Coral Reef Mat, Waseca Biomes

  • Biology, Zoology 6-12
Coral Reef Mat – Waseca Biomes
Grammar Cards and Sentences Strips Included

  • The Coral Reef Mat from Waseca Biomes is an exploration that will inspire children to love and respect sea life. They will appreciate the benefits that we all gain from preserving the coral reefs. They will deepen their knowledge in biology, and refining their skills through the multiple hands-on work offered through the materials. There are 9 presentations that will touch on topics such as plankton, the Animal Kingdom, symbiotic relationships, food chains, energy transfer, grammar, word problem solving and more.
  • I will share a brief illustration of each presentation below. Please be aware that there is much more to each presentation, which should be spread over the course of many weeks.
  • The following link will provide you a $15 discount (referral coupon code) on your purchase at Waseca Biomes.


  • Guide to Presentation, which contains the step-by-step lessons
  • Coral Reef Habitat Mat made of fabric and wooden rods
  • 36 wooden cutouts of animals of the ocean
  • 35 Fact File cards containing prime information
  • Animals Control Chart
  • Food Chain Chart with discs and arrows to show relationships
  • 3 part cards on the Parts of a Coral Polyp
  • Storytelling Sequence cards on the story “The Emperor Has to Wait”
  • Grammar Labels in a wooden box
  • Grammar Sentences Strips in a wooden box
  • Math Word problems in a wooden box

How it works

  • You will need the Guide to Presentation and a few books on Coral Reef and the Plankton for the First presentation. In addition, the Eighth and Ninth presentations will require the Grammar Symbols box. For the first four presentations, use the Animal Control Chart, which follows the order of the presentations. This material offers 9 presentations, so here’s a quick overview:

First Presentation – The Ecosystem

  • We learned about the Coral Reef of Australia, and learned about the crucial existence of the phytoplankton and zooplankton. We placed a few animals, and the Phytoplankton at the top as they seek the sunlight for making their own food.
Coral Reef of Australia, 1200km long

Second Presentation – Coral

  • We read about the parts of a coral using the 3 part cards. The children could relate to their learning of the cnidarians, from the Kingdom of Animals. The 3 part cards explain the function of each part of the Coral Polyp. It was interesting to learn how corals connect to one another. We used our book, Under the Sea from Britannica to deepen our exploration. The children were absolutely amazed at the corals behaviors.
3 Part Cards to learn about the Parts of a Coral Polyp

Third Presentation – Other Invertebrates

  • This presentation helped the children classify invertebrates from vertebrates. Younger children are invited to place the cutouts of animals on the mat, while older children can read the Fact cards and learn more about each animals. We used the icons at the top of each card to determine the phylum of each animal. Again, this was a great use and reinforcement of our study of the Kingdom of animals.
Fact File Cards to read about each animal

Fourth Presentation – Vertebrates

Just as for the Third presentation, this presentation invites children to sort and match the cutouts of vertebrates. Older children can read the Fact file cards, and learn about where each animal lives, and what it eats. More information provides details about the behaviors of the animal that set it apart from others.

Animals Control Chart

Fifty Presentation – Plant and Animal Relationships

  • This presentation is mentally engaging. You will need to build a Food Pyramid and Food chains using the cutouts of animals, the Fact cards, the Energy Transfer Arrows, the Food Chain Chart, and the Relationship Discs.
  • We started building our food pyramid at the bottom with the Plankton. We used the Fact cards and read the section “It eats…” To figure out where to place, or not to place certain animals.
Creating a Food Pyramid of the Plants and Animals
  • We then used the Food Chain Chart to understand how the energy circulates from the Sunlight to the Phytoplankton, to other other consumers.
Creating a food chain using the Food Chain Chart
  • Finally, we looked at how some relationships between living things were either symbiotic, competitive, or neutral. We used the 2 + signs to show a symbiotic relationship (shrimp and fish). We used 2 zero signs to show a no beneficial or detrimental relationship (shark and anemone). We used 2 – signs to show a competitive relationship (two fish).

Sixth Presentation – Storytelling

  • This was one of the favorite presentations. Children read a funny story about the Emperor Angelfish. This story aims to contextualize the relationships between animals in a coral reef. After reading the story twice, we used the cutouts to enact each scene. Children are invited to gather an audience to present the story from memory, using the cutouts and the mat. Engaging with the materials several times has helped understand natural phenomena, and be familiar with complex names of animals.
10 cards for storytelling: “The Emperor Has to Wait”
Stunning Graphics
Re-reading the story cars to match with the illustrations

Seventh Presentation – Grammar Labels

  • This presentation is created for anyone who would like to learn how to use the Montessori Grammar Symbols. The Guide to Presentation will take you step-by-step through a variety of grammar lessons (parts to speech). Children will practice grammar skills and continue to explore the coral reef ecosystem. See pictures below for some examples:
Noun Cards and their symbols (Black triangle)
Adding definite/indefinite article and their symbols (Light blue triangle)
Adding adjectives and their symbols (Dark blue triangle)
Adding verbs and their symbols (Red circle)
Using cutouts to create sentences with prepositions (Green crescent)
Building sentences beginning with an action (verbs).
Then adding subjects and adverbs to ask questions such as “Who did the action?” or “How was the action done?”
Then we demonstrate how we can replace some conjunction words with commas.

Eighth Presentation – Grammar Sentence Strips

  • The Grammar Sentence Strips work is an effective and appealing way for children to practice analyzing and symbolizing parts of speech. You may want to use the Grammar Symbols Box and the Grammar Stencil (sold separately).
  • They begin with the blue sentence strips by retrieving the same words from the Grammar Labels box (word by word). They will use the Grammar symbols to symbolize each word (article/adjective/noun). They can copy this sentence in their notebook, and use a stencil with the grammar symbols to draw the symbols. They will have to capitalize their sentences and add a period at the end.
  • For the red sentence strips, in addition to the work above, children will have an opportunity to enact the action on the sentence strip using the animal cutouts.
  • For the green sentence strips, in addition to the work above, children will use the animal cutouts to reflect the preposition used on the sentence strip.
  • For the orange sentence strips, in addition to the work above, children will use the animal cutouts to perform actions in a specific given manner, which helps understand the purpose of adverbs.
Grammar Analysis
Children can symbolize the words, and color the shapes
From bottom to top: Adjective, Verb, Preposition, Adverb

Ninth Presentation – Word Problems

  • The Word Problem cards are a perfect way to engage learners in math in a contextualized manner. The cards offer 3 levels with increasing challenges. Montessori materials such as the Bank game, or the Stamp game can be used to figure out some problems. Other cards will require knowledge on measurements, while others will involve calculation of area, and units of measurements.
  • I hope this post inspired you. I highly recommend this material for any elementary learners age 6-12. Children will develop an appreciation for coral reefs, learn more about the interdependence of living organisms, and develop critical thinking along the way.
  • Ready for a lesson? Don’t miss the next post on the Tree of Life from Waseca Biomes. Subscribe to receive notifications for the next materials!

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