Sun, salt, sand…it’s that time of the year when the ocean is on our minds! This engaging ocean preschool theme is full of ways to bring the ocean to your preschoolers, and all in tidy printable ocean-themed lesson plans.
Here you’ll find 15+ ideas for an ocean preschool theme, including book lists, art and sensory play, literacy activities, and some math and science fun. Plus, the preschool ocean lesson plans are all typed up into a neat document available to download (for FREE) at the end of this post!
Free Ocean Activities for Preschoolers Including Free Preschool Lesson Plans
I’ll admit it: teaching an ocean theme with my preschoolers is my ultimate favorite theme. There is SO much to learn about and it’s just as fascinating to the kiddos as it is to me. I always learn something new about an unfamiliar ocean creature, and it’s a great opportunity for messy, fun art. It feels like the best way to introduce summer!
And whether you can get to the actual ocean or not, an ocean theme for preschool is loads of fun on its own!
FAQ About an Ocean Preschool Theme
Read, explore, and play! Begin by asking the children what questions they have about the ocean or something that they want to learn more about. Devote time to learning about aquatic animals and their special characteristics. Help children identify what they might see at the ocean shore such as shells, seaweed, or sand. Consider introducing an ocean sensory bin for children to interact, play, and learn with!
Preschoolers should be able to: recognize and identify different kinds of common ocean animals, share a few details about various ocean creatures, recognize that some animals are large predators (sharks and killer whales) while others are bottom feeders, compare animals that live in the ocean/those that don’t, and understand that the ocean produces over half of the world’s oxygen. It’s also important that we teach our young children to keep the ocean trash-free and support efforts to recycle and reuse.
Help preschoolers understand that the ocean needs our help. Keep plastic out of the ocean by using reusable drinking and lunch containers. Participate in an ocean/body of water cleanup. Invite the preschoolers to brainstorm ways that they can help the ocean and ocean animals for our future.
Engaging Preschool Activities for an Ocean Theme
Learn about the many aspects of the ocean with fun and play! We’ve put together over 15 delightful activities covering science, math, literacy, and art to keep with your ocean preschool lesson plans.
Literacy Activities for an Ocean Theme
Seashell Name Recognition Activity – This activity is simple to set up and is perfect for helping your preschooler recognize their name. Using a permanent marker, write your preschooler’s name letter-by-letter inside a variety of seashells. Mix in some additional seashells and add a little bit of sand to a bin, and invite your preschooler to go on a letter hunt. Write your preschooler’s name on a piece of paper close by so they can match up their name and arrange the seashells correctly.
Beach Prewriting Cards – Channel your inner beach with these fun prewriting cards. Print and use in lots of ways to help build hand strength. Use with a pencil in the typical way or use liquid glue and sprinkle sand on top for a tactile experience. Or cut with scissors along the lines for a real challenge. No matter how you use them, they’ll be full of fun!
Don’t Forget the Ocean Picture Books!
One of the best ways to teach preschoolers about any theme is by hand-selecting the highest-quality picture books! This is a book list for our best-loved picture books for an ocean theme.
Math and Science Activities for an Ocean Theme
Fish Number Sequencing Puzzle – This one-page printable is perfect for building number recognition and even helps your preschooler count backward. Simply cut apart the number strips and get to work! Another fun way to use this puzzle is to hide the pieces around the room and encourage your child to come back to the table and determine where each number goes.
Five Little Fishies Song and Counting – This catchy little rhyme and the incorporation of fish snack crackers makes this game a preschool favorite! Encourage the children to “snap” up the cracker after each rhyme and gobble it up like a shark!
Salt Water Science Experiment – Using 4 glasses of water and a few household ingredients, this experiment is a deeper look into sink/float and gives your preschooler a better understanding of why it’s easier for things to float in saltwater than in regular water. The baking soda often causes trapped gas which means the items might just hover in the middle!
Playful Learning Activities for an Ocean Theme
Ocean Bug Hunt – The ocean is full of animals that look just like bugs; they’re called crustaceans. Head outside on a nice day and look for bugs in your backyard! Bring a journal to draw about them or a net to catch and release them. Or look up crustaceans online and draw some comparisons.
Strainer and Pipe Cleaners – Grab some colorful pipe cleaners and a pasta strainer and invite your preschooler to push the pipe cleaners through the holes. It’s almost like making the tentacles of a sea anemone.
Cardboard Box Fort – Even ocean animals need a place to hide from predators. Grab some cardboard boxes and create a fort! Add in pillows, blankets, light…anything to make a cozy hiding place!
Social-Emotional Activities for an Ocean Theme
Pout-Pout Fish Solves a Problem – Go to YouTube and read The Pout-Pout Fish Cleans Up the Ocean by Deborah Diesen. After reading, discuss the problem in the story. How did the other fish help Pout-Pout fish clean up the trash in the ocean? Is trash in the ocean a real-life problem? How could we help solve that problem in our oceans and beaches? Encourage your child to be a problem-solver and come up with ideas and ways to help solve community and world problems.
Beach Ball Bounce – Grab an inflatable beach ball and a permanent marker for this fun learning activity. Draw different feeling faces on various sides of the beach ball (scared, happy, sad, angry, surprised, grumpy, excited, etc.). Roll or bounce the beach ball to your preschooler and tell him or her to share the emotion that their hand touched when they grabbed the ball. Invite them to share an “I feel…” statement for each turn. “I feel scared when my room is dark, but sleeping with a nightlight makes me feel better!”
Just Plain Fun Activities for an Ocean Theme
Salt Dough Starfish – This unique dough recipe allows the starfish to puff up with a bit of bumpy texture on the outside. It really looks and feels like a real starfish! Plus, you can paint or color it to make it even more colorful.
Ocean Animal Sensory Bin – With some ocean animal toys, this bin is bound to be a favorite! What makes this sensory bin special is the soapy foam that will remind you of the foam from the ocean’s waves. Your preschooler will love feeling and experimenting with this magical soap!
Paper Bag Jellyfish – Using paper bags, paint, and scissors, turn simple brown bags into lively jellyfish! Add some colorful paint and cut the tentacles to resemble a real-life jellyfish.
Get Online Activities for an Ocean Theme
Online Story – Go to YouTube and listen to the story Hello Ocean by Pam Munoz Ryan. After listening, ask your preschooler to think about all five of their senses (see, hear, touch, taste, smell). How can you hear the ocean? What about your other senses? Can you taste the ocean? Draw a detailed picture of your best day at the ocean!
Animals in the Ocean Song – Learn about jellyfish, clams, crabs, and more with this catchy oceanside song and dance.
There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea – Listen along to this fast-paced, rhythmic story and follow all the ocean animals to the hole in the bottom of the sea!
Get Your FREE Ocean Lesson Plans Here
Loving these hands-on activities? Ready to grab your free printable lesson plans with all these ocean theme activities for preschoolers?!
They’re all yours! I’ve made a printable for you. Just fill out the form below and it will be sent to your inbox.
Make Your Ocean Theme Even Better
Sometimes (not always), what turns a great preschool theme into an exceptional one is having some extra special materials specific to that theme. These are some of the ocean toys and activity kits I like to use with my preschoolers.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.