Return to the Wild - Evolving perspectives on Canadian wildlife

Lesson plan: Saving Sea Otters


Grade Level:

Grades 6-8 (middle school)

Time Required:

Two classes


In this lesson, students will become advocates for sea otters in Canada. Students will focus on three areas: Where do sea otters live? What are they like (characteristics)? How can we protect them?

Main Objective

The goal of this lesson is for students to gain an understanding of and an appreciation for sea otters. They will be able to gather facts from various sources and apply their knowledge to identify personal actions that could help save sea otters.

Curriculum Connection

British Columbia, Grade 6

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • Identify the location and range of the sea otter in Canada.
  • Create a bar graph that shows the global sea otter population.
  • Describe sea otter characteristics.
  • Identify the greatest threat to the sea otter , and personal actions that could help with sea otter conservation and protection.




Ask students to brainstorm species of animals found in the Pacific Northwest.

Inform students that they will be learning about one particular species in this lesson. (Ask them to guess from the list if the sea otter was one of the animals identified in the brainstorming session.) Ask them how they feel about the sea otter

To introduce the sea otter to the class, go to the Vancouver Aquarium sea otter YouTube page (see resources for the website). Read the introduction aloud to the students, discuss the term “rafting” and then play the video for them to watch.

Watch the students’ reactions to the video. Ask them if they feel differently after seeing the video clip. Tell the students that they will learn more about sea otters in the following activity.

Distribute the student activity worksheet, an outline map of Canada and a piece of graph paper to each student. Review the instructions as a class. Decide if students will work alone, in pairs or small groups.

Lesson Development

Monitor students and provide assistance as they work through the activity.


Each student will present his/her action plan to the class.



Participate in brainstorming activity.

Guess the animal selected for the lesson.

Discuss feelings about sea otter.

Watch the YouTube sea otter video.

Participate in discussion.

Listen to the instructions for the upcoming activity.

Lesson Development

Complete the activity.


Present plan to class.

Lesson Extension

  • Take students on a field trip to the Vancouver Aquarium. There is an option to book a sea otter Animal Encounter, where students go behind the scenes to learn about and feed the sea otter. 
  • Have a class discussion about ‘cute’ animals and conservation.  Are we more likely to care about conserving animals that are ‘cute’?
  • Students could conduct research to see if there have been any negative effects from reintroducing the sea otter to British Columbia.

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