1 hour

Build sandcastles with a difference - students will work in teams to build some popular marine creatures. They will learn about various body parts of the creature they build, and the functions of these parts. They will also learn about the local area where they are completing their activity and discuss some of the items they find washed up on the beach.

Activity outline

This is a hands on activity that requires students to work in small groups (3 – 6 students).

This activity takes place at a local beach (e.g. Hillarys Beach in the Metropolitan area). You should confirm with your school principal as to whether they deem it to be a water-based activity. At no point during the activity will the students be permitted to enter the water. It is the responsibility of the school to ensure that adequate numbers of appropriately trained staff accompany the excursion should it be deemed a water-based activity.

The activity begins with a discussion about the beach you are visiting – if it is within a marine park, a dog beach, what it is adjacent to, and any other points of interest. We will also discuss some of the flotsam and jetsam washed up on the beach within the immediate vicinity.

Students will be placed in small groups and allocated a creature card – e.g. bony fish, shark, octopus. Working within their group, students will be required to build an anatomically correct sandcastle of their allocated marine creature. On the reverse side of their creature card groups will find some fun facts about their organism. The Community Education Officer facilitating your activity will discuss the information with each group so that they can then teach their fellow classmates about their animal.

Upon completion of your sandcastle building, students will gather as a class where each group will present their creation and a short presentation of what they have learnt about their animal.

School beach activity


Background information on beach flotsam and jetsam can be found in the Beachcombers Field Guide.

It is expected that prior to attending this excursion, you will have had a discussion with your students about beach safety. This will be reinforced by Departmental staff faciliting your excursion on the day.



  • Conduct some further research on the creatures that students made sandcastles of. Ask students to give a short presentation or create a poster to deliver their information.
  • Conduct a beach walk with your class, or ask students to bring beach washed specimens into the classroom. See if students can classify items based on similar characteristics. Use the Beachcombers Field Guide to assist you with identifying your specimens.
  • Explore the impact of marine debris on the marine environment. You may wish to use the Presentation: Harmful marine debris and/or the Fact Sheet: Marine debris
  • Design your own underwater organism. Plan your design and list its features – how does it move? how does it eat? where does it live? what sort of body covering does it have? Can you classify any of the creatures together based on their characteristics?
  • Play a class game of Ocean Bingo!
  • Use the Poster: A Balancing Act to discuss all of the users of the marine environment, the impact they may have and how they are managed.



anal fin, anatomy, antenna, carapace, cartilage, caudal fin, dorsal fin, lateral line, mantle, marine debris, marine park, operculum, pectoral fin, pelvic fin, pleopods, seaweed, sea wrack, siphon, spiracle, ventral fin, tentacle, fish, bony fish, crab, shark, octopus, turtle, group work.