Topics & Concepts

Understanding differences between reef types can be confusing to some children. If this topic is something that interests your child, use the illustrations above to help explain more about the three types and what makes them unique. Children don't always connect to content in the same way, recognizing what your child responds to most opens the door for understanding more about how he/she learns best. Use thingaBOOM as a platform for making that happen!

Consider asking your child which reef type is easiest to remember or how the illustrations help distinguish the differences between each reef type

The illustrations of the 3 reef types are meant to be used as visual tool for children to understand the differences and characteristics of each reef type. If this topic is something that stands out to your child consider encouraging them to make illustrations of their own! It's a great way to peek creativity, and to encourage kids to get interactive with education.


Atoll n.

Etymology of the word Atoll - 1620s, atollon, from Malayam atolu "reef," probably from adal "closing, uniting." Popularized in present form by Darwin's writings.

Acronym n.

a word (as NATO, radar, or laser) formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term; also : an abbreviation (as FBI) formed from initial letters


Reef Facts
Coral Facts Galore!

Coral Reef Differences
Check out this website for a more expansive, in-depth description of the differences between the coral reefs of the world!

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The Reef in Brief


Reefs in Space

Three Reefs = Threefs?

There are three major types of coral reefs: fringing reefs, barrier reefs, and atolls. Before we discuss more about coral types, watch this biologist explain some coral specifics!

Coral reefs can be found in 109 countries in the world!

The video discusses some similarities between ALL coral reefs, like how they grow, eat, and live underwater!

Fringing Reef

The most popular of the three, fringing reefs grow directly from the shore, let's just say these corals like to stick to land! Due to their vulnerability to the air, fringing reefs are the most susceptible to pollution.

Barrier Reefs

Separated by a lagoon, barrier reefs are the least common of the three, and the largest. You might have heard of one, it's called THE GREAT BARRIER REEF in Australia!

Coral reefs are some of the simplest creatures in the world, they can however, grow SO large they can be seen from outer space! A worthy sight seeing adventure for astronauts, no doubt!




The last of the reef types, a tolls are ring shaped. Just like a ring surrounds the skin around your finger, atoll reefs surround a body of water. These reefs form from volcanoes that erupt underwater. Wouldn't want to be around to see that happen!


Acronym- A set of initials that represent a name/organization/ or idea, and a great tool for memorization!

Reef Recap!

3 is the magic number when it comes to reef types. You can use B-A-F as an acronym to remember!

  • Barrier reefs are the least common types of reefs in the world, but not hard to remember; just think of the largest and most famous, Great Barrier Reef.
  • Atoll reefs form when volcanoes erupt underwater!
  • Fringing reefs. Last but not least are the most popular of the three types, and the most susceptible to pollution.