Physical Geography - Ocean Landforms for Kids and Teachers Illustration

Physical Geography - Ocean Landforms

What is an ocean?

An ocean is a very large area of salt water. There are five oceans in the world. Each is a landform.

It seems rather odd to call an ocean a landform since it is obviously made up of a great deal of water and doesn't seem very solid, but that is its general geographical name - an ocean landform.  Oceans were formed naturally. Oceans make up over 70% of the Earth’s surface.

From biggest to smallest:

  • Pacific Ocean: The Pacific Ocean is the biggest ocean in the world. It reaches from North and South America to Asia and Australia. The Pacific Ocean is surrounded by a line of volcanoes known as the Ring of Fire. It is also home to the Great Barrier Reef, which is the largest coral reef in the world. Challenger Deep, the deepest point. "Pacific" means peaceful, which is rather funny because the Pacific Ocean contains about 25,000 islands and some of them are populated and noisy.

  • Atlantic Ocean: The Atlantic Ocean is the second biggest ocean in the world. It reaches from North and South America to Europe and Africa. The Atlantic Ocean is huge, but only half the size of the Pacific Ocean. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the longest mountain range in the world, is underwater in the Atlantic Ocean. Leif Eriksson, a Viking, was the first person to sail across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe in the year 1000 AD. 

  • Indian Ocean: The Indian Ocean is the third biggest ocean in the world. It is named after the country of India. The Indian Ocean is home to many endangered sea creatures, including turtles, seals and dugongs (also known as sea cows).

  • Southern Ocean (also called the Antarctic Ocean): The Southern Ocean is the second smallest ocean in the world. It is also known as the Antarctic Ocean as it surrounds Antarctica (the South Pole.) It is the coldest and wildest ocean in the world. The Southern Ocean is home to emperor penguins, blue whales, elephant seals, giant squid and the wandering albatross.

  • Arctic Ocean: The Arctic Ocean is the smallest ocean in the world. It surrounds the Arctic (the North Pole.) Often, the Arctic Ocean is completely covered in ice. Polar bears live on the ice that covers the ocean and can swim in the water. Because of climate change, the amount of ice covering the Arctic is getting smaller every year. The Arctic Ocean is the shallowest ocean.

We ranked them from biggest to smallest, but actually, there is only one global ocean. Under the landforms we called continents and islands you will find water, salt water. The oceans are connected. Oceans are actually regions. We call them oceans anyway because geographers call them oceans. Until recently, they called only four regions of salt water on planet Earth oceans. They added a 5th ocean, the Southern Ocean or the Antarctic Ocean, the one that surrounds Antarctica. They decided it was big enough to be called an ocean.

Whatever you call them, oceans are very important. There are over 700,000 different species of animals that live in the ocean. It is important to protect the oceans to make sure their habitats are safe. The ocean is also full of tiny plants which help to produce oxygen, which we need to breathe. On top of this, oceans also provide food for many creatures, including humans!

Besides all that, oceans are very important for the trade of goods. About 90% of the trade of goods between countries is carried by ships.

The ocean determines climate and plays a critical role in the Earth's habitability. Oceans also affect the weather.

You can see why scientists believe oceans are very important, and why we need to protect our oceans from damage.

For Kids

Map of the World's oceans and some very interesting facts

What is the difference between an ocean and a sea?

There is only 1 global ocean

Interesting facts about seas and oceans (animated video for kids)

Why is the ocean salty? (cartoon video for kids)

Can the ocean run out of oxygen? (cartoon video, Ted-Ed)

The Ocean: A driving force for weather and climate (youtube)

For Teachers

The Great Barrier Reef

Ocean Education - Some for geography, some for science

Free Presentations in PowerPoint format about Geography (Oceans and Continents)

See Also: Geography Lesson Plan Index