Water, Water Everywhere!

How can you live in the middle of the ocean or a lake or a river?
On an island, of course!

there is a drawing of an island

Islands are pieces of land that are surrounded by water. Some islands are the tops of mountains rising up from the bottom of the ocean. Others, called continental islands, were once connected to the mainland nearby. They became islands when, long ago, the ocean rose around them.

Some islands are still being formed today. In 1967 a volcano off the coast of Iceland suddenly bubbled up from under the sea. It spewed mounds of hot lava that cooled and hardened in the water to form a rocky island called Surtsey. Today Surtsey is a favorite resting site for birds and seals.

Who lives on islands? Some islands are nearly deserted—only insects and scrub plants live there, although migrating birds may stop for a rest as they fly across the ocean. Other islands, like Manhattan in New York, are bustling with people.

Continental islands have much of the same wildlife as the mainland they were once joined to. But what about islands far out to sea? Strong, oceangoing birds can fly to these faraway islands. Smaller birds may be blown to the islands in storms. Plant seeds, too, might be carried by the wind or float to islands on ocean currents. Birds bring seeds and insect eggs in mud on their feet or in their feathers. Animals like seals can swim to islands.

Other animals, like mice, had to come by boat!

Snakes, lizards, and other animals may float to new island homes on drifting logs. And what about people? They depend on boats and airplanes to get on and off their faraway island homes. Many people dream of living on a beautiful tropical island with warm breezes and tall palm trees. What about you?


  • continental: Like one of the main land masses of Earth.
  • current: Part of a body of water that is moving.
  • drifting: Being carried along by water that is moving.
  • lava: Melted rock that flows out of a volcano.
  • migrating: Moving from one place to another.
  • scrub: Straggly.
  • volcano: An opening in the earth through which lava flows.

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  1. Design your own island. What lives on your island? Is your island close to or far away from other islands or land? What kinds of plants live on your island? Draw a picture of an island. Show the plants and animals on the island. Show the location of the island.
    [anno: Drawings will vary but should show the plant and animal life on the island and how close the island is to other islands or to the shore of a continent.]