How to Do A Homeschool Marine Biology Curriculum Unit Study

Mar 11, 2024

Creating a homeschool marine biology curriculum using unit studies doesn't have to be hard, especially if you use NatureGlo's relaxed unit study approach. Gathering and immersing the family in the resources for a marine biology homeschool unit can be an extremely satisfying learning adventure for your family that can be pressure-free.

Do you have a child that's aspiring to become a marine biologist? Our seas are in great need for sustainable practices and scientists with a sustainable bent towards saving our seas and marine wildlife.

It's necessary for children to have a great awareness for how much our seas need our help. This awareness could really help spur your young learner to fall in love with the ocean, help clean it up and protect it.

What Is Your Homeschool Marine Biology Curriculum Unit Study Style?

  1. The Done For You (DFY) - no fault of your own, you just don't have the time to create an in-depth study backed by hours, days, weeks...heck, sometimes MONTHS of research! My created resources have literally taken me years to create and revise. You're relieved when you can purchase a unit study or resource that enhances your unit study that's ready to be used immediately.
  2. The Build it All Yourselfer (BIY...rather, DIY) - You're the die-hard DIYourselfer. You want to work by the sweat of your brow even if you're up until 2 am downloading rich resources, writing your own stories, creating all the math word problems related to your topic. Just be careful that you don't burn out. Been there, done that. I hope that you're able to publish that puppy!
  3. Somewhere in between #1 and #2. You're happy when you find parts of a unit study, including resources, lapbooks etc., but, also love the joy of the study/research journey. You write some of the materials yourself.

Personally, I'm a #2. I'm a DIYourselfer who has created the DFY online courses for marine biology.

Looking for a great FREE DFY ocean unit study resource?

Get NatureGlo's FREE Unit Study Planner Template with Marine Fish Unit Study Plan

marine biology unit study

marine biology homeschool curriculum

In this article, I'm going to give you the framework for a super awesome Homeschool Marine Biology Curriculum Unit Study, that you can create easily on the fly.

This article will help you take actionable steps so that you can create your own original unit study tailored around your learners academic interests and subjects you want to cover across your curriculum.

This post is great for you if:

  • You have access to the sea now (the rest of us can go there in our imagination)
  • If you're a homeschooler with regular beachfront access (maybe you even LIVE at the beach), consider yourself extremely fortunate. I invite you to go out on the beach alone in your bare feet with a journal, your favorite writing utensil with an enclosed cup of tea or coffee.
  • You have zero beachfront access, but, access to a local library, and or, the Internet. That's right. If you ONLY have access to the Internet, you can successfully do a Marine Biology unit.

Let me help you brainstorm some out-of-the box connections you can make with your beautiful achingly awesome beach access. This is a living classroom for you and your children. The rest of us can sip tea or coffee from wherever we are and use the template below.

How to Begin A Homeschool Science Curriculum: Marine Biology Unit Study

It doesn't have to be hard to begin implementing a homeschool science curriculum Marine Biology unit study for any age.

Below are some practical tips to get started with your marine biology unit:

  1. Go to a beach or imagine that you're at the beach. Look down at the sand you're standing or sitting on. What patterns do you see?
  2. Pick up a handful of sand and notice the colors and size of the grains. The grains of sand collectively are fractals or are self-similar. If you zoom into different points of the sand - imagine a large square surrounding certain points of the sand pile. Make it smaller and smaller in your mind. It will look the same at each zoom either in or out.
  3. Look where the sea waves are rolling. Do you see any ripples in the sand? Looking at patterns in sand you'll find wave patterns and fractals. These are mathematical connections that could keep you busy for hours. See where we're going here?
  4. Draw these sand/math patterns in your journal. One of my most favorite past times is beachcombing, especially for washed up seashells. When I was a girl, I called it "shell hunting" as I was keenly interested in collecting seashells.
  5. Beachcomb along the shore. Turn over various seaweeds and see what's beneath. Collect a few of the best seashell specimens. Draw them in your journal.
  6. Notice beautiful patterns on the shells you find. One of the most common patterns are spirals on gastropod shells and lines on scallops. Draw your best specimens in your journal.

The Importance of the Homeschool Marine Biology Journal or Notebook

What I'm inviting you to do is to use a free-style journal or notebook. You'll want your children to later join in the fun with each of their own journals or notebooks. Journaling is an important part of scientific study. Using a free-style journal or notebook for your marine biology unit study will foster creativity, free-thinking, art, and your kiddos can incorporate a variety of subjects in one book - their journal.

What do I mean by a "free-style" journal or notebook? It means students can freely design and arrange learning along the pages in any format they want. Granted, this may not work for every child and they may need structure handed to them. In which case you can have them draw some boxes with a ruler or affix notebooking templates inside of the journal.

Cross-curricular Homeschool Marine Biology Curriculum Activities

  • Seashore Gym Class - Have races across the beach, play badminton, volleyball, boogie board, frisbee, and or catch
  • Beach Geology - Collect different stones. Discuss the erosive activities that occurred to make each stone the shape it is. Surely the ocean waves had a big part.
  • Physics of wave movement - study the waves as they roll or crash in. Photograph the waves. Draw them in a journal. Make a diagram of the different parts of a wave.
  • Beach Art - Do water color paintings of the ocean waves and the sky at sunrise and sunset.
  • Seashore Literature/Poetry - Sit on the beach and write poetry about the scenery around you.
  • Marine Geological/History - Write an imaginative history of how your beachfront became what it is it today over whatever span of time you decide - 100, 1000, ten-thousand years or more. You decide.

Divide Up a Marine Biology Unit Study Into Mini Units

Marine Biology is the study of life in the oceans. I'll give you a breakdown of the major Marine Biology unit study topics you'll want to cover in your studies. Divide the unit study into several sections per listed topic below. This study could take anywhere from 2 - 5 weeks (covering 1 - 2 topics per week) to a few years (a few topics per year covered in great depth) depending on how often and thoroughly you and your kids want to do this study.

I have always started with the smallest marine organisms and worked my way up to the largest marine organisms, but, you can study the topics in any order you and your learners want.

The most popular topics are the marine vertebrates and their habitats. Smaller organisms can also be woven in with studying the larger vertebrates since the smaller organisms are part of their diet and live in their habitats.

Marine Biology Unit Study Notebook Setup

If you haven't used notebooks before, they are a wonderful diversion from workbooks and textbooks because they become a personal learning journey recorded by your children.

It may take some initial work to set the notebook up, but the rewards are great. The more consistently you use them, the more reliant you'll become on them and feel liberated from using workbooks and textbooks.

marine biology unit study

Here's a page from one of my online marine biology student's notebooks featuring a poem and a drawing they created about a crab.

Marine Biology Notebook Materials:

Pick your notebook style:

  • 1 - 3" 3-ring binder stocked with loose-leaf paper per child
  • 3-ring hole punch (this will be handy so that you can hole-punch and add in coloring pages and other handouts per topic studied.
  • 3-ring dividers with index labels


  • A blank journal per child
  • Optional: folder per child for keeping separate handouts since it's not as easy like the 3-ring binders to put handouts in a journal
  • Your chosen coloring media: colored pencils, markers, crayons, paints etc.

Directions for Marine Biology Notebook Setup

  1. Set up the 3-ring binders with divider labels or journals with each section listed below per child.
  2. Decorate the cover of each section. This can be done as a fun routine right before each new topic studied. You can use picture printouts, coloring pages or your child can draw an appropriate image about the topic's section.

Marine Biology Unit Study Topics

  1. Scientific Method in Marine Biology - used since the 17th century, a systematic observation including measurement, experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
  2. How Life Began in the Seas - studied according to your family's worldview
  3. Taxonomy & Phylogeny - how the plants and animals are identified and labeled
  4. Physical Oceanography - describing and understanding ocean circulation and fluid motion including the distribution of its properties such as temperature, salinity, dissolved chemical elements, and gas concentration.
  5. Marine Plants - include algae, seagrass, marsh grass, and mangroves
  6. Marine Microbes - microscopic plants, animals and bacteria
  7. Marine Invertebrates (animals without backbones) - sponges, mollusks, and jellyfish
  8. Marine Vertebrates (animals with backbones) - fish, whales, dolphins, sea turtles, seals etc.
  9. Marine Ecosystems - estuaries, coral reefs, lagoons, salt marshes, intertidal zones, mangroves, and the deep sea
  10. Human Use and Impacts on Marine Life - Jacques Cousteau's resources are abundant with great material for this study.

Some marine life studies are more alluring than others. You can let your learners choose what they want to learn first (marine animals, right?), or start from #1 in the above list.

Don't Fall into the Marine Biology Lesson Information Trap

Don't be overwhelmed by all of the topics that can be studied in marine biology. You can also swoop around every year and revisit marine biology. This way you can incrementally add new topics instead of dragging your learners through overwhelming gobs of information and trying to cover it all.

There's zero harm in adding new topics to be studied to your marine biology studies every year until graduation.

#1 - The Scientific Method in Marine Biology

This could be lots of fun to dive into. I realize many folks don't have access to an ocean front beach. But, those fortunate to have beachfront access, you might like to try the fun activity with your children all the while practicing the scientific method. Those of us without beachfront access can still appreciate the example of how the scientific method works for an experiment.


Go to scientific Method Activity

#2 - How Sea Life Began

For years I've been teaching non-faith and faith based families. How did we all get along in the same class? By my not teaching origins. But, by all means, you'll be teaching what you believe to your children whether it be Evolution, Creation, or something in between.

Academic Connections:

  • History of Earth
  • Creative Writing

Creative Writing About How Sea Life Began

  1. Write an imaginary story about how life in the seas began.
  2. Answer in writing: what was life like for the first whale or other favorite sea animal?
  3. Answer in writing: What was life like for the first coral reef community? What did the animals look like? Any different? The same as today?

#3 - Marine Biology Taxonomy & Phylogeny

Learning basic taxonomic principles early is important for children. Children can gain a huge head start and understand scientific books better when they learn this early.

Here's a FANTASTIC free printable:

DOWNLOAD HERE: Classification of Marine Animals Printable

#4 - Physical Oceanography

Physical oceanography is describing and understanding ocean circulation and fluid motion including the distribution of its properties such as temperature, salinity, dissolved chemical elements, and gas concentrations.

Academic Connections:

  • Chemistry - Integrate middle/high school chemistry concepts for marine salinity, dissolved chemicals and gasses parts.

#5 - Marine Plants

Marine plants include algae, seagrass, marsh grass, and mangroves. You can study the different types of plants according to their ecological role in their community including the animals that can life in or around them. Studying animal life alongside plants can make a marine plants study "more colorful", as some children have a hard time focusing on plant life.

Academic Connections:

  • Art, Science, and math: Seaweed pressing - If you get access to the sea, you can collect and press seaweed; there are tons of tutorials online on how to do this.
  • Language Arts: Creative Writing - Write stories about a seagrass, marsh grass or mangrove communities. Include the different kinds of animals that can live in and around these types of plants.

CLICK HERE for Gardenista's Seaweed press activity.

#6 - Marine Microbes

These include microscopic bacteria, algae, dinoflagellates and also diatoms. Diatoms are tiny jewel-like algae. Foraminifers are also microscopic beautiful organisms with geometric shells or tests.

Diatoms are some of the most fascinating marine algae. They are composed of symmetrical glass-like organisms.

Academic Connections:

  1. Math - study the shapes and patterns found in diatoms and dinoflagellates.
  2. Biochemistry - dinoflagellates are known for their glowing or bioluminescence properties seen at night on the ocean's surface. Study the chemicals that make up their bioluminescence.

#7 - Marine Invertebrates (animals without backbones)

Marine invertebrates include a myriad of animals such as sponges, jellyfish, mollusks (clams, conchs, mussels), comb and box jellies (the later two not related to jellyfish). Children typically love to study animal life. Therefore, once you start diving into marine invertebrate studies, students can get very excited.

CLICK HERE Marine Invertebrates Study Page

#8 - Marine Vertebrates (animals with backbones)

Marine vertebrates include fish, whales, dolphins, sea turtles, seals, sea otters, and polar bears.

GO HERE: Marine Vertebrates Informative Article

Academic Connections

  • Math - observe the patterns and shapes of the animals as you study them. Make it part of your study routine to make "mathematically descriptive sketches" of various marine invertebrates and vertebrates in your free-style journals. Write about numbers, patterns, shapes, and relationships such as sizes and weights related to the animals in your free style journals.
  • Literature - Find fiction and non-fiction stories about varying marine invertebrate and vertebrates that your child is interested in learning about.
  • Creative Writing - Invite your child to select favorite marine animals and read fiction and non-fiction stories about it. After completing some research about their chosen animal, they can write a fictional story about the animal's day-to-day life.
  • Poetry - Choose a favorite poetry style and write a poem about their favorite marine animal.
  • History/Biography - Study famous marine vertebrate scientists and their work.

#9 Marine Ecosystems

There are so many resources and library books you can find about marine ecosystems. Go to the library and look at as many of the following marine communities you and your children want to focus on at a time:

  • Open ocean
  • Coral reefs
  • Abyssal plain (whale falls, deep-sea coral, and brine pools)
  • Polar (Antarctic and Arctic)
  • Hydrothermal vents
  • Deep sea
  • Mangroves
  • Rock shores
  • Sandy shores
  • Kelp Forests
  • Salt marshes
  • Mudflats

Academic Connections for Marine Invertebrates and Vertebrates:

  • Marine Biology Math - As you read through the library books, choose ecosystem pictures and diagram s to focus on and make mathematical sketches in your notebooks.
  • Marine Biology Creative Writing - Each ecosystem will inspire creative writing stories. Have your child choose their favorite ecosystem. What if they could build a house and live in one of the ecosystems underwater? Which ecosystem would it be? Write a story.
  • Marine Biology Poetry - Research poetry about each of the ecosystems. Students can create their own poetry inspired by a chosen ecosystem.

#10 - Human Use and Impacts on Marine Life

In my Marine Biology online courses, we study the life and works of Jacques Cousteau. When I was a child in the 70's, I remember the dreamy French accent and mesmerizing documentaries of Cousteau's TV shows. I believe it was a big reason why I was influenced so early on to love studying marine life and create my own marine biology notebooks at the young age of 8.

Human Use and Impacts on Marine Life Academic Connections

  • Math - Study instruments that people use in marine conservation. There are a lot of math connections involved.
  • Writing - Students can write about how we can best clean up the oceans.
  • Poetry - Along the same theme of protecting what we love, learners can write inspirational stories about protecting and cleaning up the oceans.


Underwater Discovery and Adventure:

The Story of Jacques Cousteau

Make it up as you go with A Relaxed Marine Biology Unit Study

Don't be afraid to make up a homeschool marine biology curriculum unit study as you go by following your kids' daily topical interests. Here are some leading questions to get them to think for themselves in how they can create their own marine biology cross-curricular unit study.

Ask Your Learners:

  1. Math - What numbers, patterns and shapes are related to this study? Come up with interesting word problems. You can affix most elementary and middle school math concepts into any of the marine biology topics studied. Use your library books to get ideas for mathematical thought per topic.
  2. Creative Writing - What's your favorite marine biology topic? If you could be there in person, what would you do or say? Come up with a fun story about it.
  3. History - What have we learned through history about this topic?
  4. Art - What kinds of art do you want to do in relation to your favorite topics? Help the kids brainstorm their favorite kinds of art and what would go great with their chosen interest within the topic.

Want to learn more?

I wrote an article specifically about those crazy looking deep-sea creatures.

GO HERE and read Tips for a Deep-sea Creatures Thematic Study

Looking for a DFY online Marine Biology class experience for homeschool kids ages 8 and up?

Grab my bestselling online Shark Unit Study below.

NatureGlo's Online Shark Unit Study

shark unit study


Whether creating a tailored marine biology unit study from scratch, use my free Unit Study Planner with Marine Fish Unit Study Planner, and or, purchase NatureGlo's eScience Shark Unit Study, you'll have some great tools to get your child started. Marine Biology is one of the most fascinating and exciting sciences in the world. Some of my homeschool learners over the years are in college for Marine Biology. It will be exciting to see them help shift the tide of our seas health for future generations of people and animals to come. Don't underestimate the power of fueling your littles interest in the marine world for a better tomorrow for all our marine animal friends and family.

Happy Marine Biology unit studying!

Talk soon,