Do Fish Clean the Ocean?

K, 1, 2

The lesson helps children understand that the plants and animals that live in the ocean depend on a clean environment. They continue to develop the concept of stewardship of the Earth. Children will learn that the animals in the ocean are capable of cleaning a small portion of the ocean, like we clean our  homes, but they need our help to keep the ocean clean too. 

PrintOne Forty-five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • define stewardship as the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to a person’s care.
  • use reading for multiple purposes, such as enjoyment, gathering information.
  • integrate listening, speaking, viewing, reading, and writing skills for multiple purposes and in varied context.
  • Coral Reef Hideaway: The Story of a Clown Anemonefish by Doe Boyle (1995)
  • Chart Paper
  • Journal Paper
  • Pencils
  • Parent Notes
  • Books and magazines to use for research
  • Journals
  • Handout One: Ocean Diorama Family Letter with Internet printout attached
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework: Ask the children to begin thinking about their Ocean Diorama and what they might include. Show them the letter about the diorama that they are going to take home to their families. Discuss with the children that the dioramas will be expected at the end of the unit for evaluation. If there are children who do not have the means to do this project, send home some supplies to help create a coral reef. Remind the children to include ways that people can help take care of the ocean. Access “How to Make a Diorama” on the Internet,, and print the directions. Attach the directions to the letter to be sent home to families at the end of this lesson. (See Handout One: Lesson Two, Ocean Diorama Family Letter)



  1. Anticipatory Set:Review what the children have learned from the previous lessons. Have the children look at the cover of the book, and discuss what they think they might find out in this book. Ask children if they think this is a fiction or non-fiction book. (non-fiction). Briefly differentiate between fiction and non-fiction, and why it helps to know the difference when reading a book.

  2. Begin by showing the cover of the book, Coral Reef Hideaway: The Story of a Clown Anemonefish to the students.

  3. Ask, “What do you think might happen in this book?” As the children give you answers, write them down on the chart paper.

  4. Discuss why they think that might happen. When they have all given their answers, begin reading, Coral Reef Hideaway, and discuss the story as you read.

  5. Ask the following questions:

      1. Where does a clown fish live? (among the anemone sea animals on the coral reef)
      2. Why is Percula unharmed in the sea anemone home? (it appears to be immune to the poison that is in the tentacles in the anemone)
      3. Are clown fish the only fish that cleans?(no)
      4. Why are Percula and her mate safe in their home even when bigger fish and sharks are around their home? (the anemone has a poison in its tentacles that it uses to kills other fish so that it can eat them. The clown Anemonefish is immune to the poison. It eats what’s left after the anemone has finished with the food source)
      5. Do you know where you might find a sea anemone? (on the ocean floor around coral reefs)
      6. What is a coral reef? (living animals)
      7. Does pollution affect the coral reef? (yes, it kills the reef) Why or Why not?
  6. Discuss with the children how a reef is formed. Have materials that are age appropriate available for them to search through or use the internet for find the answers.

  7. Discuss why ocean reefs are important.


The children will write in their journals about the story and how animals help clean the ocean. The teacher will check to see that they have included something about taking care of the ocean environment

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.