King Tides Resources for Educators

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The California King Tides Project offers many opportunities for students and teachers in science and humanities. Please let us know how you engaged your students in king tides and any suggestions for how we can better support your efforts.

What can students do?

  • For upper elementary students, a lesson plan for drawing the low tides while at the shoreline and predicting high tide changes.
  • For K-5 students, download and print a King Tides Science Journal in English or Spanish for use during King Tides observations. (Next Generation Science Standards connections)
  • Learn about king tides, read king tides photography tips, and be sure to review and emphasize safety.
  • Identify ecologically, economically, culturally, and/or personally significant coastal locations to visit and photograph during the king tides.
  • Determine the tide height prediction at your photography location.
  • During the photography session, make notes on infrastructure, residences, businesses, recreation amenities, and plant and animal communities that are impacted by the high tides or will be vulnerable to future sea level rise. How do the weather conditions contribute to the actual water level?
  • Upload photos and then check back to view the photographic data displayed on an interactive Story Map. Participants can upload their photos via a web browser or download an app (which will allow them to input their data on location and finish uploading later when they're on WiFi). No personal information need be submitted. You and your students can practice using the app ahead of time - we'll delete photos taken outside of the King Tides period.
  • Create a video for the Coastal Commission's Climate Video Challenge, open to middle and high school students. This year's theme is "How is your community responding to the climate crisis?" Entries are due May 31, 2023.
  • Research historical photos of chosen locations and observe changes over time. One source for photos of the outer coast is the California Coastal Records Project. Choose "time comparison" to view all available photos of a location. Your city library or historical society may also have photos.
  • Teachers may choose to assign particular locations in order to collect their own time sequence over the years.
  • View projected impacts of sea level rise at This map allows you to see projected inundation at various sea level heights. If you set the sea level rise viewer to two feet, you can use the King Tides photos to validate this climate change model. Does the sea level rise viewer at two feet reflect what you're seeing in the King Tides photos (which show us water level about one to two feet higher than the average level throughout the year)? What do you notice and wonder as you compare the photos with the sea level rise map? An alternate sea level rise viewer is the Our Coast Our Future map.
  • Information on potential future sea levels in California can be found by reading Rising Seas in California, from April 2017. How will sea level rise impact your community, or another community that has cultural, economic, or ecological value to California?
  • Interview community elders who have memories of what the shoreline was like 30 or more years ago. Has there been noticeable erosion or changes in vegetation or land use? Do they have stories to share about their coast?
  • Communicate to your school, parents, or community about the impacts of sea level rise and the results of your California King Tides project. Share how things have changed and how they are projected to change.
  • Learn about tides and king tides from the Exploratorium, with videos and science activities.
  • Create a King Tides Flipgrid video by responding to this topic from California State Parks.
  • Calculate your personal carbon footprints using a calculator designed for students in middle school and older by the University of Washington and Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station. Then, propose community-level solutions that would lower your entire class's carbon footprint. For example, what changes in your community would make it easier to travel by bike or transit?
  • King Tides Photo Map Exploration Prompts
    Elementary Grades:
    • Show students a dramatic picture of a King Tide, preferably at a recognizable place or near where they live. Ask them to share: What do you notice? What do you wonder? What does it remind you of?
    • King Tides scavenger hunt. Find photos of the following:
      A big wave hitting a cliff.
      A beach covered in water
      A flooded street
      People watching the waves
    Middle and High School:
    • What is the most surprising picture you found? What do you notice? What do you wonder?
    • What do you predict will happen to the cliffs and buildings next to the beach getting hit by big waves? Why?
    • What do you predict will happen to the places that are flooded? Why?
    • These pictures were taken at high tide. How might they look different at low tide?
    • What do you predict might happen to the things (animals, people, cars, cliffs, buildings, etc.) in the pictures if it was always high tide?
    • What solutions can you think of to protect these places from King Tides and sea level rise?

More classroom lessons and demonstrations on sea level rise:

Virtual Field Trips to Coastal State Parks

Did you know that you can take your students on a virtual field trip to more than 40 California State Parks without ever leaving your classroom? Teachers and students are invited to explore California State Parks with the PORTS (Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students)® Program, a FREE distance learning program that uses video conferencing to connect students to parks. Students will engage in meaningful learning experiences as they learn about what makes each park unique and how these coastal areas will be affected by the impacts of climate change. PORTS Programs are FREE and are aligned with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. Visit to browse available PORTS Programs and book one for your class today.

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