Uncover the mysterious wonders of the ocean with activities that span the subjects!
If you are close to the sea, try checking out the following:
Tide pools invite curious kid’s investigative eyes. The viewable creatures and life cycles provide experiential learning opportunities for all ages.
- Seashell collection and beach combing is a relaxing way to pass time and set context for naturalist lessons and activities.
- Taking a boat ride is sure to delight young and old. Many small charters or tug boats will even allow children to briefly steer, while being observed by the captain.
- Maritime Museums open up the seafaring exploits of deep sea diving, oceanic exploration, and much more. Many of these museums offer educational tours that bring the exhibits to life for educators and their classes.
If you are far from the sea try these ideas:
- Local fish stores are a fun, low-cost way to see salt water creatures up close.
- Pet hermit crabs can be researched, and with careful preparation, brought home or to class as a pet.
Aquariums, in-person or online aquatic environments laid out for learning are a captivating and soothing way to spend the afternoon.
- Natural History Museums hold a wondrous array of informative exhibits. Check online or with your local visitor center to find details on the museums near you.
Tales of the Sea
Books are a fantastic way to showcase the breadth and depth of thematic topics. There is a wealth of amazing and intriguing ocean fiction and non-fiction titles.
Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle by Claire Nivola
Sea Turtles by Gail Gibbons
What Can Live in the Ocean? by Sheila Anderson
What Comes in a Shell? by Susan Canizares
National Geographic Readers: Sharks! by Anne Schreiber
What’s in a Tide Pool? By Anne Hunter
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni
A House For Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
The Magic School Bus: On the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole
Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
Baby Beluga by Raffi
Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Over in the Ocean by Marianne Berkes
Somewhere in the Ocean by Jennifer Ward and T.J. Marsh
Sand Dollar, Sand Dollar by Joyce Audy Dos Santos
Saltwater Painting: A mixture of salt, water, and food coloring creates a new medium for watercolor painting. My class loved to create ocean colors (greens, blues, deep purples) then create their own vision of the sea.
- Discovery Bottles: Soda bottles and water bottles of various sizes are the perfect base material needed to craft a discovery bottle. Discovery bottles can hold a diverse range of materials and serve a number of purposes.
- Option 1: Half fill the bottle with oil, water, and a few drops of blue food coloring then tightly affix the lid. Young oceanographers can then create waves by tilting the bottle back and forth.
- Option 2: Fill the bottle with sand and objects to be found by investigative young eyes. My kindergartners enjoyed discovering plastic fish and sea life as they shook and tilted the bottle, shifting the sand.
- Octopus Handprints: Paint each small hand with their choice color of tempura paint, then plop the handprint down onto any desired paper backdrop (light blue or dark blue work well). Next, turn the paper upside down, the hand print will resemble a floating octopus. Other sea life, plants, and the sea floor can be added using any art media desired.
- Fish in A Cup: Fill small clear cups with blue JELL-O and gummy fish to create edible sea scenes.
More Ocean Educational Resources:
Poems provide a delightful range of skill-building opportunities including, but not limited to: increased memory, rhyme scheme development, usage of parts of speech, vocabulary acquisition, and the exploration of figurative language. Jump into the wondrous world of ocean-themed poetry with this expansive directory of seafaring poems.
A Month of Ocean Activities
What’s better than a day exploring the ocean? A whole month of diving into the theme! Brought to educators by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, here is a month long supply of engaging lessons, quizzes, and activity ideas that are sure to spruce up any classroom content!
Early Childhood Ocean Songs
Rhythmic catchy tunes are an amazing way to master new content, especially new language. Early childhood class members will have a blast trying out this wide sampling of ocean-themed tunes. Each song has provided lyrics and mentions the tune to which it should be put to. My personal favorite, “I’m a Little Fishy” sung to the tune of “I’m a Little Tea Pot.”
Living by the ocean offers innumerable opportunities for providing children with first hand experience learning about plant and animal life, ecosystems, environmentalism, and so much more. As a teacher one of my most memorable field trips was to the Channel Islands off the coast of central California, where my fifth grade class participated in a beach clean-up. On our way back to the mainland after collecting trash we had the most unexpected surprise, as a pod of migrating humpback whales gave us an up-close and personal show. Building on the students' excitement and natural curiosity, we followed up the field trip with a lesson series on these amazing creatures. It was an experience that I'm sure they, and myself, will never forget!