Coral Reef Ecosystems
Lesson Plans & Activities

Coral reef invistigation

Investigating Coral Bleaching

Coral reefs are one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet. In this module, students will use real data to investigate the consequences of rising sea surface temperature on coral reefs. They will also consider the importance of coral reefs in their own lives.

diver searching

Coral Restoration in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

Students will research the ecology of coral reefs, natural and anthropogenic threats to corals, and the science of coral restoration. In pairs, students will design and make an argument for a proposed new coral nursery to be placed within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS).

Coral constructors

Coral Constructors

This activity compares coral growth with building construction to help students understand the benefits of different coral shapes for survival.

Why Hawaiis ocean is important

Why is Hawaii’s Ocean Important? Activity Book

An activity book that features the importance of coral reefs to the Hawai’i marine environment through coloring, a word search, a matching game, and more.

Coral reef mural

Help Nemo Find His Home!

This lesson focuses on understanding the impacts of ocean acidification on the olfactory senses of clownfish. Students will be able to define ocean acidification and understand how specific species such as the clownfish may be affected by the increasing acidity of the ocean.

Anatomy of coral polyp

Anatomy of a Coral Polyp

Explore this resource of a labeled coral polyp diagram to learn more about the anatomy of corals.

Coloring page of a coral reef

Coral Polyp Splitting Coloring Page

Here is a coloring page resource that demonstrates the asexual reprodution of coral polyps.

Virtual dive activity

Virtual Dive Activity in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

Jump into the waters of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary through this virtual diving experience!

Close up picture of a coral reef

Coral Up Close

This activity will introduce students to the multi-faceted biology of reef-building corals--animals that are also part plant and part mineral. Students will turn their own hands into coral polyp models and learn about the special symbiotic relationship that enables corals to survive.

Dome coral reef

Long-Term Reef Monitoring

This activity will introduce students to the methods used for evaluating underwater habitats and the kinds of information that can be learned from those efforts.

Fish in coral reef

Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Monument Coloring Pages

These are some of the coloring pages from the Papahānaumokuākea National Marine Monument that explain the reef environment at different times of day, how reefs are formed, and more.

Diver with fishes and coral reef

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Coloring Page

This coloring page represents the biodiverse coral reef systems found in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

Coral reef mural

Paint a Reef Mural

In this lesson, students will learn about different types of animals that inhabit a coral reef environment, then work cooperatively to construct a mural that depicts a coral reef scene.

Coral reef crossword

Flower Garden Banks Coral Reef Crossword Puzzle

This crossword puzzle will help students learn about coral ecosystems in the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in an engaging way!

Coral reef crossword

Marine Osteoporosis

In this lesson students will explore the effects of acidic oceans on certain marine organisms, in the ocean food web, and to humans. Students will conduct a science experiment using the scientific method to see the effects of increased acidity on certain species.

Coral reef Word seach

Coral Reef Word Search

This reef word search features important marine related vocabulary words for students to learn in this entertaining activity.

Coral reef at night

Coral Spawning Globe

This activity models the appearance of the mass coral spawning event that takes place at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary every August. The result is like a snow globe in which the “snow” floats up instead of down, and the scene is a model of a coral reef.

Diver near a coral reef

Coral Checkup Lesson Series

The Coral Check-up Lesson Series introduces students to coral reef monitoring and ecology through virtual real world experiences focused in the Hawaiian archipelago. Students use NOAA and NOAA partner data and resources to assess coral bleaching impacts, immersing themselves in a worldwide effort to protect and conserve coral reefs.

Large boulder of starlet coral in the sanctuary

Coral Cores: Ocean Timelines

Most people are familiar with the growth rings seen in tree cross sections, but few are aware that similar growth patterns are visible in skeletons of reef-building corals. This activity will introduce students to these growth patterns and what they can tell us about the environment in which the corals live.

drawing of fish swimming over a coral reef

Coral Word Search

Engage students through this engaging word search activity to learn more about coral reef ecosystems.

school of tang fish swimming over a coral reef

NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystems Resource Collection

Education resources are distributed across many websites and program offices at NOAA and partner websites. This portal is designed to help you access these resources from one location. Materials are organized by themes aligned with common teaching topics. Explore the larger NOAA resource collection on coral reef ecosystems.

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