Inside: We like to have our beach theme just as we are wrapping up the school year, when the weather is warmer and some children have experienced beach outings with their families. We set up a small world beach area, went pretend fishing, and made some ocean discovery bottles while learning about different ocean animals.
There is so much learning taking place when we have our beach and ocean theme!
Over the years we have acquired a nice collection of various shells and pretend ocean animals. These allow us to create several learning centers where we explore textures and sizes, as well as small world activities that invite the children to have fun with pretend play.
We have bins with water, fish, and nets.
Our dramatic play area has been turned into a beach scene, with hats and sunglasses and ice cream.
There are fiction and non-fiction beach and ocean books displayed in our reading area and seahorses to color at the writing table. (Scroll down for free printables!)
Setting Up the Beach Theme in the Toddler and Preschool Classroom
It’s always nice when children can explore the real thing during any theme. While we couldn’t take the children to the beach, we did have opportunities to visit the fish aquarium in our preschool’s building.
After we visited the real aquarium in our hallway, we explored pretend sea life in our sensory bin.
We filled the bin with water, added the ocean animals, and provided nets for catching and releasing them.
You can see more here: Super Simple Toddler Ocean Sensory Bin
Beach Small World
We turned our train table into a beach theme by covering it with blue and tan paper and adding lots of loose parts, plastic boats, shells, and sea animals.
It was beach day in our dramatic play area!
We had sunglasses and beach hats, ocean stuffed animals and puppets, and our brand-new ice cream cone set.
This tied in nicely with the beach day we had that week when we made real ice cream!
We also had sand pails to fill and carry around the classroom.
We took our favorite magnetic fishing activity and turned it into color sorting fun.
I cut and laminated paper that were the same colors as the fish.
As the children pulled the fish out of the water, they placed them on the matching colored rectangles.
We had more skill-building happening at our activity table.
I used the fish template printable (scroll down to find it) and cut out fish in different colors of construction paper.
The children then stamped paint onto them using empty thread spools.
You can read more about how we made these fish here.
We also painted seahorse-shaped paper on the easel. (But, as you can see in the photo below, the children also painted around the seahorse, too, which is why we placed a big sheet of paper behind it.)
Ocean Discovery Bottles
These were so fun!
You can read more about how we made these here.
Oh, and that Simplay3 In and Out Activity table? It’s been the best ever! You can hear more about it here.
Toddler and Preschool Ocean Lesson Plans
We’ve done the work for you! We now have interactive thematic lesson plans for toddlers (18-36 months) AND preschoolers (3-5 years)!
I helped create these lesson plans along with a talented group of early childhood educators and home schoolers.
Easy to follow lesson plans include activity modifications and adaptations to meet the needs of all learners.
These activities come in a digital format. That means after you make a purchase, the links to the activities will arrive in an email.
For more information, click on the graphics below: