Life in a seagrass meadow

Lesson overview

Visit the seagrass meadows around Sicily and learn how to classify the huge variety of creatures that live there. This is the first of three lessons in this unit that look at an individual blue carbon habitat in more detail.

Learning outcomes
  • Identify features of the seagrass habitat and its life
  • Discover how life can be grouped based on observable features
  • Use classification (and keys) to group life in seagrass meadows

See the Fact Sheet All about seagrass for background information on seagrass as well as the online Teacher Update on How to teach classification.

Lesson steps

1. Introduction to seagrass and Sicily (10 mins)

Use slides 2 to 5 to connect to the previous lesson’s learning if you have taught this, then introduce the learning objectives to the class. This section then moves on to an overview of seagrass meadows. This is the first blue carbon habitat that students will study in depth.

This section introduces Sicily as the geographical focus for this lesson. All the animals that are covered in this lesson can be found in the seagrass around the smaller islands off the coast of Sicily. Use slides 12 and 13 to see whether students can locate it on a map or atlas. Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean.

2. Scientific classification (10 mins)

The idea of scientific classification is the focus of the science learning for this lesson. Teachers who are not familiar with this topic should read the Teacher Update How to teach classification. In essence, it is about grouping life based on shared features or characteristics. Some of these features are not always readily visible, so slide 15 prompts a plenary discussion on how the building blocks shown could be grouped. Colour, shape, and size are some obvious methods that students may use. There is no right answer here, just the chance to have students think about classification.

The next step is to look at how students may classify living things using slide 16. Again at this point, there is no need to correct students as to what might be scientifically correct. Students could use shape, colour, or other features. Slides 17 to 19 then lead into an exposition about how scientists classify animals, with the main distinction between animals with a backbone (vertebrates) and those without (invertebrates). The basic diagram on slide 19 shows the classification system that will be used during this lesson. It does not follow the exact classification system of kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species used in taxonomy (the science of identifying and naming life) but is a good intermediate step for studying the main groups of life in the seagrass and across many ocean habitats.

3. Classifying seagrass life (30 mins)

The central activity for this lesson is a card sort. There are three sets of cards that will need distributing to student groups. A group size of four is optimal. Hand each group cut up sets of:

  • Student Sheet Classification cards
  • Student Sheet Animal feature cards
  • Student Sheet Seagrass life cards

The classification cards contain the names of the main groups of animals that will be studied during the lesson. Animal feature cards contain the main characteristics of each of these groups. Last, seagrass life cards show examples of some of the life found in seagrass meadows.

Review the content of these classification cards using slides 22 to 29, and the content of the seagrass life cards using slides 30 to 45. Then go through the instructions for the activity on slide 46.

Depending on the ability of your class, you may need to model some of the selections to start with. Students should start with the classification cards and then the animal feature cards. Make students aware that there is more than one card for certain features, e.g. cold blooded. This is because more than one group of animals can share certain features or characteristics. Then students should assign the seagrass life cards to the different classification groups.

Review this activity using slides 47 to 55 for the animal feature cards, and 56 to 71 for the seagrass life cards.

4. Review learning (10 mins)

The Student Sheet Classifying seagrass life and the advanced version can be used as a summative individual assessment activity to consolidate learning and introduce the use of keys. The advanced version adds the step of working out which animal group should appear in the different sections of the key. There are two slides, slide 72 for a basic version and slide 73 for a more advanced version. Delete the slide that you are not using.