Continents and Oceans


Donna A. Srouji

Description of Topic

            Our home, the earth, is comprised of oceans and continents.  Knowledge of the four oceans and the seven continents is the basis for learning geography. This lesson will introduce students to oceans and continents and their locations on a map.  At the end of the lesson, students will have the opportunity to color-code and label their own map of the world’s continents and oceans.  The teacher’s edition of People Together Adventures in Time and Place by McGraw Hill 2000,, and were consulted for this lesson.  This is a one hour lesson.


            Students need to be able to differentiate between oceans and continents in order to correctly use a map.  Also having knowledge of the seven continents and the four oceans and where they are located will give students a foundation in geography.  They will be better able to locate a particular area on a map. This is a group of students who have very diverse learning styles and benefit from hands on activities.  This lesson will be presented to them using a multitude of methods including class discussion, a hands-on activity, music, and a game.  It is hoped by presenting the material using than one method, students will be better able to retain the material.

Prior Knowledge

            Students have basic knowledge of where they live – their city, state and country.  They also know that the earth is made up of land and water.  Students have seen a globe before and know that the world is comprised of more areas than the one in which they live.  However, students may have some misconception about how many oceans there are in the world.  They also may not have heard the term continents before.  This lesson will capture students’ imaginations by helping the students to explore a map of the world and allowing them to see where they live in relation to the rest of the world. Also, a hands-on activity, music, and a game will be incorporated into this lesson to make it fun and to help students retain the information presented better. 


New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards

3.3 - All students will speak in clear, concise, organized language that varies in content and form for different audiences and purposes.

            A: 2 - Begin to stay focused on a topic of discussion.

6.6 – All students will apply knowledge of spatial relationships and other geographic skills to understand human behavior in relation to the physical and cultural environment. 

            A: 1 – Explain the spatial concepts of location, distance and direction including: The location of continents and oceans.

            A: 3 – Demonstrate basic globe and map skills.


1.      SWBAT identify the difference between a continent and an ocean. This will assessed by a class discussion and also through playing a game.

2.      SWBAT identify and locate the seven continents and four oceans on a world map.  This will be assessed by the students color-coding and labeling a map of the world.


            Students will be shown pictures of the following – a house, a neighborhood,  a state, and a country.  Students will be asked to determine what these places have in common – they are all places where people live. Students will be asked where they live – what town, what state, what country.  We will list the answers on the board. 


1.      A map of the world will be displayed in the front of the room.  A globe will also be accessible to students. Students will be seated at their desks for this lesson.  The classroom management strategy that will be used is the same one the teacher uses.  The class has a card system that they use if a student is not staying on task or listening to directions.  The students will be asked to pay attention and participate in the activity. If anyone chooses not to do as they are asked, one of the interns or the teacher will speak with them.  If they need repeated reminders they will be asked to flip their card to the next color.  A student who remains on green the entire day gets a sticker from the teacher.

2.      The first activity will be the hook which will ask the students to determine what the pictures have in common – house, neighborhood, state, and country.

3.      A class discussion will follow about what Americans have in common with other people in the world (we all live on the earth).  We will also discuss what two things make up the earth. 

4.      The word continents will be written on the board and defined for the students (a very large body of land). Students will be asked if by looking at the map they can guess how many continents there are and which one we live on in America.

5.      The word ocean will be written on the board and defined for students (a large body of water).  Students will be asked if they can guess how many oceans are on the earth by looking at the map.

6.      The intern will point to a map of the world and name all seven continents while pointing to each one - North America, South America, Asia, Australia, Antarctica, Africa, and Europe.  The intern will point to the map and name all four oceans – Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Artic while pointing to each one.  The students will be asked to repeat the name of each feature after the intern.

7.      The intern will then teach the students a song Continents and Oceans to help them remember the names of the continents and oceans (copy of song is attached).  The intern will point to each feature while presenting the song to the class.  The class will sing the song several times with the intern pointing to each feature as its name is sung.

8.      Students will play the game “Continents and Oceans”. There will be a bag of cards with either “continent” or “ocean” written on each one.  Students will be given a card from the bag by an intern and asked to take turns placing a finger on the place on the map that the card indicates. 

9.       Another group of cards which lists each of the specific continents and oceans will be placed in a second bag and the intern will help each student select a card.  Students will take turns pointing to their particular place on the map with the help of the intern. 

10.  Students will be given a blank map of the world and labels which name each continent and ocean.  They will be asked to take out their scissors and glue sticks for this activity. Students will be reminded to raise their hands if they need help. They will be asked to color each continent a specific color – North America will be orange, South America will be green, Asia will be red, Europe will be brown, Antarctica will be yellow, Africa will be purple, and Australia will be black.  They will color the oceans blue.  They will then be asked to, using the world map in the front of the class, glue the labels in the correct spots on their maps. 

11.  Students will be asked if they know which continent is furthest from their home, and which is the closest.  They will also be asked which continent they would like to visit and why.

Questions and Examples

1.      For the hook, I will ask, “Can you tell me what this is a picture of?” (point to each picture).  “Who can tell me what these pictures have in common?”

2.      For the classroom discussion, students will be asked “What do Americans have in common about where they live with all other people in the world?”  “Who can tell me what two things make up the earth?”  “Can anyone tell me what they think a continent is?” “Looking at the map, can anyone tell me how many continents we have in the world?”  “Can anyone tell me what they think an ocean is?”  “Looking at the map, can anyone tell me how many oceans there are in the world?”

3.      During the game of “Continents or Oceans”, students will be asked, “Can you find on the map the type of feature that your card lists? An example of a feature on your face is a nose. A continent or ocean is a feature on a map.”  During the second round of “Continents or Oceans”, students will be asked, “Can you find on the map the continent or ocean that your card names?”

4.      Students will be asked “Do you know which continent is furthest from your home?  Does anyone know which continent is closest to their home?  Which continent would you like to visit and why?”

5.      During the closure students will be asked, “Can you help sing the song as you point to each continent and ocean on your map when we say its name?”


            The students will sing the song Continents and Oceans while point to the proper place on their map that they have made.


There are no special needs students in the group however there are several students who have trouble with time management.  During the map activity they will be kept on task by reminders from the interns of how much time they have left.  Also, there are a few students who are able to complete tasks with relative ease.  The students who finish the map activity will be allowed to further decorate their map by writing the name of countries on their continents.  The interns will be moving around the room making sure that the students understand the task.

Follow-up Activity

            Students will be creating a continent in a later lesson.  They will be able to determine where they will place this continent on their map.  They will also incorporate their knowledge of landforms by deciding what type of landforms their continent will have. 


Click here to return to the Pace Charter School page.










Song : Continents and Oceans

Tune: London Bridge

There are seven continents,

Continents, continents,

There are seven continents,

On the earth.

North and South American,

Africa, Asia

Europe and Antarctica

Don’t forget Australia!

There are also four oceans,

Four oceans, four oceans

There are also four oceans

On the earth.

Indian, Atlantic,

Arctic, Pacific.

Indian, Atlantic,

Arctic and Pacific!