Elly Jelly Looks at Marine Animals

Children's fascination with animals is a perfect starting point for teaching science processes, skills, and information. The world of animals - how they move, eat, protect themselves and so on - presents a wealth of opportunities for observation, reflection, questioning, experimentation and critical thinking. And children engage with this world in ways that motivate them to learn more and to keep learning for years to come.

Elly Jelly Looks at Marine Animals encourages students to learn about marine animals, a new experience for many young children. Elly Jelly has 6 units each contains a Student Story Book, a Teacher's Guide, and a Student Activity Book. Elly Jelly, the program's moon jelly guide, is introduced in the first unit. Right away, she brings alive a world of jellies, corals, and anemones (AKA Cnidarians) to which children (and many adults) have rarely been exposed. Throughout the remaining units, Elly encourages students to think beyond the stories and to ask and answer questions about the animals and ideas they encounter. The Teacher's Guides proved a wealth of cross-curricular activates, including student activity sheets that both reinforce and expand upon the information presented in the storybooks. Literacy is a primary focus of both the stories and the Teacher's Guides.

You do not have to be a science expert to use Elly Jelly in your classroom. You just need to be motivated to explore the awe-inspiring world of marine animals with your students. And along the way you will help them develop the foundation for lifelong science learning and concern about the natural world!

Elly Jelly Looks at Marine Animals was developed by the Bronx Zoo's award-winning Education Department in collaboration with grade 1-3 teachers and administrators, and through funding from an anonymous donor and the National Science Foundation.

Program Components


Units and topics

The units can be used in any order. While Elly Jelly's Surprise covers the topic of cnidarians, novel material for most students, it is a good way to begin the program as it introduces Elly Jelly, as well as many of the concepts (feeding, movement) covered in the other units.

  • Elly Jelly's Surprise - All about cnidarians (sea jellies, anemones, and corals)
  • Big Wilma - Size (sharks vs. whales)
  • The Right Move - Movement (dolphins)
  • The Color Changer - Color and Pattern
  • The Best Defense - Defense
  • The Birthday Feast - Feeding

Parts of the Program

Each unit of Elly Jelly Looks at Marine Animals includes the following:

1. Student Storybook - A spectacularly illustrated 28 page book for students to read to themselves or have read to them. The informational story engages students in a given topic. The books are targeted to a second grade reading level; however, first graders can be read to or can use the stories as learning-to-read tools and third graders will be engaged in the interesting and novel content.

2. Teacher's Guide - 28 page guide, including general information about the unit, Motivational Activities, directions for use of each of the Student Activity sheets, extension activity ideas, and topical resources are also included. The activities are presented in a particular sequence in the Teacher's Guide also includes a Concerning Conservation page that provides information of relevance to the topic of the units.

3. Student Activity Book - reproducible booklet as an appendix to the Teacher's Guide, consisting of activity sheets to be completed with varying amounts of teacher guidance. As noted above, direction for how to use each sheet are included in the Teacher's Guide.

How to Order 
Also available through Acorn Naturalist

Professional Development Opportunities