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Musical Habitats

by Jill Ortiz, National Marine Fisheries Service, Gloucester, Massachusetts


Students will learn about six different marine habitats, the animals that live in each, and the threats to these particular habitats.

Grade Level:

Appropriate for grades K-5.


Six chairs, tape recorder or radio, tape with marine songs, six pictures of marine animals in their appropriate habitats (these should be laminated with strings tied to each and include the name of the habitat on the back), six 5X7 cards to label each chair a particular habitat. Suggested habitat types to use are: Salt Marsh, Sandy Shore, Rocky Shore, Mud Flat, Open Ocean, and Estuary. Suggested Animals that can be used include: Snowy Egret, Sand Dollar, Lobster, Clam, Whale, Juvenile fish.


  1. As a group or class discuss where humans live. Have the students brainstorm various types of homes people live in and various weather conditions people can withstand. Make a correlation between the kinds of homes built in relationship to the area of the country people live. (Example - In Alaska, Eskimos build igloos)
  2. As a group or class discuss each of the six marine animals chosen. Ask the students where they think each animal lives and what particular type of habitat each animal needs. (Remember - sometimes a particular animal can live in more than one type of habitat.)
  3.  Discuss what adaptations each animal has that helps it to survive in that particular habitat. (Adaptations are special characteristics that help an animal live in a particular habitat). The following questions should be considered:
      1. What does the animal eat and how does it get its food?
      2. How does it find a mate and reproduce?
      3. How does it protect itself from predators? (Color, shape, size)
      4. How does temperature and oxygen affect where the animal can live?
  4. Discuss what threats there are to each habitat type and brainstorm solutions to each problem identified. (Pollution, Development etc...)

The Game:

  1. Set up the six chairs back to back in an area where the students will be able to walk around the chairs in a circle. Label each chair a different habitat type.
  2. Pick six students to represent each of the six different marine animals and hang the picture of the animal they represent around their neck. Ask each student to find their appropriate habitat chair and sit or stand by it. Make sure the other children move away from the chairs that are being used for the game.
  3. Remind the six students that they are now pretending to be the animal pictured around their neck.
  4. Have the students walk around the chairs as the music plays but when the music stops they are to find an open chair (habitat) to sit in. Remember to remove a chair each time you play the music. You may want to state what threat is damaging the habitat that you are removing.
  5. At the end of the game, you should see if the remaining student (marine animal) is sitting in the correct habitat type. If they are not, then a discussion on whether that animal could really have survived in the wild should be debated.