Oceans: Free Reference Books, Readers & Activities

Last Updated on May 5, 2024 by TrayKay

The following are some free resources you can use to build a unit of oceans activities and lessons. To get an idea of how to structure your study, you can use a reference source, choose the topics you want to include, and then cover them as lightly or as deeply as you like.

One good reference site you can check out is PebbleGo. Click over to the site and enter username: hebisd and password: hebisd for free access. The site has information on oceans, which includes sections on what oceans are, ocean zones, ocean plants and animals, coral reefs, and oceans of the world. Any of these sections could be used as a basis for a unit study of its own, or as part of a larger oceans study.

Here are some addtional free resources broken down into sections that you can use to build your ocean study:

Overview and World Oceans

National Geographic has a short oceans overview article.

CK-12: Importance of the Oceans lesson

OLogy: Marine Biology overview

Ocean Zones

From the sunlit surface layer to the dark ocean floor, use these free resources to learn about the characteristics of each zone and the animals that live there.

CK-12: Ocean Zones lesson includes article, video, discussion questions, and online practice.

WorldAtlas: This article describes ocean zones and includes several diagrams.

Ocean Animals

Have fun researching your favorite ocean animals, learning about habitats, diet, physical characteristics, and behavior. NatGeo’s Ocean Portal is a good place to start.

Here are some more free reference e-books:

In the Ocean: This book is all about the microorganisms in the ocean, like plankton and algae.

Sharks and Other Deadly Ocean Creatures: A DK visual encyclopedia.

Here’s a book on Sea Turtles and one on Sea Cucumbers.

For littles, here are some e-books from the Spot Ocean Animals series:

Sea Turtles
Sea Stars

For elementary readers, here are some e-books from the Curious About Wild Animals series:


More free marine animal e-books:
In the Ocean
Do You Really Want to Meet an Octopus?
NatGeo Explorer
Under the Sea
Marvelous Marine Mammals
Whales of the World
Aquatic Alphabet Reader

Ocean’s Role in the Water Cycle

Water Cycle Interactive Tutorial: Explains how all the water on Earth is connected through the water cycle. Includes practice questions.
Earth’s Water: 2nd grade reader

Ocean Conservation

Learn about the importance of protecting the ocean and its inhabitants by reducing pollution.
This National Geographic Explorer magazine issue has an article on plastic pollution.
For more on plastics, visit this National Geographic interactive, Sea to Source, which lets you follow the plastic drinking bottle.
Learn something about Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) with this National Geographic interactive, The ABCs of MPAs.

Ocean Exploration

This Ocean Exploration site includes information on the history of ocean exploration, modern technology used, and ocean explorers.

These free DK reference books can also be used to help structure an ocean unit study:

oceans activities: visual encyclopedia

Our Watery World


Layers of the Ocean: worksheet and answer key


The Ocean Extras workbook includes notebooking pages, and oceans activities, including marine food chains, tide pools, ocean zones, Jacques Cousteau, and sea creatures

oceans activities: ocean extras workbook
Get Resource

Ocean Animal Research Worksheet

Marine Food Pyramid

Ocean Food Web Reader


Watch Weird Sea Creatures Video

Cross-Curricular Oceans Activities

Language Arts:
Five Idioms for Ocean Lovers
Sea Fever: poem analysis and worksheet

Ocean Word Problems: simple word problems; includes fish cutouts
Underwater: word problems with answer key

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