Whales, Dolphins and the Curriculum

Learning about whales, dolphins and the wider marine environment can form a key part of teaching and fits in with many aspects of the curriculum, wherever in the world you may be teaching.

UK National Curriculum

WDC offers a wide variety of free educational resources for children, teachers and schools. These range from pictures to colour in, to activity sheets, PowerPoint presentations and our Dolphin Diploma. Details, along with links to the National Curriculum can be found on the TES website.

KS1 and KS2

Whales, dolphins and their environment, and the information you can find about them on the WDC website, offer a plentiful resource for teachers searching for material to enrich their delivery of the KS1 and 2 National Curriculum. For some subject areas such as Citizenship, Geography, PSHE and Science it is possible to draw specific parallels between material available on the website and clauses in the current curriculum guidance. Below we have provided some suggestions of ideas you might like to think about.  For other subject areas, notably History, Mathematics, ICT, English, Design and Technology and Art and Design we have also given general pointers or examples of ways in which WDC resources can assist teachers in fulfilling curriculum requirements. There are a few subject areas, such as Religious Education and Music where the connections may seem a little more tenuous but, nonetheless, relevance can still be found!

Citizenship and PSHE, Geography and Science

In Citizenship, pupils might be encouraged to consider how their behaviour impacts on the lives of whales and dolphins even if they live nowhere near the sea - what happens to the balloons they might release into the sky or the plastic bags that aren't recycled or disposed of properly? Do we humans have a responsibility to other species, especially if their threats are man-made? Why do groups like WDC exist? Maybe consider interviewing someone who works for an NGO like ours. In Geography, children might map out where whales and dolphins are found around the UK, consider the threats they face in these locations and what might be done to help. Perhaps compare the habitats of a dolphin living off the UK with one living elsewhere in the world. Science teachers could ask their pupils to create a food chain or web based on the marine environment, look up and explain whale-related terms such as 'baleen', 'bycatch' or 'echolocation', look at how whale and dolphin species have adapted to their environment or consider why they are the colour they are.

History, Mathematics, ICT, English, Design and Technology and Art and Design

Depending on the period studied, History teachers may find information on how, for instance, whaling began, why it was important to communities historically and today, and how and why attitudes have affected whaling communities over time. Maths teachers will find sections that increase their portfolio of activities for measuring, estimating and exploring features of shape and space, for instance in the Dolphin Diploma pages, or the Species Guide - why not try converting lengths and weights of some of the species from imperial to metric, or work out how many harbour porpoises would weigh the same as one blue whale? Or compare the length of a tank that an orca is held in in captivity with the length he or she might travel in a day in the wild. 

In ICT the website offers a range of presentational tools including interactive maps, audio and video clips, blogs, breaking news strands, interactive quizzes. English teachers will find a wealth of stimuli for children’s imagination at a time when their interest in and commitment to the needs of animals is at its strongest. There are also excellent examples of language used both to persuade and to inform for different audiences, as well as letter and blog contribution opportunities. Why not choose an issue such as captivity or whaling to stimulate ideas for discussion texts, explanatory texts or persuasion texts?

Design and Technology and Art and Design teachers will find useful activities such as origami, and poster design.

Music and RE

Why not listen to the whale and dolphin sounds available on whales.org/kidzone and try to replicate them using different musical instruments? Or write lyrics for a song about your favourite species? For RE, pupils might consider the rights of non-human species and whether intelligent mammals like whales and dolphins should have full rights?


WDC has an extensive education programme based at our Scottish Dolphin Centre in Spey Bay, which is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage. When schools visit the Centre the children participate in fun and engaging hands-on activities, and greatly enjoy learning outside of the classroom. Our outreach programme to local schools includes interactive presentations, workshops and school projects such as the Dolphin Diploma. All our work supports the Curriculum for Excellence. Details can be found in our Scottish Curriculum document.


As each of the Unites States has its own curriculum framework, it is not possible to link WDC resources definitively with each and every one. However, if you are interested in incorporating whales and dolphins into your teaching activities, NOAA’s Ocean Literacy Document may be of use to you.

"On our blue planet, the dominant feature is ocean. It contains 97 percent of the Earth’s water and releases vapor into the atmosphere that returns as rain, sleet, and snow, ever replenishing the planet with freshwater. All life, including our own, is dependent on the ocean. Understanding the ocean is integral to comprehending this planet on which we live.” - the Federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).