Ocean activism and you!


What does water mean to you? Learners will immerse themselves in a series of creative activities aimed at deepening their relationship with water and reflecting on its importance to our lives. Through interactive games and exercises, they will explore different perspectives on water and visualize their personal connection to it. Then, they will brainstorm what they can do to celebrate the ocean and plan for Ocean Week Canada which takes place around World Ocean Day (June 8)!

Although these activities are meant to get students excited to participate in Ocean Week Canada, our friends outside of Canada can also use this lesson! We want everyone to feel inspired and join the global movement to protect water for generations.

Water quality testing and shoreline cleanup at Brewer Park for Ocean Week Canada 2023!

Recommended grades

These activities are great for all grades! We’ve included tips to adapt them to younger and older audiences.

Learning outcomes

  • Creatively express thoughts and feelings related to water.
  • Describe the relationship between water, humans, and life.
  • Compare different cultural perspectives on water and the ocean.
  • Make meaningful connections between water and their community.
  • Devise creative ways to raise awareness, advocate, and take action to honour water in their community, including planning for Ocean Week Canada.

Creative session: Water reflections

Location: In the classroom


  • Large sheets of paper and pens
  • Coloured pencils or markers
  • Your imagination!


This preparation is optional but encouraged! These activities are a great opportunity to incorporate Indigenous perspectives and teachings on water, promoting decolonized teaching practices. Check out our lesson resources at the bottom of the page for videos and supporting resources on Indigenous knowledge and stories regarding water. We’ve listed several videos that are suitable for different ages. You can choose a few to watch with your class before engaging in the activities to expand their perspectives on cultural views on water. This is especially helpful for Activity 2.

This curriculum bundle created by Jessica Naziel (Witsuwit’en) through the University of British Columbia provides great support to non-Indigenous teachers to sensitively work with this subject.

Activity 1: Dive into your senses

Objective: Awaken your senses and spark creative energy by moving like water!

Duration: 15-30 minutes.

Setting the scene

Our senses are important! They help us to feel and understand the world around us, and can help us to experience water in different ways. Let’s start with a sensory exercise to ground us into the present moment.

Teacher tip!

For younger learners, simplify the activity by focusing on one or two senses at a time. You can also incorporate storytelling or play an ocean soundscape to engage their imagination.

Everyone can close their eyes and focus on their senses. Think about what you hear, touch, taste, and smell while you experience water. Breathe in for 4 seconds and out for 8 seconds while asking:

  • What do I feel when I think of water?
  • What do I smell when I think of water?
  • What do I hear when I think of water?
  • What do I see when I think of water?
  • What do I taste when I think of water?

Time to move!

Thinking about the sensations you imagined, act out how water moves. You can flow, swirl, splash, crash, add sounds, and interpret your senses through movement. You can also act out how water makes you feel, or emotions you want to express through water.


Gather participants for reflection.

  • How do your senses help you understand water?
  • Encourage sharing of any emotions or memories around water that the activity brought up.
  • Invite participants to express any other feelings through art, writing, or more movement.

Activity 2: Explaining water to an alien friend

Objective: Expand on the concept of water and humans’ relationship through alien-human role-playing!

Suggestions for enrichment

Check out the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition’s (COLC) Coastal Stories video collection to learn about the importance of place-based knowledge and community connection to water. Use it as a way to deepen reflections on humans’ relationship to water!

Blue learning lab video collection

Duration: 30-45 minutes.

Imagine a friendly and curious alien friend visiting Earth for the first time. They are fascinated by the vast blue ocean covering 70% of the planet but need your help understanding what water is all about. Can you be their guide through this watery adventure?


Learners can pair up, with one acting as the alien and the other the human. They can change roles halfway through and/or switch partners so everyone gets to play each role.

Define the concept:

Teacher tip!

Encourage young learners to explore water through the alien’s perspective creatively. Instead of formal questions, prompt them to share their thoughts on water through storytelling, movement, drawing, or simple water experiments.

  • What would you want to know about water if you were an alien?
  • Where can water be found on Earth?
  • How does water look and feel to humans? (remember your senses!)

Expressing relationships:

  • How does your daily life depend on water?
  • Why do living things, including humans, need water to survive?
  • How is water used in your community?

Teacher tip!

Encourage older students to dig deep into cultural perspectives, examining inequities, dominant worldviews, access to clean drinking water, spirituality, stewardship, legacies of colonialism, and more.

Exploring perspectives:

  • How do different cultures view and use water?
  • What are some ways water is used around the world?
  • How have societal and cultural factors influenced our relationship with water?

Closing the discussion:

  • Do you both agree that water is important for life on Earth?
  • As the alien, what advice would you give humans on how to treat water respectfully?
  • As a human, how do you think we should value and protect water for our planet’s future?


Reflect on your water exploration journey with your alien friend. Share any new thoughts or feelings that emerged during the activity.

Take 3 minutes to doodle and write about water. You can express how you feel after the activity, draw your favourite marine animal, a peaceful ocean scene, or a simple water droplet. Remember, in art, there are no wrong answers—just your unique perspective!

Activity 3: Personifying water and our connection to it

Objective: Create a personification of water to deepen understanding and visualize its role in our lives.

Duration: 30-45 minutes.

Let’s bring water to life by giving it human-like characteristics. Imagine water as a living character with its own personality and habits. What would water look, feel, and even sound like if it were alive? Is it gentle like a soothing breeze, or powerful like a roaring waterfall? Take a moment to reflect on these questions as you create your water character. You can take notes and draw ideas.

  • What would water look like as a character? Is it gentle, powerful, or mysterious?
  • How does water feel? Is it calm, refreshing, or unpredictable?
  • Can water experience emotions like tiredness, anger, or sadness? How would it express them?
A digital image created using AI that depicts a woman in a large bubble with lots of bubbles around her, on a shore with people to her right and a ship to her left.
You can also create digital art of your water character. Here’s ours using AI!

Share your art with us!

Tag us on Instagram @the_waterrangers or X @water_rangers for your artwork to be featured in our Ocean Week gallery!

Creating a web of water interdependence

Draw your character! Visualize an image that reflects how water connects us all. It could be a web or a scene; it can include stages such as water production, use, and disposal, you can also think about the water cycle and water in its different forms — or whatever you like! Incorporate your water character into your illustration, showing how it interacts with different parts of water production and use.

Where you fit in

And now, draw yourself into the picture! Think about your personal connection with water, its impact on your daily life, and the actions you can take to preserve and protect water. Write or draw any ideas on how you can contribute to the well-being of your water character and the water cycle. Imagine yourself working with your water character, how are you helping them?

Reflection questions

  • How has your perception of water changed through this activity?
  • What parts of the activities did you find challenging?
  • What are you grateful for after exploring these creative exercises?
  • How do you plan to honour and celebrate water and the ocean in the future?

From awareness to action

After immersing yourself in creative activities that highlighted the importance of water, it’s time to channel that inspiration into real-world impact. As we gear up for Ocean Week Canada, consider how you can use your creativity and passion to become an ocean activist!

Planning for Ocean Week: From reflection to action

Location: You can plan in the classroom, but try to get outside for your Ocean Week activity!

Objective: Brainstorm how to participate in Ocean Week Canada and apply for Water Rangers’ grant.

Many people, especially inland, don’t realize that they’re connected to the ocean…

We are all connected to the ocean! Whether inland or on the coast, all the water flows into the ocean, and we need a healthy ocean to survive. Our relationship with water and in turn the ocean, is fundamental to our existence and well-being. We are all stewards of the environment and we have a responsibility to protect and preserve the earth for current and future generations. When we learn about the ways humans are causing environmental harm, we may feel urged to speak up. Activists bravely challenge the status quo and use their voices to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change for a better world. Ocean activism plays an important role in raising awareness about water conservation, addressing pollution, and advocating for sustainable practices to keep marine ecosystems safe.

Awareness → Advocacy → Action

You don’t need to become an activist to make a change! The vast threats the ocean faces may feel overwhelming, but it simply starts with YOU. Your inspiration can cause a ripple effect. You can think of it in three levels of ocean-water-climate action: awareness, advocacy, and action.

Awareness is about our understanding and consciousness about the problems we face. The first step to solving a problem is being aware of the problem. By identifying the issues at hand and their impact on our communities, we can educate and engage folks in different ways, like art and media to prompt individuals to think about ocean-water-climate-related problems and how they affect them!

Advocacy is a movement that seeks to influence peoples’ perspectives and support a particular cause. It’s all about mobilizing together to push for policies that protect the environment! When we collectively organize and campaign about issues we care about, we can put pressure on decision-makers to act according to our values.

Action is the foundation of the movement — our individual and collective efforts to combat ocean-water-climate issues. At an individual level, behavioural changes can look like taking shorter showers, using non-toxic cleaning products, or air drying your clothes. At the community level, community-based water monitoring and restoration projects steward local water bodies and provide valuable data to advocate for protecting our ecosystems. All these actions are part of a global movement to protect water — like the UN Ocean Decade from 2021-2030.

Ocean Week Canada

Ocean Week Canada, held during World Ocean Day week, is a national initiative dedicated to engaging communities in activities that highlight the significance of our oceans. Led by the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition (COLC), this annual celebration aims to raise awareness, inspire action, and deepen our understanding of ocean issues across the country.

Celebrate Ocean Week Canada with your own Tiny Testkit! Shop here

Brainstorming for Ocean Week Canada

Encourage students to brainstorm ideas for Ocean Week Canada that align with the themes of awareness, advocacy, and action. Here are some suggestions to kickstart the brainstorming session:

  • Water monitoring: Invite folks to test water with you! Your impact comes not just from collecting data, but also from the action you encourage in others.
  • Shoreline clean-up: Participate in local beach clean-ups to make a visible impact.
  • Wetland restoration planting: You can help restore vital ecosystems with wetland planting! Check out this link for native plant seeds.
  • Get educated: Host an event or support an organization that promotes water conservation and educates the public about oceans and sustainability.
  • Artistic projects: Express your passion for ocean conservation through art like mural painting, photography exhibits, or storytelling events.
  • Host an ocean-themed event: Take an activity and make it ocean-themed! Celebrate our shared connection in style by wearing an ocean-themed costume.
  • Group paddles and waterway exploration: Organize group paddles or waterway exploration activities to connect with nature and appreciate the beauty of water ecosystems.

Psst… want some swag?

Explore our store for more Ocean Week merchandise, including t-shirts, crew necks, hats and tote bags.

Browse the shop

Apply for a mini-grant and dive into action!

Ready to make a splash during Ocean Week Canada? Apply for the Water Rangers mini-grant by March 31, 2024, and use our equipment to bring your ocean conservation ideas to life. All events from May 1 to June 30 celebrating our connection to the ocean are eligible. You can organize an activity publicly or privately or find an event near you!

Apply for our mini-grant here

Park runners in one of our themed parkruns for Ocean Week 2023!

Real world connections

Indigenous peoples are the original stewards of Turtle Island, including where is colonially known as Canada, and have lived in communion with the Earth since time beyond record. It is important to recognize how colonization attempts to separate Indigenous peoples from the land and undermine their stewardship of these lands. Now more than ever, championing Indigenous leadership in ocean activism is crucial for our progress as all people and cultures must re-evaluate our responsibilities to respect and protect the sacredness of our planet.

The Great Bear Sea, covering over 10 million hectares along the coast of British Columbia, is a crucial marine ecosystem supporting wildlife and First Nations communities for generations. Despite its significance, the sea faces threats from overfishing, shipping, and climate change, endangering biodiversity and community well-being. In response, First Nations have developed a strategic plan for a Marine Protected Areas Network. Backed by First Nations and government leaders, this network aims to establish protected areas to conserve habitats, restore fish populations, and safeguard the sea’s biodiversity and cultural significance for future generations.

Learn more about the Great Bear Sea

Curriculum links

Check out our curriculum connections to see how these activities fit into the curriculum of various provinces.

Lesson resources

Picture books: The Water Walker by Joanne Robertson, We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by Rochelle Strauss

Honouring Water with the Leq’á:mel First Nation – BC Hydro – Kindergarten to Grade 3

Land Needs Guardians – Indigenous Water Guardians Stories [Video series] – Grades 4-8

Water – Decolonizing Teaching, Indigenizing Learning

Coastal Stories – Blue Learning Lab

Additional activities

Check out the Change Makers Series by our friends at the Great River Rapport, with activities designed for youth to step into the shoes of inspiring individuals who are changemakers in their communities. Water You Designing? features our very own Kat Kavanaugh!