exploring Deep-Sea Creatures (20 minutes):

    • Introduce a few fascinating deep-sea creatures one by one. You can choose from creatures like anglerfish, giant squid, viperfish, lanternfish, gulper eel, etc. I have prepared flashcards (digital & printable)
    • For each creature, provide some interesting facts about their appearance, size, and unique adaptations that help them survive in the dark, cold, and high-pressure environment of the deep sea.
    • Encourage questions and discussions throughout the presentation.
(Click on the image)
(Click on the image)
    • Interactive Activity (20 minutes):

        • Divide the students into small groups and provide each group with a picture or illustration of a deep-sea creature.
        • Have the students discuss, research, or read about the creature’s appearance and adaptations and share their thoughts within their groups. Give each group a fact card.
        • Bring the class back together and have each group present their creature to the rest of the class.
(Click on the image)

Vocabulary Time (20 minutes):

    • Distribute the vocabulary organizer provided to help students identify the creature and mind the correct spelling of the names.
    • Encourage students to ask questions and express their curiosity about the deep sea.

Literacy Time (20 minutes):

  • Divide the class into small groups and give each group a literacy activity on deep-sea creatures to fill in and read. They should explore its appearance, adaptations, behavior, and role in the ecosystem.
  • Each group discusses their findings, fostering a collaborative learning environment.
  • For extra practice on Ocean Layers and where animals live, I created this card game to ease remembering and awareness.
(Click on the image)
(Click on the image)

Phase 2: Designing a Deep-Sea Creature’s LAPBOOK (3-4 sessions):

  • Explain the research task: Each student must assemble their own deep-sea creature lapbook, taking the information from the deep-sea creatures they researched using books and magazines.
  • Emphasize that teamwork and throughout research are encouraged based on real-life principles of survival in the deep sea, especially in the design of their own submersible.
  • Provide students with design templates (see Ocean Creatures lapbook) to create and illustrate it.
(Click on the image)

Phase 4: Deep-Sea Dioramas or Stories (3-4 sessions):

    • Offer students the option to take their deep-sea creatures to the next level.
    • For hands-on learners they can create deep-sea dioramas showcasing their creature’s habitat and adaptations. I encourage them to pick in pairs or groups one creature we haven’t focused on in the lapbook but that they have researched.
    • For creative writers, they can write short stories or descriptive paragraphs about their creatures’ lives and challenges in the deep sea.

Phase 5: Creature Presentations (2 sessions):

  1. Give students time to complete their deep-sea creature designs.
  2. Each pair or group presents their creature to the class, explaining its name, appearance, adaptations, and how it survives in the deep sea.
  3. Encourage students to use their imagination and storytelling skills to make the presentation engaging.

Phase 6: Sharing and Reflection (1-2 sessions):

  • Organize an exhibition or storytelling event where students can showcase their deep-sea creatures, dioramas/stories/lap books.
  • Encourage students to ask questions and appreciate each other’s work.
  • Have a reflection session where students share what they learned, their challenges, and how their understanding of the deep-sea ecosystem has grown.
    • Recap the lesson’s main points, highlighting some deep-sea creatures’ unique characteristics and adaptations.
    • Address any final questions or observations from the students.

Teaching Tips:

  1. Keep the language simple and age-appropriate, avoiding many complex scientific terms.
  2. Use visuals extensively to make the class more engaging and memorable.
  3. Encourage curiosity and questions, allowing students to explore the topic further.
  4. Incorporate interactive and creative activities to make learning fun.
  5. Be prepared for unexpected questions or tangents related to ocean creatures; it shows the students are genuinely interested in the topic.

Project-Based Learning Tips:

  1. Provide ongoing guidance and support as students work on their projects.
  2. Offer opportunities for peer collaboration and feedback during different phases.
  3. Allow students to make choices and decisions within the project to foster ownership and autonomy.
  4. Use rubrics or assessment criteria to evaluate both the process and the final products.

Decorating the classroom with an «Ocean Creatures of the Deep Sea» theme can create an immersive and engaging learning environment for your students. Here are some decorating ideas to bring the deep sea theme to life:

  1. Ocean Blue Color Scheme: Have elements on the walls in shades of blue to mimic the colors of the ocean. Consider using different shades to create depth and dimension, like hanging blue fabric or paper on one of the walls. Add cutouts or posters of deep-sea creatures and plants to complete the look. This can serve as a visual aid for discussions and activities.
  2. Glow-in-the-Dark Elements: Use glow-in-the-dark stickers, paint, or decals to add bioluminescent accents to the classroom. This will make the room feel more magical during dimly lit activities.
  3. Ocean Layer Jar: Set up a small jar with all the ocean layers. This can be a focal point for the theme and serve as a calming area in the classroom.
  4. Ocean Soundscape: Play soft ocean sounds or whale songs in the background to create a serene atmosphere during certain activities or reading time.
  5. Ocean-themed Book Corner: Designate a cozy corner as an ocean-themed reading area with books about marine life, deep-sea creatures, and ocean adventures.


I hope you have enjoyed all my tips and serve you to create an awesome lesson with your ELLs.