When teaching an ocean preschool theme, there’s nothing more a preschooler loves than the water bin. Especially on a hot summer day. Add some bubbles and some sea animal toys and an ocean sensory bin like this one will definitely be a huge hit! But there’s more than just the ocean your preschooler will learn about.
An ocean theme has to be one of the best preschool themes! There’s just something about the ocean that is so fascinating. For my preschoolers, it’s partly the fact that the nearest coastline is at least 10 hours away, so much of what my preschoolers know about the ocean come from activities like this one.
And their curiosity is endless, which makes an ocean theme all the more fun to teach. It’s seriously one of those themes where you teach an inch wide and a mile deep.
This ocean sensory bin is just one activity in our ocean of activities. (I know, clever, huh?)
Hide and Seek Ocean Animal Sensory Bin
In full disclosure, this is a water bin, but there’s a definite sensory piece to it, too.
- water table or mixing tub
- liquid dish soap
- ocean animal toys
- food coloring or liquid watercolors (optional)
Fill the water table or mixing tub with 1-2 inches of water. Add ocean animal toys and set aside.
Using a stand mixer or egg beaters, beat 1/4 cup of liquid dish soap with 1/2 cup of water. Add a few drops or blue or green food coloring. Beat well, until the soap turns foamy, like the ocean. Scoop the soapy foam into the water bin.
Depending on the size of your water table, you may need to do a few batches. And given that we are working with soap suds, this step can’t really be done in advance. The water bin will be most foamy immediately after it is made.
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The Ocean Sensory Bin Play
When I offered this water bin to my preschoolers, I didn’t tell them about the ocean animals hidden under the soap foam. That was a complete surprise to them!
Initially, they just kinda’ looked, but didn’t touch it. Then one preschooler asked, “What do we do?” “Whatever you would like,” I said.
It didn’t take long for the children to get elbow deep in the soap foam, and they were delighted to find ocean animals that had been hidden in the bin.
The children swished the water, stirring up the foam and the animals. They dove their hands into the water to find the hidden animals, so excited to find one, and we practiced naming them.
And then, what I loved the most, was when the children started to experiment with the soap bubbles. And look at what we discovered:
This preschooler got her hands all sudsy, and then played with the bubbles, finding that she could put her finger through the bubble without popping it! She felt magical!
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What My Preschoolers Learned
Sensory bins are an important part of any preschool program. Here are just a few things they learned by exploring this ocean sensory bin:
- ocean animals and names
- ocean animal parts (tentacles, beak, fin, claw, etc.)
- the difference between wet and dry
- that bubbles can be made and destroyed
- that bubbles are made of a thin film of soap with air inside
- fine motor skills
- language skills by talking about what they were seeing and feeling
- following directions
- and much, much more!