View all activities

Dive signs game

It’s not easy to speak underwater. We don’t recommend you try to test this out next time you are in the bath or swimming pool. To overcome this challenge, divers have developed a series of hand signals to communicate while underwater. In this activity, you will learn some of the standard dive signs used by professional scuba divers.

Ages 5+

20 minutes

You will need to do this activity with a ‘buddy’. Then go on a pretend dive using this code language to communicate with one another.

Activity Steps

  1. Print the dive signs sheet or simply look at the images in the Dive signs gallery.
  2. Go through each sign and then find a buddy you can practise the sign system with.
  3. Imagine you are in underwater situations and start your pretend dive with your buddy. You could always use a 360 degree reef adventure to make it more realistic.
  4. Play with your friends or in class. An adult can be the moderator who gives instructions (e.g. “something is wrong” or “turn around”) while everyone else tries to do the right sign as fast as possible.
  5. You could eliminate the slowest person at the end of each round.
  6. The remaining 'divers' could think about a need that is not covered by the sign system and suggest a new sign which everyone has to learn next time you play the game. You can include the animal dive signs in the game.

More ideas

Move onto thinking about different dive signs for some of the creatures you might find on the reef. Choose the creatures on the coral reef and see if a friend or family member can guess what they are from your signals. More about this in the Animal dive signs activity.

Safety guidance

  • There are no specific safety notes related to this activity. Note that children should not be encouraged to hold their breath during a pretend dive.

Brought to you by


Coral Oceans Science 7 11 Thumb

Science | Ages 7-11

Coral Oceans

These resources for ages 7-11 are based on the journeys undertaken by science teams taking part in the XL Catlin Seaview Survey expeditions. These resources present a complete scheme of work for the science classroom, covering core science and sustainability curriculum areas as well as enhancing students' creative and communications skills.