Plant Evolutionary Ecology Lab



A children’s activity focused on our local coast

Created by Tara Ridleysmaller mail icon

This activity has been created to encourage students' interest interest in Sussex marine habitats. Many different charities focusing on marine habitats have created lesson plans on specific features of the marine environment (including the Dolphin Project, Brighton); however none have been made in accordance with general Sussex marine habitats. I researched similar outreach projects and adapted some of the examples to create specific lesson for Brighton and Hove schools.



The activity involves three tasks, each focusing on different learning objectives. By undergoing activities, I hope the children will be more confident in their understanding of Sussex marine habitats and take an interest in the conservation of Sussex.

The protocol is suited for children in year 7 and 8 (key stage 3), however it can be adapted for different age groups by adding more advanced information and progressive examples in the species food chain.


Keystone species; Top predator; Endangered species; Spores; Nutrient; Habitat; Ecosystem

Learning objectives

By completing the class, the students will be able to:

  1. Acknowledge interesting marine habitats found in Sussex
  2. Identify the species that live in these habitats
  3. Learn and understand the threats to the marine environments
  4. Recognise what we can do to protect and save the habitats

Teacher Handout: Sussex marine habitats


Student prior knowledge:

According to the UK Government national curriculum for Key Stage 2, in prior years to year 7 and 8, the students should have covered the following:

  • Identifying and grouping animals (year 3)
  • Comparing diets of different animals (year 3)
  • Grouping animals depending on what they eat (year 3)
  • Using classification keys to help to group, identify and name a variety of living organisms (year 4)
  • Recognise that environments can change and sometimes pose threats to living things (year 4)
  • Build a variety of food chains, identifying producers, prey, and predators (year 4)
  • Study and raise questions about their local environment (year 5)
  • Observe life-cycle changes in living things (year 5)
  • Find out about the work of naturalists and animal behaviorists such as David Attenborough (year 5)
  • Observing and comparing life cycles of animals in their local environment with other animals found around the world (year 5)
  • Look deeper into the classification system in greater detail (year 6)
  • Recognise that living things have changed over time (year 6)
  • Identify how animals and plants are adapted to suit their environment (year 6)
  • Observing and raising questions about local animals and how they have adapted to their environment (year 6)


Session aims:

To recap knowledge about the local environment and discover the species who live there.

To be able to identify the species who live in the local environments.

Carry out the activities to apply what they have learnt in a fun and interactive way.


Learning objectives:

  • To acknowledge couple of interesting marine habitats found in Sussex
  • To identify the species that live in these habitats
  • To learn and understand the threats to the marine environments
  • To recognise what we can do to protect and save the habitats


Class timings:

Approximately 55 minutes, which would fit into a 1-hour session, leaving 5 minutes to run over parts if needed.

  • Children arrive, register taken: 5 minutes
  • Presentation: 15-20 minutes
  • Introduce activity and set up around the classroom: 5 minutes
  • Activity: 15 minutes
  • Go over answers for worksheet and answer questions: 5 minutes


Materials and Equipment:

Each child will be given a worksheet. The instructions for each activity are written on the worksheet. The last slide of the presentation is also an opportunity to introduce and explain the activities. After the presentation, lay the three activities out over the tables. For each activity, have two lots and place on two tables to reduce crowding.


Safety precautions:

Take care when the children undergo the activity, ensure all chairs and trip hazards are moved or placed out of the way.



      1. Start with the presentation which introduces the Sussex marine habitats. There is a short video narrated by David Attenborough which will engage the students and may prompt them to think about what they have previously learnt about the interactions between organisms and their surroundings.
      2. Throughout the slides, encourage the children to answer questions, even if they are guessing. When there is a slide showing the photos of different species, depending on the class, urge the students to either shout out the answers or put their hands up.
      3. The last slide is the introduction to the activity. Show and explain the worksheet to the students. If available, get a teaching assistant or a student to hand out the worksheets to the students. While the students are reading over the worksheets, answer any questions and lay out the activities.
        • Activity 1: Looking at the silhouettes on the worksheet, write the descriptions that would match that marine animal. The descriptions are on the table. Note down the key features of the animal on your worksheet.
        • Activity 2: On the table there will be photos of different species. On the work sheet list whether you would find the species in a kelp forest ecosystem, or in a chalk coral reef ecosystem, or both.    
        • Activity 3: On the table there will be words of different threats to Sussex marine habitats. Un-jumble the words below to reveal the different threats.
      4. As instructed above, lay out two sets of each activity. Make sure each activity has all the correct print outs and activity title sheets. Scatter the print outs across a table (one table per set of print outs).
      5. Set a timer on the board so the children know how long they have to undergo the activities. For each activity, the children will have 5-7 minutes (this is up to you, depending on the length of the lesson/ how much time is left of the lesson). After the timer is up encourage the students to move to the next activity. Note some activities take longer than others, so the children may move on to the next task, this is fine.
      6. While the children are undergoing the task, make sure to monitor the sheets on the tables, none have dropped on the floor etc. Also, activity 3 (threats to species word jumble) can have the unjumbled words added or removed depending on the class abilities.
      7. At the end of the third timer for the activities, get the students to sit back in their seats and go over the worksheet answers and answer any questions. 
      8. If there is time at the end, go to the dolphin project website and fins the video about what the charity does on Brighton beach, this will make the students excited about local projects. 


Suggestions for assessment:

Finish the class by asking a series of questions, either multiple choice or written. These questions should focus on the learning objectives. Find an innovative way for the children to respond, either via a feedback form or on an online system such as ‘Kahoot’. Ideally, ask two or three content based questions to find out how much the students learnt, and two feedback questions assessing their enjoyment of the activity.