Ocean Life Theme for Preschool

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This Ocean Life Theme page is filled with preschool lesson plans, activities and ideas for your classroom.

There are so many more activities and ideas that can be added to this theme!  

Go for it!  Add your seashells, fish and other theme ideas to create a month long Beach or Ocean Theme!

Let the Theme Planning Begin!

You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities or click the link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.

Click here or the picture to the left to go to the 

Preschool Pirates Theme Page!

Ocean Life Theme Art

Swimming Octopus

Materials Needed: White paper plates cut in half, fabric or streamers, googly eyes, markers

The children decorate the paper plate half with markers and glue googly eyes on.

They glue strips of fabric or streamers to it and hang for some swimming Octopi!


Materials: Posterboard with starfish drawn on them, scissors, dry oatmeal or sand, glue

The children cut out their starfish. They brush on glue and sprinkle on dry oatmeal or sand.

Group Fishing Art

Materials needed: dowel rods or rulers; yarn; paint brushes; paint; large mural paper

Tie paintbrushes from dowel rods or rulers.

The children dip the brushes into the paint by holding the dowel rod or ruler. They paint on the mural paper the same way.

Magnetic Painting

Materials Needed: metal cookie sheets, a few unit blocks, paint, round ball shaped magnets, magnet wants, paper

Place paper in the cookie sheet. Place different colors of paint on the paper.

Place the magnet balls on the paper.

Place the cookie sheet on a few unit blocks to elevate it.

The children place the magnet wand under the cookie sheet and move it around to move the magnets through the paint!

Ocean Life Painting

Materials Needed: Provide blue and green fingerpaint. They can make waves. When dried, glue on fish stickers!

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Ocean Life Theme Block Center Ideas

Add ocean life stuffed animals for the children to build coral reefs for!

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Ocean Life Theme Circle Time Ideas

Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your theme!

Jelly Fish

In advance, cut out different colors of jelly fish to use on the flannel board. You could also attach each one to a craft stick for fun!

(song is sung to My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean)

This jelly fish lives in the ocean.

This jelly fish lives in the sea.

This jelly fish lives in the ocean.

Oh, (name color of jelly fish) jelly fish swim by me!

What Doesn't Belong

Materials Needed: Provide 4 pictures of ocean items and one unrelated (such as a bicycle). Ask which does not belong. Bring a lot of pictures to play over and over.

Where Does Sand Come From

Materials needed: Metal coffee cans, rocks, paper towels

Place the paper towel around the rock. Place it in the can and cover it. The children take turns shaking the can. When you remove the rock from the can and unwrap it, you'll see sand in the towel!

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Snack Recipe Ideas to Cook Up for Your Ocean Life Theme!

Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation!

Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific theme questions while making these fun snacks!

Go Fishing!

Ingredients and Items needed: celery stalks (cut into 4-inch pieces), cream cheese, goldfish crackers, plastic knife

Put cream cheese in a bowl and gold fish in another.

The children spread the cream cheese onto the celery and then place some goldfish on top.

Starfish Cookies

Ingredients and Items Needed: Bread, butter, grated cheese, star shaped cookie cutters

The children use the cookie cutter on the bread. Then spread butter on their star and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Toast them in the oven and eat when cool.

Cinnamon Sea Snails

Ingredients and items needed: refrigerated crescent roll dough, butter, cinnamon and sugar.

Separate the crescent rolls into triangles. The children spread butter on one side and sprink the cinnamon and sugar over the butter.

Starting with one end of the triangle, roll them into a spiral.

Bake as directed; let cool and enjoy.

Ocean Life Milkshakes

For each milkshake, add 3/4 cup of vanilla frozen yougurt, a drop of blue food coloring and 1/4 cup of 2% milk.

The children gently stir and pour into a cup! Add some fruit in fish shapes!

Counting Fish

Provide muffin tins with numbers placed in each compartment. Give the children goldfish crackers to sort into the tins (and, of course, to eat some!).

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Ocean Life Theme Ideas to Transform Your Dramatic Play Area

Going to the Beach

Provide beach bags that are packed with towels, sunglasses, visors, pails, shovels, empty suntan lotion containers, plastic snack food, swimmies and other items you can think of!

Aquatic Pet Store

toy cash register, play money, play telephone, crayons, paper, plastic fish floating in plastic tubs to scoop out and sell.

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Ocean Life Theme Ideas for Your Easel--

More Than Just Painting (Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom)!

Fish Rubbings

Tape different sized paper fish on the easel. Hang a large piece of white paper over them. Provide crayons with the paper peeled off. Show the children how to rub the paper with the sides of the crayons.

Encourage the children to count how many fish they discovered.

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Ocean Life Theme Large Group Activities

to help your children build their muscles while they have fun together!

Crab Walking

Have the children practice walking like crabs. See if they can crab walk fast, slow, forward and backwards!

Ocean Life In the Dell!

Play an ocean life version of Farmer in the Dell:

The shark under the sea, the shark under the sea.

Splish, Splash, Splish, Splash

The shark under the sea.

The shark takes an octopus,

The octopus takes a hermit crab,

The hermit crab takes lobster, Etc.

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Ocean Life Theme Ideas for Your Library and Literacy Area

Fingerplays and Flannel Stories

5 Little Fish

In advance, cut out 5 fish to use at circle or on your flannel board.

Five little fish swimming by the shore.

One got caught, and then there were four.

Four little fish swimming in the sea.

One got caught, and then there were three.

Three little fish swimming in the blue.

One got caught and then there were two.

Two little fish swimming in the sun.

One got caught, and then there was one.

One little fish, swimming for home.

Decided it was best to never roam.

5 Little Seashells

In advance, make 5 seashells to use on your flannel board or use real seashells.

Five little sea shells lying on the shore.

Swish went the waves and then there were four.

Four little sea shells cozy as could be.

Swish went the waves and then there were three.

Three little sea shells all pearly new.

Swish went the waves and then there were two.

Two little sea shells sleeping in the sun.

Swish went the waves and then there was one.

One little sea shell left all alone

Whispered, "SHHHHHHHHH" as I took it home.

Book Suggestions for the Library

A House for Hermit Crab (The World of Eric Carle) by Eric Carle

AN Octopus Followed Me Home by Dan Yaccarino

Eric Carle's Animals Animals by Laura Whipple

Big Al by Andrew Clements

Down by the Bay (Raffi Songs to Read) by Raffi

How to Hide an Octopus and Other Sea Creatures (Reading Railroad) by Ruther Heller

Ibis: A True Whale Story (Wiggleworks) by John Himmelman

Little Fish, Big Fish (Cartwheel Books) by Frank Asch

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Seahorse (A Science I can read book) by Robert a. Morris

Swimmy by Leo Lionni

Zoobooks is a great magazine to have for your Library as well! Click the link below to go to their website for information about subscribing (they often have a special running....like $5 off an annual subscription).

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Ocean Life Theme Math and Manipulatives Ideas 

to help your preschoolers develop math skills and those small muscles in their hands!

Sea Shell Sorting

Provide a large variety of shells for the children to sort by color, size, texture, etc.

Fish Patterns

Precut many (MANY) different colors of fish shapes! Encourage the children to use them to create patterns or to use as a memory game.

Milk Cap Game

Use milk caps to stick ocean life stickers onto. Flip over the milk caps to play a fun memory game.

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Ocean Life Theme Music and Movement Ideas 

to get your preschoolers Movin' and Groovin'!

Fish Freeze Dance

The children should "swim" while the music is playing and then freeze when it stops.


2 Rainbow Fish sung to Three Blind Mice

Two rainbow fish,

Two rainbow fish,

See how they swim,

See how they swim.

Their tails go left and their tails go right,

Their beautiful colors are quite a sight,

Did you ever see such a sight so bright

As two rainbow fish.

5 Little Fishes

This is a take on 5 Little Monkeys!

Five little fishes swimming in the sea.

Teasing Mr. Shark: You cant catch me!

Along came Mr. Shark as quiet as could be and........SNAP!

Four little fishes swimming in the sea... continue until no little fishes are swimming in the sea!

5 Little Fish (sung to 5 Little Ducks)

Five little fish went swimming one day.

Over the sea and far away.

When the mommy fish called "Come back! Come back!"

Only four little fish came swimming back.

Continue the song until no little fish came back and then sing,

"then a great big whale came swimming past and five little fish swam back so fast!"

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Ocean Life Theme Ideas for Your Sand and Water Table!

Sink or Float?

Have items available for the children to use to see if they will sink or float in your water table.

Some suggestions: paper clip, sponge, crayon, plastic straw, etc.

Have the children guess if it will sink or float before dropping it in.

Sand Table

Materials: Add seashells and plastic sea animals to your sand table for some fun.

In the Sea

Place blue food coloring in the water. Add red ice cubes to make purple!

Extension: Add fishing nets and plastic fish as well!

Slimy Jellyfish

Materials: combine 8 ounces of glue, 1 cup of water and several drops of blue paint. Mix.

In a larger bowl, combine 1 cup of water; 1 1/2 teaspoons of Borax Powder and stir until the powder is dissolved.

Pour the glue mixture into into the Borax mixture. Stir until it forms a solid blob. Drain out excess water.

The children will love using this. Be careful, it will stick to carpets!

Pretend the slime is a jellyfish. Place out some small plastic ocean life creatures for the jellyfish to "eat"!

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Ocean Life Theme Science Ideas for Your Preschool Scientists in Training!

Discovery Bottles

Materials Needed: Clear soda bottles make great discovery bottles. You can use small water bottles or large 2-liter bottles!

Sand and Ocean Discovery Bottle: add rocks, sea shells, sand and water. The children shake the jar to see it all separate. Discuss with the children that sand is formed by waves pushing rocks against each other.

Wave Bottle: Fill bottle about half full with water. Add a few drops of blue food coloring and shake well. Fill the rest of the jar with mineral oil...fill this right to the top. Hot glue the top on. Hold the bottle sideways and gently tip it to create waves.

Extension: You can add sequins or sequin fish shapes for fun also! We've also added plastic sea animals such as sharks or other fish.

I Spy Bottle:

Fill a plastic bottle with sand. Drop ocean items or any familiar items into it. When the children turn the the bottle around, encourage them to name the items they see.

Beach Playdough

Materials needed: Make or purchase brown play dough. Mix sand into it for texture.

Magnetic Fish

Materials needed: Pre-cut fish, paper clips, rulers or dowel rods, magnetic circles

Tie one end of yarn to the edge of the ruler. Tie a magnetic circle onto the other end of the yarn.

Attach a paper clip to each of the pre-cut fish.

Go fishing!

Water, Water Everywhere!

Materials needed: 4 baby food jars, water from different sources (tap, pond, ocean water and fish tank water) and magnifying glasses.

Investigate each type of water with the children and record their observations of differences.

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Writing Activity Ideas for your Ocean Life Theme!

Ocean Life Stencils

Materials Needed: Different themed stencils, colored pencils and paper

Encourage the children to tell stories about their pictures and write them down.

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