Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 5-10, students explore BrainPOP resources to learn about how Jacques Cousteau applied his passion for undersea exploration, film making, innovating, and later conservation to create documentaries as well as one of the first television nature shows. Using what they learn, students will write an obituary remembering Cousteau’s achievements and contributions.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Discuss nature shows they’ve seen and brainstorm their benefit.
  2. Watch a BrainPOP movie about Jacques Cousteau to learn about his life.
  3. Use the Make-a-Map tool (or offline graphic organizer) to construct a concept map about Cousteau and his achievements.
  4. Identify the function of various innovations developed by Cousteau and how he benefit from them.
  5. Write an obituary honoring Jacques Cousteau.


  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Class sets of the Worksheet and Web Graphic Organizer if students are working offline.
  • Examples of obituaries, especially famous ones if you can access them online or elsewhere.


  • Preview the movie Jacques Cousteau to plan for any adaptations.
  • If students will be working offline, make copies of the the Web Graphic Organizer and Problem and Solution Worksheet.
  • Bring in and display samples of obituaries
  • Lesson Procedure:

    1. Ask students what nature shows, such as documentaries, they’ve seen and jot them down on the whiteboard. Then ask students what they think the purposes are of the various nature shows they listed, or more specifically the benefits. Again, jot their responses on the board.
    2. Tell students that today they will learn about Jacques Cousteau. First, encourage students to share what they already know about him. Then explain that Cousteau was an explorer, an innovator, and a filmmaker who brought the mysteries of the ocean to the public through his documentaries and television show. Explain how his inventions, such as the shark cage, enabled him to do this.
    3. Have students open the Problem and Solution Worksheet on their individual computers or devices (alternatively distribute a print out of the activity if no individual access). Show the movie Jacques Cousteau on an interactive whiteboard or other large display to the whole class. Pause when the movie discusses the various inventions and allow time for students to fill in the activity page. The innovations include the aqua lung, underwater camera, shark-proof cage, and underwater labs.
    4. Next, if you have access to multiple computers or devices, have students open the Make-a-Map feature and select the spider web template or construct their own. Or, if limited computers or devices, distribute the Web graphic organizer.
    5. Students are to watch the movie again within the Make-a-Map feature. As they watch, have them identify major events and achievements in Cousteau’s life. If limited computers, you can show the movie again to the whole class as they take notes offline on a Web graphic organizer.
    6. Tell students they will now write obituaries summarizing and honoring Jacques Cousteau. Make sure they understand that an obituary is an article written by a newspaper journalist that provides a brief biography of the person who died. Allow time for students to explore the obituaries you brought to class as examples. Then explain that to write Cousteau’s obituary, students are to use their concept map notes as well as the notes about Cousteau’s inventions from the activity page. Remind them to include information about how he became a conservationist later in his life.
    7. Circulate as students write their obituaries, helping them as needed. Again, remind them they can use the examples you brought to class as models for tone and style.
    8. Finally, have students present share their Cousteau obituaries with each other.

    Extension Activities:

    Play Sortify: Ocean Life and earn points by categorizing key concepts related to life under the sea.

    Divide the class into groups of five. Have each person in the group read a different Jacques Cousteau Related Readings. Then have them share what they learned with the group.