Alaska Sea Grant

Investigation 2 - Sea Soup

Class Time Required

2-3 class periods

Materials Needed
  • This is the Sea That Feeds Us by Robert F. Baldwin
  • Sea Soup by Mary Cerullo
  • Sea Soup recipe copies for students PDF
  • Marine Lotto PDF
  • Freshwater Lotto PDF
  • Science notebooks
  • sequins, spangles, beads
  • jars
  • plankton nets
  • water tubs
  • local field guides or identification keys for rocks, shells, etc.
  • Inflatable globe
  • Flannel board and felt for cutouts
  • Lotto cards and Lotto Boards
  • Blue/green fabric sheet or butcher paper
  • Paper cups
Teacher Preparation

Gather materials and prepare flannel board cutouts, Lotto cards, and Lotto Boards.

Set up the classroom to provide space for children to explore water centers.

Prior Student Knowledge

Field trips and experience with water outside of school would be useful would help children with this activity. Listening skills.


Living, non-living, phytoplankton, zooplankton

Science GLEs Addressed

K-12 Standards A2, C2, C3

Investigation 2Overview: In this 2-3 day investigation, children begin to learn about the tiny plants, animals, and nonliving things that are in sea, river, or pond water. They listen to a read-aloud, explore at learning centers, roleplay, and then make a recipe for Sea Soup.

Focus Questions:

  • What is in the water around us?
  • How do you know?

Engagement (30 minutes):
Introduce the idea of Sea Soup through a read-aloud: This Is the Sea that Feeds Us by Robert F. Baldwin and/or Sea Soup by Mary Cerullo. Then, lead a discussion and brainstorming session about what is needed to create a recipe for Sea Soup. Support students’ thinking by making a poster, graphic organizer, or bubble chart to record children’s ideas.

Exploration (45 minutes to 1 hour):
Set up the classroom to support learning centers that have to do with Sea Soup:

  1. Water center, with plankton nets that students can use to filter water and see pretend plankton (large sequins or other available objects) in the water.
  2. Water center, with rocks and shells and laminated field guides (such as MACs) or local ID charts.
  3. Globe Toss
  4. Flannel board to retell story, using cutouts of "characters" from the story. 
  5. Lotto game with both living and non-living things represented.(see samples provided)

Explanation (15-20 minutes):
Gather the whole group for a dramatic role play of Sea Soup:

Use green sequins and spangles to represent phytoplankton and different colored sequins, spangles, and beads to represent zooplankton.

  • Invite students to sit around a large blue sheet (paper or cloth) on the floor.
  • Ask the students: "Who are you in a tide pool?" (or Who are you in a river? or a pond?) Each student chooses an animal that they want to be; it must be an animal that eats phytoplankton and/or zooplankton.
  • Explain to them that they must remain sitting in one space, only moving their arms from this space.
  • Sprinkle phytoplankton in the sea and let the "animals" begin "eating" (collecting in a cup) phytoplankton.
  • Next, sprinkle larger zooplankton in the sea and let children "eat" zooplankton.

Describe the sea soup process, reading excerpts from Sea Soup by Mary Cerullo as children collect plankton. Discuss, and encourage students to ask questions: "What are you eating?" "How do they know what to eat?"

Elaboration (20 minutes):
Have the students illustrate, draw, and/or explain the Sea Soup recipe in their science notebooks to show their own seasoupunderstanding of what is in the water around them. To support student success with this independent drawing and labeling activity, you may wish to supply them with cutouts of sea soup ingredients that can be colored or examples to draw from.

Create a checklist based on the expectations for understanding. Make sure the drawing includes water, phytoplankton, zooplankton, the sun, and possibly minerals and salts.

Have children make individual jars of Sea Soup, following a class recipe or one they may have written in their science notebook.

Some possibilities for a recipe include:

A cup of water, salt, glitter (minerals), green sequins and spangles (phytoplankton), multicolored sequins and spangles (zooplankton), breath of air (oxygen), and possibly some blue or green food coloring.

Shake and mix the jar of Sea Soup, to "feed the world"!

Have children explain their thinking about their recipe. "What did they put in the Sea Soup?" How did these creatures feed the world?


Teacher Preparation:

Tips from Teachers

Add another center with an art focus: make bioluminescent zooplankton, prints from shells, rocks, seaweed, etc.

For the evaluation checklist, give visual clues. For example, actually glue green sequins and spangles on to a page to represent phytoplankton and different colored sequins on to the page to represent zooplankton.

Add a dramatization of the sea soup after making the poster. Divide the kids into 2 groups and give each child a part of the sea soup. They then perform for the other half of the class, or even for other classes.

Read through the investigation, including the Teacher Background section.


Gather the materials that you will need.

Make the flannel board cutouts to retell the story, This is the Sea that Feeds Us. You may want to xerox the images from the book to create the cutouts, or create simple images or silhouettes on your own. 

Print and copy the Sea Soup recipe for student posters, or prepare a class-sized poster. See sample Sea Soup recipe poster.

Print and laminate the Lotto Cards. You may use the ones provided here, or create your own. You may want to focus on marine plants and animals, freshwater plants and animals, or sea soup ingredients.

Make and laminate  3-4 Lotto boards. Each board needs to have the same images as the ones on the Animal cards, and the pictures shold be placed differently on each board.

Sample Marine Lotto PDF

Sample Freshwater Lotto PDF

Set up the classroom to provide space for children to explore water centers.

Curricular Connections:

Literacy: Students write their own Sea Soup recipes, supported by a graphic organizer that assists them to color and write.

Ideas for adapting to different local environment or context: For freshwater and Interior environments, change the name of the activity to "River Soup," "Pond Soup," or "Bear Creek Soup" (name it for a local water feature).

Materials Needed for Investigation 2:  

Student Handouts

Science notebooks

(Optional: Sea Soup Recipe PDF)

Marine Lotto PDF

Freshwater Lotto PDF

Items for Group Display

This Is the Sea That Feeds Us by Robert F. Baldwin

Sea Soup by Mary Cerullo

Optional: Class poster template for Sea Soup Recipe

Material Items
  • Sequins, spangles, beads
  • Jars
  • Plankton nets
  • Water tubs
  • Local field guides or identification keys for rocks, shells, etc.
  • Inflatable globe
  • Flannel board and felt for cutouts
  • Lotto Cards and Lotto Boards (see samples)
  • Blue/green fabric sheet or butcher paper
  • Paper cups
Facility/Equipment Requirements 

Classroom space for exploration centers

Alaska Science Grade Level Expectations Addressed:

In Investigation 2, kindergarten students begin to build toward these K-12 Alaska Science Standards:

Science as Inquiry and Process
(A2) develop an understanding that the processes of science require integrity, logical reasoning, skepticism, openness, communication, and peer review.

Concepts of Life Science
(C2) develop an understanding of the structure, function, behavior, development, life cycles, and diversity of living organisms.

(C3) develop an understanding that all organisms are linked to each other and their physical environments through the transfer and transformation of matter and energy.

Essential Question:

  • What are the characteristics of the living and nonliving things you discover in the water?

Enduring Understandings:

  • Living and nonliving things in Alaska waters come in a great assortment of colors, shapes, and sizes.

  • Living things move, grow, and change.

Alaska Sea Grant University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Department of Education and Early Development NOAA