Water Cycle - Oceans (K)
Post Lab 

  • Investigating oceans and lakes. 
  • Comparing an ocean and a sea.
  • marine
  • ocean
  • salt
  • sea

Students use a globe to locate the different oceans.


The world’s oceans have been a barrier to humans for a long time. It has historically been looked at as a horrible and fearful road into the unknown.  The ocean seems to go on forever.  Children of today have to be reminded that early people did not have the tools that we have at our disposal.  Many men would go out to sea and never return and so stories of a harsh and revengeful ocean would emerge.  In Roman (Neptune) and Greek (Poseidon) mythology, the god of the oceans, was one of the most powerful.  

Young children need to understand that the oceans are  just filling a depression on the Earth’s surface.  There are mountains and valleys underneath the oceans.  The bottom of the oceans is not just a smooth, curved surface.   The world’s oceans are all connected, so sometimes it is difficult to say where one ocean begins and another ends.  Oceanographers, or scientists that study the oceans, use similar chemical characteristics to define the water masses.  

The four oceans that are easily distinguishable are the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic.  The Antarctic Ocean is really the southern tip of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian.  A sea is a smaller body of salt water, with most cases, an outlet to a larger marine body.  A lake can be either fresh water (Lake Michigan) or salt water (Great Salt Lake), but they all have not outlet to the ocean.

  1. An ocean is a large body of salt water.  A sea is just a small body of salt water.  There are four major ocean bodies that students will learn in this exercise.  They are the Indian Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and Arctic Ocean.  Some maps include the southern oceans around Antarctica as a separate ocean, but in this exercise we will only use four.  Use the enclosed worksheets for students to use to find the different oceans and color them.   
  2. Students should be given inflatable globes and world placemats, so they can locate the oceans in small groups.  Remind students that blue represents the oceans.  Have them locate where they live, then have them find the closest ocean.  Then ask if anyone knows of another ocean that they might have heard of or even visited.  
  3. Try to have the children unfold the different oceans instead of you telling them which one is which.  You may want to tell stories about each of the oceans.  For example, Polar bears live in the Arctic Ocean; Columbus sailed across the Atlantic;  Hawaii is in the Pacific.  Any fact that your students may relate to.  If any of your children are from another country this might be a good time to discuss where that country  is.  
  4. Also emphasize that organisms that live in salt water are different than organisms that live in fresh water.   Also, many children do not understand that an island is part of the Earth.  They think it floats in the water. 

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