In this activity, students design and create an animal out of various items (including recycled or arts and crafts materials) that has special adaptations needed to survive the demands posed by its intertidal habitat. This activity has been adapted from New England Coastlines, New England Aquarium Education Department Curriculum Guide (1996).


  • Miscellaneous art, craft or recycled materials, (i.e. pipe cleaners, toothpicks, foam packing, colored paper, cotton swabs, yarn, tubes, egg cartons etc).
  • Invent an Invertebrate worksheet (pdf, 35kb)
  • Markers and pencils


  1. Have the class brainstorm a list of the challenges an organism faces living in a coastal habitat. You may want to distinguish between challenges faced in any coastal habitat and challenges unique to specific habitats; for example: “avoiding being eaten — all habitats” vs. “avoiding being washed away by waves — rocky and sandy coast habitats.”
  2. Working with the materials provided, challenge students to design and construct a never-before-seen animal or plant that is adapted to the conditions and challenges of the specific habitat recently visited (sandy, rocky, salt marsh or tidal mudflat).
  3. Use the Invent an Invertebrate worksheet to describe the organism and its adaptations.

Discussion topics

  • Why are adaptations important?
  • How do animals use adaptations?
  • What adaptations did you create for the new organism?
  • How did you decide what to create?
  • What factors did you consider?