Lesson Plans & Activities

Utilize these interactive lesson plans and activities with students to learn and gain a better understanding of whales, the impacts whales face, and the role we have in protecting these species.

ocean noise diagram

How Increased Ocean Noise Affects Whales

Hands-on activities and a selection of videos will show students in grades 3-5 how increasing ocean noise affects whales and their ability to communicate with each other. Students will learn how whales communicate, how sound travels in waves, and how sound travels faster in water than in air. Students will also learn how the deployment and recovery of acoustic mooring devices help scientists measure ocean noise.

A whale tale rises from the water

Sanctuary Splash: Acoustics of Cetaceans

Students will experience listening to whale vocalizations and will participate in simulations of sound perception and efficiency of sound transfer through matter. Students will also gain a basic understanding of how sounds are measured and recorded when studied in a marine environment, and how various cetacean species communicate and are identified by the vocalizations they make.

diagram comparing the lenght of a whale to a person

Humpback Whales 101

This 30-minute video gives teachers ideas and support materials to help teach a lesson about the basic biology of a humpback whale. How big is a humpback whale? Why do they migrate from Alaska to Hawai‘i and back again? Learn how to draw a humpback whale to scale as you learn about the biology.

Lesson Plan

undersea drawning

Humpback Whale Threats and Adaptations

This 30-minute video gives teachers ideas and support materials to help teach a lesson about unique adaptations that humpback whales have that help it survive. Why is blubber important? How are they able to catch a ton of food a day? How do scientists disentangle a humpback whale that entangled in fishing gear?

Lesson Plan

poster with many whale tail drawings

Ocean Spotlight Episode 3

This 12-minute video will explore fun activities about humpback whales hosted by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Education Coordinator.

orca pod swimming

Saving the Southern Resident Killer Whales

News headlines about the Southern Resident killer whales are often bleak. When students are flooded with media coverage of environmental destruction, they can experience chronic anxiety. So, how can we inspire young people to become environmental stewards when they are inheriting seemingly insurmountable problems—like saving a critically-endangered marine mammal from extinction?

orca popping it's head out of the water

Orphan Orca: Saving Springer

This curriculum introduces killer whale biology, research, and management through the story of Springer, the young killer whale who was found orphaned in the Puget Sound in 2002. It illustrates how NOAA, the community, and many other agencies in both the United States and Canada worked together to reunite Springer with her pod. One goal of the curriculum is to encourage students to become stewards of their environment through the knowledge they gain about the issues faced by killer whales.

screenshot of the document

Understanding Threats to Humpback Whales

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary protects humpback whales and their habitat in Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i is the only state in the U.S. where humpbacks breed, calve, and nurse. Although scientists believe humpbacks are making a comeback in the North Pacific, threats still exist.

drawing of a humpback whale

Humpback Whale Trivia

Test your knowledge with humpback whale trivia with these questions.

word search

Humpback Whale Word Search

Learn more about Humpback Whales and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary through this word search.

humpback whale

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Activity Book

Use this activity book to learn about who the sanctuary helps protect Hawai‘i’s humpback whales and the ocean wilderness through research, education, conservation and stewardship.

coloring book page

The Kohola and the Kolea Coloring Book (in English & Hawaiian)

A coloring book and story about the cultural importance of humpback whales in Hawai’i.

humpback whle maze

Humpback Whale Maze Activity

Find a migration route from the waters of Alaska to the protected waters of the Hawaiian Islands with this maze.

Connect the dots activity

Humpback Whale Connect the Dot Activity

Connecting the dots to complete the humpback whale is a great activity for young children working on their numbers..