Ocean Zones: Fun Study Guide


The ocean is a big, amazing place, teeming with life and largely unexplored! This FREE pdf lesson includes a fun memory help poster, science experiments, and an easy to learn lesson with several unique creatures from each of the ocean zones (epipelagic, mesopelagic, bathypelagic, abyssopelagic). Also included is a study guide with plenty of fun pictures about the ocean floor, including continental shelf, abyssal plain, mid-ocean ridges and trenches!

Memory Tools

Epi sounds like HAPPY to me! I like to think that the fish in this zone are happy because they get the most sunshine. This is why I drew the fish smiling in the epipelagic zone!

Meso sounds like “MESS OF,” so the octopus in the mesopelagic zone is using his many tentacles to clean up the ocean.

Bathy sounds like BATH. The swordfish which can be found in the bathypelagic zone is enjoying a nice bath-uh-bubbles!

Abyss means “bottomless.” This word is use to describe a dark place that seems to go on forever... which sounds like a good description for much of the ocean! Let’s learn some more about this amazing place.

Epipelagic (0 to 656 feet/ 0-200 meters deep)
Epipelagic means “over the sea.” It is also called the Photic Zone, or Sunshine Zone. Epi, which sounds to me like happy, actually means “on” or “over.” This is the top zone of the ocean. I wonder if the fish in this zone are extra happy because they get the most sunshine! This is the only zone where plants can grow, because they need sunlight for photosynthesis.
Most of the animals (90%) that live in the ocean live in this zone, including every type of invertebrate, sea mammals, and a huge variety of fish. Some fish that can be found in the other ocean zones still come up to the Epipelagic zone at night to feed.

Mesopelagic (656 to 3,300 feet/ 200-1,000 meters deep)
Mesopelagic means “middle sea.” It is also called Disphotic Zone, or Twilight Zone. Meso, even though it reminds me of the word mess, it actually means middle. (You might remember this word from another place called Mesopotamia, which got its name from being in the middle of two rivers.) It is also called the disphotic zone, which means “poorly lit.” This zone gets just a little bit of light during the day, but not enough for plants to grow. The temperature of the water is between 41 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit.



Most animals in this zone have large eyes, large teeth and jaws, and are small and thin.
The dragonfish is a smaller fish only about 6 inches long. It has a long body with a light-up lure attached to its head called a “photophore barbel.” It can flash the barbel light on and off and move it around to catch fish. Because many of the fish that it eats are also bioluminescent it has a black opaque stomach so that the fish in its stomach won’t shine while it is digesting! Other mesopelagic sea animals are the sabertooth fish, sea stars, eels, the pufferfish, and mollusks like octopi, oysters, squid, and scallops.

The Aphotic Zones

Bathypelagic (3,300 to 12,000 feet/ 1,000-4,000 meters deep)
Bathypelagic means “deep sea.” It is also called the Midnight Zone.
The bathypelagic zone and below are considered Aphotic (no light) zones , because sunlight cannot reach these into these zones. The bathypelagic zone is very dark, and this is where you will start finding many creatures with bioluminescence. The most common bioluminescent creature in this zone is called the Lanternfish, which has dots of light lining its body.



Only 1% of the ocean animals live here, but there is still a large variety of life! Some animals you can find in this zone are the Sperm whale, the giant squid, vampire squid, anglerfish, lobsters, and other crawfish like shrimp. Whales are mammals, so they must go up to breathe air, however the Sperm Whale will dive into the Bathypelagic zone to hunt giant squid. The Giant Squid is around 33 feet in length, which is about the same length as a school bus! They have the largest eyes in the animal kingdom, of 10 inches in length. They use a propulsion system to move their cone shaped body, and steer their bodies with tiny fins.

“...Think of a ship: big as it is and driven by such strong winds, it can be steered by a very small rudder, and it goes wherever the pilot wants it to go.” James 3:4

Abyssopelagic- 12,000 to 20,000 feet deep/ 4,000- 6,000 meters
Abyssopelagic means “bottomless sea.” It also called The Abyss.
The average depth of the ocean is 4,000 meters (2 and 1/2 miles). The water in this zone is very still and very cold, just above freezing (36°F/2°C). Because it is dark and cold, fish move slowly and tend to be transparent, red, or black. Red is a very common creature color in this zone, because it is invisible at this depth. 90% of the creatures in this zone are bioluminescent! The Abyssopelagic zone animals are quite weird and creepy looking, however one adorable creature that you can find in the abyssopelagic zone is called the dumbo octopus. This octopus has big eyes and two big flaps on its head that look like dumbo ears. You can also find deep water corals, the fangtooth fish, deep sea jellyfish, giant tube worms, and slime stars.

The ocean is such a marvelous mysterious place. I hope you enjoy studying this seemingly bottomless wonder with your kids!

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Thanksgiving- Where it Began


Thankful For Friends

Thanksgiving has two amazing origin stories. The first thanksgiving is usually thought of as the celebration of the bountiful harvest for the Pilgrims. This meal was a three day feast that was shared between Native Americans and Pilgrims. The Pilgrims were celebrating a breakthrough in their new endeavor in freedom- they had finally reached a place of abundance! Before this they had a bitter cold winter, disease, and failed crops. They didnʻt understand how to work the land, and their ability to survive was dependent on this.

Enter Squanto. This Native American forged friendship with these newcomers to his land. But before any of that happened he was greatly wronged. He was taken by ship to England and made a slave. He managed to escape and return to America, but his time in England actually prepared him to aid the Pilgrims with translation and mediating friendships with other Native Americans. In forging friendship with the Pilgrims, he taught them how to work the ground so they would actually reap a harvest.

This was the first opportunity the pilgrims had to actually feast and celebrate. They had gone to America on faith that it would be a better life for them, where they could live in freedom. And now they were finally starting to thrive, and life in America seemed possible.

This was a meal set aside for fellowship. Chief Massasoit and the Wampanoag tribe sat at table with English settlers. It was a meal joining hearts. These people were celebrating their friendship that reached beyond any of their norms. They forged friendship despite vast cultural differences and understandings. They both benefited from operating in trust and love, rather than fear and suspicion.


National Day of Thanksgiving- Thankful While Broken

The other Thanksgiving origin story is less known. Thanksgiving was not a national holiday until the middle of the Civil War. The nation was torn apart, and the death toll was climbing. More men died in the Civil War than any other war in US history. In fact the US saw more loss of life than in World War I, II, Korean and Vietnam war combined.  In 1863, the middle of this horrifying war, Abraham Lincoln instituted Thanksgiving as a national holiday. In his proclamation, Lincoln called the nation to be mindful of the goodness of God in the midst of a very difficult time, saying “In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict…

Lincoln goes on to list the good things America had experienced that year, saying, “They are the the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”

Thanksgiving is a table of friendship where America gathers in unity, thankful for the grace of God. We gather not because we deserve the bounty, or that we have worked so hard to earn it, or because we have done everything right and good. We meet together because God is good, and we have received his mercy. Out of that mercy we can forgive, we can be humble, and we can forge friendships with people who see the world differently than we do.

In the midst of trying times, where we may have been wronged, or wrongs have been done to us, we can still rejoice, because we can find something to be thankful for. Whether we face a uncertain tomorrow, or a bountiful feast, we can face each day with joy because we start with thanksgiving.

God’s will for us is sometimes more simple than we think. “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks, for this is God’s will for you…” Instead of fear, have faith. Instead of worry, rejoice. Instead of suspicion, trust. Instead of bitterness, forgive. All of this begins, and continues, in thankfulness.

Know nothing except... a lesson in teaching my kids


You want the best for your kids. Admittedly I want my kids to be little geniuses that create astonishing advancements for the good of mankind. Because who doesn’t want their kid to succeed? Who doesn’t want their kid to ace their exams, stand head and shoulders above the rest, and lead the world in making it a better place? I often find myself pressured to produce greatness in my children. As a homeschooler, I have seen the kids who graduated at 15, became lawyers at 18, and are on their way to presidency by 25, and I think “yup, I’m doing it all wrong. My kid isn’t a concert pianist, or a rocket scientist, or a brilliant mathematician.” And I hang my head.

I succumb to comparison. I get sucked into my own schooling goals for excellence. And pretty soon a drive that was once a healthy desire for strong academics becomes unrealistic expectations, lack of vision, and frustrated teaching.

“God, I can’t do it. I can’t be the teacher or the mom I need to be. I didn’t check all the boxes. I’m not reaching my goals. I’m not being the person I want to be. My kid isn’t being the kid I want him to be. I’m failing. Someone can do this so much better, with so much more grace.”

It was one of those days. Two kids under two demanding all my attention, while my older two are trying to wade through their homework and barraging me with frustrated questions. Then God directed me to these words...“Know nothing... but Christ.”

Paul writes to Corinth as a spiritual father who wants to teach those under his care. There are many things Paul can teach them. Yet he chooses to forget everything else but one thing- Jesus. “When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” He goes on to say that he shared Jesus in such a way that demonstrated the power of the Spirit, ensuring that their faith would not rest on human wisdom.

I resolved to know nothing... except Jesus

This whole chapter blows my mind. It challenges every priority I set forth and shifts every aim to center around Christ first.

What if all I ever achieved was to demonstrate the love of God? What if my kids never really excel at basics like reading and math, but they leave my home as adults living and loving like Jesus? What if all they really know is Christ?

Paul continues to say that there is wisdom to be gained; that we can strive to grow in knowledge, and our wise Creator has endless wonders for us to explore and discover in our schooling journey! But Paul qualifies all our wisdom and knowledge seeking with this important first premise- first, know Christ.

Know His heart. Know His boundless love. Know Christ’s humility that serves generously and heartily. Know Christ’s deep compassion that moves us beyond complacency. Know Christ’s great grace that washes away our failures and equips us to forgive one another. Know Christ’s goodness that calls us to enjoy Him in all the beauty displayed in the world around us.

Know His Heart.
Know His boundless love.
Know His humility that serves generously and heartily.

Know Christ. For as we know Him, we will indeed grow, and seek knowledge, and gain wisdom. As they know Christ, my children will desire to unveil the wonders of God through applied study. And then, when they are ready to tackle the world on their own, and find their own voice, they will tackle it with love, and servanthood, and goodness. Their voices will be the ones to sing praises, and speak life, and cry out for justice until it appears. They will not only know things, they will do good things with what they know.


As we Know Him,
we will indeed grow, and seek knowledge, and gain wisdom.

So maybe the boxes won’t all get checked. Maybe we won’t reach all our goals. Maybe my kid won’t be a genius. But if I can love like Jesus, and walk in grace toward my children, and invite them to know Christ, then even in my failures they will know more goodness than any math book could ever give.

They will not only know things,
they will do good things with what they know.