Beach Zonation

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In this outdoor, ocean-side activity, learners investigate the distribution of organisms in the upper region of the intertidal zone. Many coastal animals survive long exposures to air, high temperatures, and wave shocks as the tides rise and fall. Working in teams, learners observe animals and plants at low tide to discover the many ways organisms have adapted for survival at the collision of earth and sea.

Quick Guide

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Field Trip


Materials List (per group of students)

  • small flags
  • lumps of clay
  • tide table
  • watch
  • 3 large flags
  • 2 meter sticks
  • 2 poles (4-6 feet long)
  • 2 balls of heavy twine
  • 2 line levels
  • Use of Tide Table Technique Card (in PDF)
  • Determining the Highest Tide Level Technique Card (PDF)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
      • Tides
  • Life Sciences
    • Diversity of Life
      • Plants
      • Animals
    • Ecology
      • Ecosystems
      • Populations
      • Biodiversity
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Gathering Data

Informal Categories

  • Animals
  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity
  • Physical Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



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