Dolphin Unit Study


Teach pre-schoolers through elementary schoolers about dolphins with this dolphin exploration.  Dolphins are really interesting mammals, especially when it comes to their interactions with humans.  They are incredibly friendly and trainable, so we can observe them and their behaviors.  They are used by the military to find mines, by many resorts that allow you to go swim and interact with them, and by Sea World and other similar attractions for shows.  They do amazing tricks.  Because they are so cooperative, humans have almost adopted them like pets in many scenarios, but they still mostly live in the wild.  Even those who haven’t been trained tend to be friendly to humans.


Fabulous Facts About Dolphins:

  • Dolphins are mammals, they breath air, feed their young milk, are warm blooded, and have hair on their bodies.
  • Dolphins make clicking and squealing noises to communicate.  You can approximate a dolphin’s whistles with a balloon by letting the air out slowly with the neck stretched.
  • Dolphins like humans and can be trained to do everything from tricks in an aquarium to carrying the mail for underwater research labs.  Some dolphins have been trained to swim with handicapped children.
  • Dolphins can stay under water for fifteen minutes at a time.
  • If a dolphin gets sick or injured, other members of its family help it swim and get breaths of air until it can swim on its own.
  • Dolphins work together to protect the group from predators like sharks.
  • Dolphins use echolocation to find food.
  • Dolphins eat fish and squid.

Dolphin Projects

  • Do one of these dolphin crafts or one of these.
  • Write a report about dolphins. Do it on dolphin shaped paper.  Have the kids include three to five dolphin facts.  Older kids can also include the scientific names of dolphins and different facts about different types of dolphins.
  • Learn about the anatomy of a dolphin.  Label a dolphin with the names of its parts, more detail for older kids.
  • Look at some fine art featuring dolphins from Wyland, a modern undersea artist, or Martin, a Modern British artist who focuses on dolphins.  Or check out some ancient art from Knossos, in the Mediterranean south of Greece.  This dolphin mural was excavated and subsequently restored.
    Ben Pirard from nl [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Watch some dolphin training videos on YouTube.

 Books About Dolphins

Read a book about dolphins.

DolphinsNational Geographic Readers: DolphinsDolphins! (Step into Reading, Step 3)Dolphins (Smithsonian)

 Additional Layers

  •  Dolphins and whales are very similar, some even say dolphins are just little whales.
  • Learn more about the palace at Knossos and the art found on the walls there.
  • Make a chart showing the differences between mammals, birds, fish, and insects.
  • If you live near an aquarium take a trip to visit dolphins in person.


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