Ocean Themed Activities
These simple ocean-themed activities are sure to lead to hours of laughter and fun. What kid doesn’t enjoy the beach? If you cannot take a trip to the beach, bring the beach to the kids. These under the sea theme ideas will make them feel like they are enjoying a summer day at the ocean.
OCEAN THEMED ARTS AND CRAFTS
1. OCEAN IN A BOTTLE
- A clean, empty two-liter plastic bottle with a cap
- Clear vegetable oil
- A funnel
- Blue food coloring
- Shells and sea creatures (available from craft stores- be sure to use lightweight items that float)
- One teaspoon of glitter
- White craft glue and a hot glue gun (to be used ONLY by staff or supervised by staff at all times).
- Fill the bottle halfway with water.
- Add a few drops of blue food coloring and swirl around to mix.
- Add glitter and sea creatures/shells and then fill the bottle the rest of the way with vegetable oil using a funnel.
- Make sure that cap and rim are dry— and then apply white glue around the rim and seal cap.
- Use a layer of hot glue around the outside edge of the cap for added protection from leakage.
- Turn the bottle on its side to create a wave in this ocean habitat! From Kid’s domain website.
2. OCEAN TREASURE IN A BOTTLE
“Ocean Treasure”–add coins and beads!
TIP: If you have trouble getting the entire label off – you may want to place a label over the ‘old laaber’ and write the “children’s’ names” and “Ocean in a Bottle”.
3. PAPER PLATE JELLYFISH AND FISH
Either use colored paper plates or paint them. I painted (the plates in the image are painted) use the less expensive plates without the coated surface. The coated plates will take much longer to dry.
4. FOR THE FISH…
Cut a ‘V-shaped” wedge from one side of the plate. This is the mouth. Glue the cut shape to the other side of the plate–this is the tail.
Glue or draw on an eye…and decorate as desired. Sequins or other embellishments can be applied as desired. Although it doesn’t show in the image—the two fish pictured have glitter glue applied.
Cut a paper plate in half. (This sample used small-sized plates for the jellyfish) Paint the paper halves. When dry glue crepe paper “tentacles’.
NOTE: If you will be hanging the fish and jellyfish–use a hole punch and then thread yarn or string through the hole in the paper plate to hang. (Image by KidActivities.net)
6.’PAPER PULP’ NECKLACES OR ORNAMENTS
(Paper Pulp can be an alternative to clay!)
Put a cup of shredded newspaper into a blender.
Add 2 cups of water.
BLEND WELL. Very well.
Strain the mixture so that it is mushy, but still very wet. (Adjust paper and water according to the amount you need.)
Put PULP into ‘OCEAN THEMED’ cookie cutters as molds. Use a straw to form a hole at the top. When completely dry, remove from form. Paint as desired and add string/yarn/cord/ribbon for necklaces (or ornaments). Idea and images by Shannon Stewart formerly of Stetson School in Phoenix! To see photographs of Pulp Making and another idea —visit Play ough Category at the bottom of the page!
7. Make an OCEAN SEASIDE SCENE
Inside a small to medium glass vase Use beach sand, shells, small pieces of driftwood, the small discarded shell of a crab, etc., for a SEA SCENE.
TIP: If working with a large group…put small glass vases on your wish list! I imagine that your parents have quite a few vases in their cupboards that they could donate–I get a couple every year with gifts of flowers.
A FEW ART AND CRAFT IDEAS FROM THE ‘SAND THEME’
8. SAND ART
- Give each child a piece of construction paper, and have them draw a picture or write words with the glue. Make sure that they do not put gobs of glue in any one spot.
- Before the glue dries, with the hand, pour/put sand onto the glue. Let it sit for a few minutes and then shake off the excess sand.
- It should dry flat for about half an hour depending on how much glue was used.
TIP: This can also be done with colored sand–but for those on a budget–regular sand works just as well.
9. DRY SAND PAINT
- 1 cup sand
- 1 T. powdered paint
- Mix and put into a shaker.
- Put glue design onto paper-Shake sand onto the glue
LOOKING FOR ‘SAND PLAY DOUGH’ RECIPES?
Scroll down the page of the SAND THEME…there are five there!!!
10. MAKE SAND JARS
- Baby food jars or other jars
- Colored sand or sand
- Tempera paint
- If not using purchased colored sand, combine the sand with the dry tempera paint. Make a variety of colors. Salt also works for white.
- Layer the different colors of sand into the jar. (Using small funnels to put the sand into the jars keep areas neat.)
- You can also use a straw or kabob stick to ‘poke’ through desired layers of sand to make designs
11. FROOT LOOP SAND LAYERS
- Box of Froot Loops Cereal
- Have children sort the colors.
- Put the different colors into baggies and crush them till powdery.
- Put individual layers in a baby food jar, or clear plastic or glass bottles as you would colored sand.
TIP: This is good for younger children without the hazard of sand…Older kids may also like as a novelty.
12. “FISH WEAVING” DISPLAY WALL
Have children weave strips of fabric, ribbon, or yarn on paper plates. Join the plates together to make the scales of a fish on a pre-made fish shape!
Add strips of thinly cut roll paper or crepe paper to simulate seaweed! Cut out a few circles (bubbles) and space above the fish’s head. Photograph of Display Wall by Lisa Tregellas at Display Photos.
Pictured on the right is a close up of two woven plates.
One (the white plate) is very easy to do with slits cut opposite each other on the edge of the plate. The children then simply wrap the yarn or ribbon up and down the front and back of the plate. Do this until all slits have yarn on them. Tie the yarn/ribbon in a knot in the back of the plate.
The second way is a more traditional method of weaving paper. Fold the plate in half and cut a series of slits in the plate. Ribbon or yarn is then woven over and under (or in and out) the slits. The outer circle of this plate was painted before the weaving began.
When the plates were complete, spray adhesive was very lightly applied and glitter sprinkled over the plate. Most glitter adhered and very little came off. (Image by KidActivities.net)
TIP: After doing the two plates with yarn—ribbon or slim strips of fabric would go more quickly.
13. SEASHELL WIND CHIMES
- 8 Seashells (available from the beach, or at craft supply stores)
- 1 plastic coffee-can lid
- Knitting yarn scraps
- Liquid white glue
- Sharp pencil or paper punch.
- Glue each shell to the end of a short piece of yarn. Use liquid white glue.
- Let dry overnight.
- Punch eight holes equally spaced on the top of a plastic coffee-can lid. Use a sharp pencil or a paper punch.
- Hold the lid with the rim facing up. Push the eight pieces of yarn through the eight holes of the underside of the lid.
- Tie the end of each piece of yarn in a large knot. Make the knot bigger than the hole so the yarn will not slip through.
- Punch two more holes on opposite edges of the lid.
- Push one end of a large piece of yarn from the top of the lid through one hole. It should come out on the underside of the chime.
- Tie a large knot.
- Push the other end of the yarn through the other hole and knot it.
- Hang the chime on the branch of a tree or in your window.
14. PAPER PLATE AQUARIUM
- Color an underwater scene on the “eating” side of a paper plate.
- Glue goldfish crackers or cut-out pictures from coloring pages to the scene.
- Add a couple of pieces of plastic plant or crepe paper for seaweed…and using glue…add a little sand or soft dirt to make the seafloor.
- Using a second paper plate, cut a circle in the middle. Cut a circle of blue plastic wrap 1 inch in diameter larger than your hole in the plate.
- On the “eating” side of this plate, glue the blue plastic wrap so that it covers and overlaps the hole on the plate.
- Glue or staple both plates together with the “eating” side toward the inside.
- Punch a hole in the top and string a piece of yarn through the hole to hang your aquarium from the ceiling.
15. T.P. TUBE OCTOPUS
- Paint toilet paper tube.
- When dry cut eight slits halfway up.
- Add googly eyes. An Octopus!
If desired punch hole in top and thread with string or yarn to hang.
16. SWIMMING FISH… (A CRAFT & SCIENCE in one!)
- Fill a large plastic soft drink bottle about one-quarter full with water.
- Add a few drops of blue food coloring and a very small drop of liquid detergent.
- Pour in a small amount of clean sand or aquarium gravel. Blow up two small balloons, release most of the air, then tie the ends closed. Push the balloons into the bottle and screw the cap on tightly. When you have finished, you will have a fish tank with two bobbing “fish” inside.
- The fish will swim in the water by holding the bottle sideways and rocking it back and forth. You may just discover that each child will want one of their own.
MAKE AN ‘YARN DOLL OCTOPUS’… Directions are in the ‘YARN DOLL CATEGORY’… (Image by KidActivities.net)
17. MAKE A LEI…
A nice craft for “Beachy” Ocean Theme…
#1 LEI IDEA
Layout pre-cut long pieces of string, twine, raffia, or fishing line, long-tube pasta, and plastic or fabric tropical flowers.
The kids can string together the flowers and pasta to make fun to wear a lei necklace.
#2 IDEA: STAR-STUDDED LEIS
- Craft foam
- Sharpened pencil
- Elastic cording
- Red-and-white striped straws or drink stirrers
- Cut out craft foam stars and use a sharpened pencil to poke a hole in the middle of each one.
- String them onto a length of elastic cording, alternating the stars with sections of straw or drink stirrer.
- Knot and wear.
PUFFY WHITE PAINT…NOT ONLY FOR SNOW SCENES but great for clouds and the ocean!
- White glue
- Shaving cream
- Measure equal parts of white glue and shaving cream.
- Mix the two ingredients together. It should be very thick and fluffy.
In warm weather, it’s perfect for fluffy white clouds and ‘white caps’ on big ocean waves…The texture is interesting. When dry-it feels much like foam and stays three dimensional.
18. A PIECE OF BEACH
- Sandbox Sand
- White Glue
- Small Shells
- Mix sand and glue until the sand is syrupy.
- Pour the mixture into a bowl, plate, cup, etc.
- Push shells into the mixture to form a sculpture.
- Let this dry undisturbed; it may take a couple of days.
- When dry–the glue converts the sand to a plaster.
OCEAN THEMED GAMES
20.’CLAMMING’ FOR MARBLES
- Wading pool
- Optional sand
- Fill a wading pool with water and the dump marbles into it.
- The sand can also be added.
- The object is for team members to wade in a small pool and try to recover marbles (clams) with their toes –and place them in their bucket.
Rather than winners with each group, see which group can recover the most marbles.
An alternative would be to float Frisbees on the water surface and have the kids place the marbles in the Frisbees.
21. ‘BEACH TIME’ RELAY RACE
- Beach bag filled with game item
- A lawn chair for each group.
- Each team will “go to the beach” in relay fashion carrying the lawn chair and the beach bag.
- Each person…
1. Must set up the chair
2. Open the umbrella
3. Layout the towel
4. Put on the sunglasses
6. Open the magazine
7. Repack before returning for the next person to go.
This relay race is fun to watch.
22. SHARKS AND MINNOWS
This tag game can be played in an open field or a gym.
One child starts out as the shark and all others are minnows. (If the group is large start out with two sharks)
Minnows stand in a straight line at one side of the field/gym–facing the shark that is in the center of the play area.
The shark shouts, “Minnows swim to me!”
All the minnows run to the other side of the field. If they reach the other side they are safe.
If they are tagged they also become a “shark” or “seaweed”. The game continues with the leader shark saying, “Minnows swim to me” and the minnows try to get to the other side…
There are two versions to the game at this point…
#1. Method: Once tagged the minnows (who are now sharks) also help run and tag the remaining players. The lead shark is always the caller.
The last ‘safe minnow’ becomes the new leader shark.
#2. Method: Once tagged the minnows sit down and become seaweed. The seaweed reaches out as the minnow run/swim by and if tagged–also sit and become seaweed.
The last untagged minnow is the new shark.
23. ‘OCEAN’ SAND-PLAY ITEMS FOR OUTDOORS
TAKE OUT THE: Bowls, Buckets/Pails, Cars & Trucks, Colander, Cookie Cutters, Funnels, Ladles, Magnifying Glass, Measuring Cups, Molds of different shapes, Muffin tins, Plastic Sea animals, Dishes, People, Rolling Pin, Scale, Scoops, Shovels, Sieve, Sifters, Spoons, Strainer
Natural Materials: Seeds, shells, pebbles, sticks…
STORMY WATERS GAME
(Good for Pre-K to Grade 1)
Get enough cushions (or pillows or squares of paper) so there is one per person. Play some background music. Tell the children that they are in the ocean and to start “swimming” around to the music. When you stop the music shout out “There’s a storm coming – dash to an island!” Everyone must jump onto a cushion so no part of their body is touching the ocean (the floor).
Start the music again and the game resumes with a new variation.
Variation: Ask children to be fish–swimming in the sea. When you stop the music tell them there is a big shark coming to eat them.
- You can try other ideas such as: Crocodiles, Pirates or Jellyfish coming to get them.
The children would then be:
Dolphins, Boats, Crabs, Mermaids, mermen, etc. They could also be surfing!
24. THE OCEAN IS CALM
(A listening game-appropriate for Pre-K to Grade 1)
- Children sit scattered about the play area on geometric shapes.
- Without telling the others, each child is assigned a creature that lives in the ocean on the back of their mat.
- One player is chosen as the fisherman.
- The teacher/caregiver calls out, “The ocean is calm”.
- Moving about the play space, the fisherman calls out names of various fish or sea creatures such as:
Shark, eels, starfish, stingray, clams, squid, etc.
- When a player hears the name of the creature they have been given—they get up and walk behind the fisherman.
- When most of the players have been called out, the facilitator calls out, ” The ocean is stormy”.
- At this, all the children already caught– must find new seats.
- The child without a seat becomes the next fisherman.
25. HAVE A BEACH PARTY!
In cold weather climates we often have “A Beach Party” Theme in January/February to boost our spirits–BUT don’t forget about the theme during sunny weather AND and have it outside! (Great for a ‘Good-Bye to Summer’ Theme!)
Play beach music and beach-ball volleyball; put umbrellas in the drinks, limbo dance, make ice-cream and leis! Check out the Outdoor Water Games Here…
26. JUMP THE WAVES!
- Two long ropes (The waves)
- Divide the children into two teams, on at each end of the play area.
- On your signal, the two teams run and try to jump the ropes.
- Keep on widening the ropes each time.
- If the students fall into the ocean, they must dry their feet back on the beach (lie on their back and shake their legs)
- They then get up and continue the jumps!
27. BEACH BASKETBALL
A great classroom, party, or afterschool program idea!
Place a basketball hoop in a small child’s swimming pool. Talk about swimming pool fun!
Ocean Theme Party Ideas
•Bean bag sea animals
•Vinyl sea creatures
•Swedish Fish Candy or Gummy Fish
•Life Saver Candy
•Fish shaped suckers and candy rings
•Sticky sea creatures
•Sand/Beach toys (Sand pail, etc.)
•Small containers/tubes sunblock/lotion
•Mini plush fish
•Small toy animals that grow in water
BEACHY OCEAN THEMED SNACKS
For each child, fill a small cup with goldfish crackers.
Supply pretzel rods for fishing poles and peanut-butter to put on the ends to use as bait to snag the fish.
FISH IN THE STREAM
Fill celery with cream cheese and top them with goldfish crackers!
BEACH AND OCEAN SUGAR COOKIES
Make or purchase large round sugar cookies.
Have children cover half of the cookie with ‘blue food color-tinted’ frosting. Sprinkle sugar on the other half. (Ocean and Beach!)
Cut large celery stalks in half. Fill each half with peanut butter, cream cheese, or Nutella.
Place triangle-shaped crackers in the center of each to simulate a sail.
KISSES and FISH PRETZELS
- Checkerboard, windowpane or round-shaped pretzels
- Choice of Hershey’s Kisses of Hugs chocolates
- GoldFish snack crackers
(KidActivities used only chocolate kisses and cheese-flavored crackers–any flavor cracker will taste great!)
- Preheat oven to 170 degrees.
- Open the bags of pretzels and place them on a parchment or waxed paper-lined cookie sheets in a single layer. DO ONLY ONE TYPE OF CANDY PER SHEET because the ‘Hugs’ melt faster than the kisses.
- Unwrap Hugs or Kisses, place one on each pretzel, repeat for an entire cookie sheet.
- Place cookie sheets in the preheated oven; bake 4 MINUTES FOR THE SHEET OF pretzels and HUGS—5-6 minutes for the pretzels and KISSES. Remove from oven and immediately place a goldfish on top of each pretzel/chocolate, pressing down gently.
- Place cookie sheet in the freezer or refrigerator until the chocolate is reset. (Image/sample by KidActivities.net)
OCEAN SNACK MIX
When serving a group of kids that all like something different…Put out several ingredients. For our “Ocean Snack mix” choose from…
- Goldfish crackers, plain or cheese (Fish)
- Cheerios and/or Froot Loops (Life Savers/Life Rings)
- Pretzel sticks (Pieces of driftwood)
- Raisins, Yogurt covered raisins and/or chocolate chips (Small stones and pebbles)
- M&M’s (Colorful beach glass and stones)
- Mini marshmallows (Foam of the waves)
- Chow Mein noodles (Sea Weed)
- Put the variety of ingredients out in bowls.For some added fun–make small signs with the name of the “Ocean Themed” ingredient and place in from of each food choice. Draw or cut out pictures for children who can’t read!
- After children wash their hands–give them each a baggie. (To keep track of whose is whose – have them write their name on it) The ingredients will then go into each child’s baggie with their choice of mixes.
TIP from Snack Mix page: Let children know how much ‘measurement-wise’ they can take of offered foods; also how many choices they can have. Example: Each child can take 1/2 cup of 4 food choices offered.
FISH SWIMMING IN A JELL-O OCEAN
- A small fishbowl or clear glass bowl
- Swedish or gummy fish
- Blue Jell-O mix
- Make blue Jell-O according to directions. (The sample used blueberry)
- Pour into clear containers or fishbowl. (The sample fish bowl used in the image used 4 small packages of Jell-O with 4 cups of boiling water and 4 cups of cold water)
- Refrigerate until the Jell-O begins to thicken. Add fish–they may need to be poked down a bit to suspend them ‘Under the Sea’ or Ocean.
- For foaming waves–cover or serve with whipped cream or topping. Be sure to have extra ‘fish’ so each child gets one…
NOTE: Fish will fall to the bottom of the Jell-O–if they are put in Jell-O before it has thickened a bit. After fish are placed in the Jell-O Ocean, they also tend to soften. It is best that the Jell-O be eaten within a day after it is firm. Small white and black jelly-beans
can be placed on the bottom to look like stones.
This may also be made in individual small clear plastic cups. Image by KidActivities.net
“ANTS” IN THE BEACH SAND
- 2 Graham crackers
- Chocolate sprinkles or raisins
- Place graham crackers in a plastic sandwich bag and crush with a rolling pin.
- Add a few chocolate sprinkles or raisins to make ants; seal the bag.
- Give the bag to the kids to take outside to eat; they can also pour it into a small bowl and eat at the table (Using their fingers, of course.)
ANT HILL on the BEACH– Make edible ant hills in cups!
Use clear plastic punch cups to see the layers.
- For the ‘sand” layer–first put vanilla or butterscotch pudding into the cup.
- Crush graham crackers in a plastic Ziploc bag and pour the crumbs into the cup for the anthill “sand”.
- Add chocolate chips or raisins for the “ants”.
SANDY SHELLS (Most kids like pasta tossed in butter!)
- Pasta shells
- Butter or Margarine
- Grated Parmesan Cheese (The Sand)
Optional: After defrosting frozen spinach–drain and pat spinach (seaweed). Toss in with shells and butter.
- Following package directions–Boil shell macaroni until tender.
- Have children add butter or margarine to drained pasta. (If adding spinach–do so before butter is added)
- Sprinkle on parmesan cheese. It can also sprinkle on parsley (more seaweed) for color.
…MAKE MAC AND CHEESE adding a drop of blue food coloring…
APPLE PALM TREE ON THE BEACH
- Apple or pear slices (The palm Fronds)
- A favorite variety of graham crackers (tree trunk)
- Peanut butter–if no allergies (Beach)
- Raisins (Coconuts)
- Simply create a tree.
- Have extra ingredients to munch on!
MISCELLANEOUS OCEAN FUN
IDEA to expand on…TAKE AN OCEAN CRUISE
THEMES ARE GREAT to culminate the school year or to build day camp around! (Actually, themes are wonderful ANY time)
An example is adapted from Lori Eisner in Florida… Her last week of school is Caribbean/Ocean week.
Children imagine they’re all on a CRUISE SHIP leaving from MIAMI, FLORIDA ON MONDAY, and sailing to different islands.
PORTS OF CALL:
Tuesday: Arrive in Grand Cayman
Wednesday: Oranjestad, Aruba
Thursday: Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
On Friday: Back at school. (You can choose your own islands.)
- During the week limbo, hula,make fruit smoothies, try exotic fruits, read island books, and learn about the ocean.
- Have children wear cruise wear all week; play Caribbean music, bring beach towels and relax! (‘Water Games’ category of KidActivities)
The last day of school is a luau.
- Kids could make/wear a white T-shirt that says, “Aloha ______ 2012” with a hibiscus drawn on the front and the autographs of children on the back.
- Have children create visors; girls wear hula skirts; boys wear Bermuda shorts. Create lei’s out of beads, foam flowers, and other materials.
LITERACY AND DISCUSSION…
How Do YOU SAY_________ IN SPANISH?
- Clam – Macha
- Conch – Concha
- Crab – Cangrejo
- Fish – Pescado (As food), Pez (Alive)
- Flounder – Lenguado
- Hermit Crab – Cangrejo emerito
- Jellyfish – Medusa
- Lobster – Langosta
- Ocean – Mar
- Oyster – Ostra
- Sea Horse – Caballo de Mar
- Sea Gull – Gaviota
- Sea Star – Astrella de Mar
- Sea Urchin – Erizo de mar
- Shark – Tibaron
- Shrimp – Gamba
- Snail – Caracol
- Stingray – Raya
- Sun Star – Sol de Mar
- Wave – Ola
- Whale – Ballena
Read the RAINBOW FISH BOOKS. And then…
Make rainbow fish by coloring, painting, decorating and putting sequins on cut out fish shapes.
Make some SALT WATER…
Leave it in a warm place for a few days.Questions to ask:
What happens when salt dissolves in water? What happens to the standing salt water after a few days? Why?
ANSWER…Salt dissolves in water. That does not mean that the salt disappears when this happens.
The salt and water are mixed together in the solution. When the water evaporates, the salt is left behind. The sodium and chloride atoms rejoin with each other.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SEA AND OCEAN?
A SEAis a large body of relatively deep (usually salt) water with limited or no connection to the greater oceans of the world.
An OCEAN is a vast body of saltwater forming the interconnected waterway that surrounds the entire world. Oceans are deep and derive their currents from a complex system variable water temperatures and weather systems borne out of their varying depths and their absorption of the sun’s radiated energy.
HOW MANY OCEANS ARE THERE IN THE WORLD?
According to the NOAA, there is only one global ocean.
If you look at a map of the globe, it’s easy to see that there is really only one ocean.
While there is only one global ocean, the seas are geographically divided into the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, Arctic, and Southern (Antarctic) Oceans.
These five oceans are not separate bodies of water; they form one continuous oceanic mass. The boundaries between these five oceans arose over time for a variety of historical, cultural, geographical, and scientific reasons.
- The Pacific, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean are known as the three major oceans.
- The Southern Ocean is the ‘newest’ ocean. The boundaries of this ocean were set in 2000 by the International Hydrographic Organization.
Information Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration