Sand! Waves! Fish! So much fun! Teaching young students about oceans can mean tons of excitement. While some of your little ones have experienced a trip to the ocean, there may be others who have never had the opportunity. Try bringing the ocean into your classroom by incorporating various ocean-themed activities. Join me as I dive into activities that will introduce students to the types of animals and creatures that make up the ocean habitat.
Show and Tell is a great time to have your students who have visited the ocean share mementos from their trips. Invite your students to bring in photos, seashells, starfish, and other items to share with their classmates. My students love to share their experiences aloud in class. To be sure everyone is included, I allow those students who’ve never visited the ocean to ask questions.
During our study of the ocean, I incorporate ocean-themed activities into my classroom learning stations. Take a look below at some of our fun.
To help your students learn to identify the different animals that live in the ocean, play a game of concentration. Print pairs of several ocean creatures on card stock (Brainster Apps has a great set of flash cards available in full color photographs or cartoons. Have Fun Teaching also has a cartoon set available for free.). Cut and laminate each card. Now it's time to play!
Turn your classroom drama station into a day at the beach. Provide students with items such as beach towels, sunglasses, sun visors, sand pails, and more. Students will enjoy pretending they are relaxing in the sun.
Have students build ocean vocabulary words using letter stamps or magnetic letters.
Fishing for Sight Words
My students love to go fishing for sight words. For this activity, I simply cut out several fish templates and write a different sight word on each fish. Near the mouth of the fish, I place a paper clip. Students take turns fishing with a plastic fishing rod equipped with a magnet at the end of the line. When a fish is caught, the students must read the word.
My students had a blast creating these ocean habitats in the art station. Each student had the opportunity to create their favorite ocean animal. Later, in small groups, we placed their creations in various ocean habitats.
Have students draw and write about their favorite ocean animal. While my students are writing, I allow them to listen to the sounds of the ocean. This is so relaxing!
Not only are Goldfish good to eat, they are also good to use when practicing many math skills. During our study of the ocean, my students used Goldfish to practice matching number words to sets.
Placing an estimation jar in the math station is a great activity to incorporate. During our study of the ocean, I fill a jar with various plastic sea creatures. When my students visit the math station, I have them write down how many sea creatures they think are in the jar.
Sort and Classify
Play an animal classification game. My students have fun sorting animals that live in the ocean from those that do not.
Ocean in a Bottle
To see how waves look, have your students create an ocean in a bottle. For this activity, all you need are plastic bottles or jars with screw-on lids, blue food dye, oil, and water. Help your students fill their bottles about two-thirds with water. Add food coloring to your oil. Now fill the bottle of water to the top with the colored oil. Use hot glue to seal the top. Have your students turn the bottle on its side and rock it gently back and forth to see the waves.
Fill a large plastic bin with sand. Hide seashells, plastic ocean animals, and more. Have your students take turns searching for items in the sand.
Primary Games features a variety of ocean-themed games for your students to play. Students can go fishing, trap a tuna, and so much more. You can also visit Disney's Online Games page for kid-friendly games featuring their favorite Disney characters, like Ariel, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Dory from Finding Nemo.
I fill my classroom library with tons of books about the ocean. Students love to lay out on beach towels and pretend they are reading in the sun!
Below is a list of my top favorite books to use when teaching about the ocean.
In the Ocean by A. J. Wood
This book features interactive touch and feel pages that my students love. After reading this book, I have my students draw and label pictures of the different ocean animals in the story. They also write one adjective that describes the touch and feel of each character.
Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
We created these seahorses using a seahorse template, tissue paper, glue, and a paintbrush. Students cut tissue paper into small squares and used a paintbrush to paint a layer of glue on the seahorse.
The Rainbow Fish by Marc Pfister
After reading The Rainbow Fish by Marc Pfister, allow your students to create their own rainbow fish.
A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
My students created these adorable crabs using their handprints.
The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
This book is full of rhymes. I have my students search for rhyming words within the story. I also have my students draw a picture of Mr. Fish’s transformation from a pout- pout fish to a friendly fish.
Do you have any ocean activities to share? Please comment below.