The following series of lesson plans are designed to be used in conjunction with the Barrier Islands and Sea-level Rise online education module, to teach the geomorphological processes and the effects of sea-level rise on barrier islands, the unique plants and animals of Assateague Island, and the monitoring activities being conducted by the National Park Service in the National Seashore. Some lessons are hands-on activities containing a link to a more detailed lesson plan, while others are short webquests. Teachers may choose to use individual lesson plans or all the lesson plans as a unit.

Basics and Sea–level Rise

Draw a Barrier Island—Students will draw a barrier island based on current knowledge. The teacher will be able to assess what students already know about barrier islands, and the plants and animals that live there.

clock 45 min.

pdf icon Full details: Draw a Barrier Island (1.2MB)

Barrier Island Features—Students will use an aerial photo of Assateague Island, and cut and fold the photo to form a box image of the island. They will then use what they've learned to identify basic barrier island features.

clock 45 min.

pdf icon Full details: Barrier Island Features (700KB)


Make a Clay Model of Assateague Island—Students will create a clay model of a barrier island and using the wind and water activities, they will add to their understanding of the geomorphology of a barrier island under the effects of sea-level rise.

clock 1.5 hours

pdf icon Full details: Make a Clay Model of a Barrier Island (950KB)


Words to Know Crossword Puzzle—Students will complete a crossword puzzle using barrier island and sea-level rise terms from the module. 

clock 30 min.

pdf icon Full details: Words to Know (1.6MB)


Webquest: Barrier Island Geomorphology—Explore the LEARN page in the module and learn about the types of geomorphological processes that shape and move a barrier island.

Answer the following questions:
    1. Name the geomorphological processes that shape and move a barrier island.
    2. In what way does wind change a barrier island?
    3. In what way does water change a barrier island?


Webquest: Effects of Sea-level Rise on Barrier Islands—Explore the TRENDS page in the module and learn about sea-level rise and what changes may occur on barrier islands such as Assateague Island under those conditions.

Answer the following questions:
    1. How would you define sea-level rise?
    2. What does IPCC stand for and what is their role?
    3. How will sea-level rise affect Assateague Island in the future? 


Going Further: Additional Resources

Climate change and sea level rise information:

Climate change and sea-level rise learning activities

Life on Barrier Islands

Barrier Island Habitats: Make a Barrier Island Habitat Wheel—Students will construct a habitat wheel detailing the six habitats of Assateague Island and how they may change under the effects of sea-level rise.

clock45 min.

pdf icon Full details: Make a Barrier Island Habitat Wheel (1MB)


Webquest: The Flora and Fauna of Assateague Island—Explore the DISCOVER page in the module. Learn about the plants and animals of Assateague Island and how their changing habitats will affect them.

Answer the following questions:

  1. Write a paragraph about your favorite plant and animal found on barrier islands.
  2. Using your favorite plant, describe how its ability to survive may be impacted by its changing habitat.
  3. Using your favorite animal, describe how its ability to survive may be impacted by its changing habitat. 

Going Further: Additional Resources


Barrier Island Monitoring: Elevation Changes on a Barrier Island—Students will use real data to graph the changes in a topographic profile on Assateague Island from three different years: 1996, 2004, and 2010.

clock45 min.

pdf icon Full details: Use Real Data to Graph Topographic Changes (2.2MB)

Webquest: Monitoring Seagrass—Explore the OBSERVE page in the module and read about seagrass monitoring activities conducted by park staff on Assateague Island.

Answer the following questions:
    1. Eelgrass is a coolwater seagrass that needs sunlight to grow. What effects may cause it to die off?
    2. What are the main stressors for seagrasses?
    3. Why should we care about seagrass abundance?
    4. What is an annual aerial survey and what does it tell us about seagrass?


Webquest: Monitoring Piping Plovers—Explore the OBSERVE page in the module and read about plover monitoring activities conducted by park staff on Assateague Island.

Answer the following questions:
    1. What special requirements do piping plovers have?
    2. Where do piping plovers make their nests?
    3. When animals can disguise or blend to match their habitat, what is this ability called?


Going Further: Additional Resources


Culminating Assessment: Barrier Islands and Sea Level Rise Module

The purpose of this assessment is to test student knowledge and depth of understanding of barrier island features and how sea-level rise will affect these them and their inhabitants. Have students synthesize information from the module by completing a project about Assateague Island National Seashore, a barrier island, where natural processes and resources are protected and preserved by the National Park Service.

Objectives: To assess students' integration and synthesis of vocabulary, concepts, and processes related to barrier islands and sea-level rise. The project should show the student demonstrating knowledge of content and mastery of processes related to barrier islands. Each project should define and discuss at least 10 concepts from the module.

Time: Two full class periods for development and research in the computer lab and a day for students to present to peers in class in a 3-5 minute presentation.

The project should be a poster, a 3D model (diorama), or a Powerpoint presentation. This will give the students some choice and ownership of the project while still allowing for creativity. 

  1. Poster: If the students choose the poster, it should be a standard size 11x17 poster about barrier island processes and habitats affected by sea-level rise.  
  2. 3D Model: If the students choose the 3D model, it should represent a model of a barrier island. The student can use a shoebox or a bigger box to make their model and should use pictures, sculptures, and other media to help them in their presentation.
  3. Powerpoint: If the students choose the Powerpoint presentation, they must create at least 10 slides, and use either graphics and/or videos in the presentation that relate to and are relevant to the module. The Powerpoint should be completed, saved on a flash drive, and previewed in class ahead of time to make sure any technical problems have been addressed.

The teacher should grade each project for neatness, creativity, effort, and thoughtfulness, and evaluate whether it is accurate, complete, and interesting.