Our last theme of the school year is the ocean. Of course, the best way to teach this would be to actually take them TO the beach, but it’s not close enough for us. Plus, our families are fortunate to visit the coast, making our preschool ocean theme that much more meaningful.
What I love about this theme is that there are so many fun ways to study shells and ocean animals! From the science table, to the art center, inside the sensory bin, on top of the light table, and in the books we read.
Here’s some of our favorites!
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Preschool Ocean Theme
During our morning meeting I like to introduce what we will be doing that day.
I read an ocean book and then brought out my basket of assorted shells. We noticed how they had different textures.
Group meetings are perfect for passing objects around, so we carefully passed the shells from one friend to the other, running our fingers across them.
Shells at the Playdough Table
My co-teacher made this playdough that same morning, so it was still warm. You can just feel it now, right? It was quite relaxing, and I’m sure that’s a big reason why all 6 chairs at the table were occupied much of centers time.
We provided rolling pins to roll the dough flat, and small shells to poke into the dough.
Shells at the Light Table
Oh, how we love our light table! While it’s fun as a surface for small world play and construction, it’s also perfect for exploring. The light highlighted the details of the shells, making them so inviting to touch.
Shells at the Science Table
Long ago, as a new teacher, I had made these colored paper starfish and had them laminated. It was for some circle time activity, I am quite sure (oh, my poor memory), but I thought they’d be fun at the science table. I also included a photograph of shells, a display of shells, and a couple of ocean discovery bottles.
Our toddlers and preschoolers love to explore at this small round table. It’s a perfect size for 1, 2, or maybe even 3 children. There is a shelf under the table to store books. I have no idea where this table was originally purchased. My co-teacher’s mom found it at a local Goodwill, along with 2 chairs. Score!
Of course, a shell must be put against the ear to “hear the ocean”!
Jellyfish at the Art Table
You can read all about this art activity here. Not only were they fun to make, but they also looked lovely hanging from our classroom ceiling.
Toddler Fish Art
Our toddlers loved stamping curved paper tube rolls onto fish-shaped paper! You can read more about that here.
Ocean Sensory Bin
I found these small fish aquarium nets and added aquarium gravel and sea animals. You can read all about it here.
The grand finale of our ocean theme was beach day with our preschoolers. They wore beach attire to school and brought their towels. We played beach music, made ice cream, and were so happy the sun was actually shining that day. Because, where we live, that’s not often the case in May.
For more advanced preschoolers, check out this ocean literacy packet!