Lesson Plan

Find Your Plankton

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Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Literacy and Language Arts,Science
Lesson Duration:
30 Minutes

Essential Question

What are similarities and differences between parents and offspring? How do those differences help parents and offspring to survive?


I can match the offspring to the correct parent.


Plankton are organisms that float in the water and cannot swim against the current. Most are very small, including the larvae (babies) of many ocean animals. They often look very different from the adult stage. Larvae spend varying amounts of time in the plankton stage, from minutes to over a year. 

These larvae will go through metamorphosis, changing into an adult. Again the adult stage of these animals could be very different from the baby/ larvae stage. They could have a variety of other lifestyles. They may be swimmers like fish. They could be sessile (attached to something) such as barnacles. They could also crawl around like the snails, crabs, and sea stars. 

The images and the activity are based on an activity in Deborah Coulumbe's book Seaside Naturalist.


Prep Time: 10 minutes

If a teacher would like a hard copy of these materials, please email the park



In this activity, the students cut out and then match puzzles that show the larvae and the adult forms of 8 coastal animals. The larvae pictures (with no labels) are greatly enlarged. Most are not easily visible without a microscope. 

1. Cut all the straight lines
2. Cut all the bent and curved lines
3. Mix up all the pieces
4. Try to match each baby (larvae) with its parent (adult). 

barnacles and larvae hand drawn imagebrittle worm and larvae hand drawn imagecoral and larvae hand drawn imagecrab and larvae hand drawn imagefish and larvae hand drawn imagesea star and larvae hand drawn imagesnails and larvae hand drawn imagespiny lobster and larvae hand drawn image

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Last updated: February 28, 2019