Coral Reef Animals Poster, Match Up cards – Free printables

You are invited to download the poster and picture cards with different types of coral reef animals – learning printables for preschool and kindergarten children. Use this resource with clear true-to-life images to create hands-on botany activities for your students. This resource will come in handy if you are planning to explore the ocean and coral reef in your Montessori and early childhood classroom.

about coral reef

Coral reefs are beautiful underwater structures made up of tiny animals called coral polyps. Coral reefs are some of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, with thousands of species of fish, plants, and animals calling them home.

Coral reefs are found in warm, shallow waters all around the world, mostly in the tropics. They are made up of millions of tiny coral polyps, which are animals that build their own hard, protective skeletons out of calcium carbonate. These skeletons join together to form a reef.

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Coral reefs are vital to many marine species and help to support millions of people around the world who rely on fishing and tourism for their livelihoods. They also protect shorelines from the effects of storms and erosion.

Unfortunately, coral reefs are under threat due to climate change, pollution, overfishing, and other human activities. It’s important that we do our part to protect these amazing ecosystems for our future generations.

Coral reef animals are fascinating creatures that live in one of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. Here are some facts about some common coral reef animals that are sure to interest kids:

  1. Clownfish: Also known as Nemo from the movie Finding Nemo, clownfish are small, brightly colored fish that live in anemones. They have a symbiotic relationship with the anemone, which provides them with protection and food.
  2. Sea turtles: These ancient creatures have been around for millions of years. They are known for their long lifespan and slow, graceful movements. Some species of sea turtles are endangered, so they need our protection.
  3. Sharks: Many different species of sharks can be found in coral reefs, from the harmless nurse shark to the fearsome great white shark. Sharks are important predators that help keep the coral reef ecosystem in balance.
  4. Stingrays: These flat, stingray-shaped creatures can be found resting on the sandy bottom of the coral reef. They have a unique flattened body shape which helps them move through the water with ease.
  5. Octopuses: These clever creatures are known for their intelligence and problem-solving abilities. They can change color and shape in order to blend in with their surroundings and avoid predators.
  6. Reef fish: There are thousands of different species of fish that live in coral reefs. Some examples include angelfish, butterflyfish, and parrotfish. These fish come in all shapes and sizes and are some of the most colorful creatures in the ocean.

Overall, coral reef animals are a diverse and fascinating group of creatures that are worth learning about. They play an important role in the health and well-being of our planet, and we should work to protect them and their habitats.

Coral reef hands-on activities

  1. Coral Reef Sensory Bin: Fill a sensory bin with blue water beads, ocean animals, and coral reef replicas. Encourage kids to explore the bin, identify the animals and corals and discuss their importance in the environment.
  2. Coral Reef Fishing Game: Create a fishing game by attaching magnets to ocean animal cutouts. Place the animals in a blue bin of water and have the children use a magnetic fishing pole to “catch” them. Teach about how fishing can impact the coral reef ecosystem.
  3. Coral Reef Animal Matching: Create a set of animal cards featuring animals found in the coral reef ecosystem. Have the children match the animals to their corresponding silhouettes on a coral reef board. Discuss the importance of each animal to the ecosystem.
  4. Imaginative Play: Set up an ocean-themed dramatic play area with a boat, scuba gear, and ocean animal puppets. Encourage kids to act out stories and explore the ecosystem through play.
  5. Recycling Craft: Create a coral reef collage using recycled materials such as paper rolls, egg cartons, and cardboard. Talk about how recycling can reduce the impact of pollution on the environment.
  6. Coral Reef Habitat Science Experiment: Place different materials such as sand, gravel, and sea glass in a clear plastic container to simulate the coral reef habitat. Have children observe and discuss the different materials and the impact they have on the organisms living in the ecosystem.
  7. Coral Reef Food Chain Game: Create a food chain game featuring animals found in the coral reef ecosystem. Have children place the animals in their appropriate location on the game board to show the food chain. Talk about how important each animal is to the coral reef ecosystem.
  8. Coral Reef Sensory Bottles: Create sensory bottles filled with blue water, glitter, shells, and coral. Encourage children to observe the bottles and describe what they see. Talk about how the coral reef ecosystem is impacted by pollution, climate change, and global warming.
  9. Coral Reef Painting: Provide a variety of coral reef-themed painting supplies such as sea sponges, stamps, and brushes. Encourage children to create their own coral reef painting and discuss the different animals and plants that are found in the ecosystem.
  10. Coral Reef Story Time: Read books about coral reefs such as “The Brilliant Deep” by Kate Messner or “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’Dell. Discuss the importance of protecting the coral reef ecosystem.

coral reef printable

There are many uses for the printable. One of them is introducing children to new vocabulary and making glue-and-paste activities.

Younger children can be encouraged to match colored animal pictures to the black-and-white version.
Cut animal cards, laminate them, and attach hook and loop dots to add an extra challenge for little fingers. Older children might be inspired to create their own book of animals that are commonly found in the coral reefs, glue cutouts, or draw and label the animals.
You may like to follow Jess’s advice (@raisingmaeve) and enlarge the background. Use adhesive to create this activity for your children.
If you would like to enlarge the background, here is how you can do it. 

Hit Print. Make sure in your Advanced Settings ‘Print As Image’ has been deselected. Then hit ‘Poster’ and set your ‘Tile Scale’ according to how large you would like your poster to be. If you set it at 100%, it will print on two sheets. Trim sheets as needed and connect your poster pieces using scotch tape.

When exploring coral reef creatures with your children you might like to give some of these hands-on activities a go:

1. Make different types of fish using playdough and colorful beads to make scales.

2. Make a sensory bottle or sensory play tub with coral reef animals. Gather blue water beads, food coloring, coral reef Safari TOOB figurines, scooping tools, seashells, and pebbles. Grow beads and fill in a plastic tub with colored blue water and water beads, add tools for pouring and scooping, and loose parts to create an invitation to play. 

3. Turn on classical or lyrical music and add rainsticks for children to play. Give children blue and colorful silk scarves and invite them to improvise dancing to music imitating the sea creatures.

4. Invite the children to play charades demonstrating the life cycles of sea creatures.

5. Discuss in a small group all the different ways children can protect sea creatures in their natural habitat.

coral reef animals

About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.