Summer is almost here which means it’s time to revisit a favorite preschool theme. Ocean theme! And what preschooler doesn’t love to play with some seashells and seafoam green and blue-hued, salty like the ocean, playdough? I haven’t met one who doesn’t, so I can always count on an ocean-themed playdough invitation to play to be a hit!
The Easiest Ocean Themed Playdough Invitation to Play
There’s something about seashells. They are these beautiful chunks of calcium carbonate that used to house mollusks in the ocean. They shine with an iridescent luster that is hard to reproduce with man-made materials and their shapes can be incredibly intricate or very basic.
There’s just something about them, right?
I mean, think about it…when was the last time you walked along the beach and didn’t stop to pick up and look closely at a seashell?
I don’t know this for a fact, but I imagine seashells are like snowflakes. Everyone is different, which makes them even more special.
But when my preschoolers happen upon a box of various seashells, which is what happens during our ocean theme, they cannot help but question how it came about, how and why its shape was made, and what kind of animal, exactly, lived in it at one time ago.
Some of my preschoolers like to carry the seashells around in their pockets like treasures. My toddler aged son, in fact, puts seashells in the cargo pockets of his shorts, and then pulls them out, carries them carefully with his hands outstretched and says, “Mommy! See my seashells?!”
This is why I love offering my preschoolers some seashells to use in an ocean themed playdough invitation to play. It’s just seashells and playdough, however using their hands to play and change the playdough with the seashells is a perfect way to start their questions rolling since seashells play a large part in our ocean theme.
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Materials for Ocean Themed Playdough Invitation to Play
The materials list is as short or as long as you’d like it to be.
- favorite playdough recipe
- a variety of seashells
Now, when I make the comment above about the length of the list of materials, it’s because you can offer your preschooler a simple set of seashells found at the dollar store, or you can offer a large variety of seashells so your preschoolers and toddlers can explore all sorts of different seashell shapes. Add even more interest by purchasing seashells with an array of textures and colors, too.
Two-Ingredient Playdough Recipe
Now, you can use any favorite playdough recipe for this invitation to play. I’ve used lot of different recipes for them. But for this one, in particular, I used a corn starch and conditioner recipe. It makes the silliest, smoothest, yummiest smelling playdough ever!
You should try this two-ingredient playdough recipe.
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How to Set Up a Seashell Playdough Invitation to Play
I get asked this a lot.
“Ok. I have the materials. Now how do I set up a playdough invitation to play?”
The answer is more simple than you think. You just arrange the materials in an attractive manner. In this invitation to play, I just fanned out the playdough colors and “sprinkled” the seashells in around them.
It really wasn’t a special arrangement, but it was enticing enough to pique my preschoolers’ interest and curiosity. And that’s one of the main goals of setting up an invitation to play!
How the Preschoolers Played with the Playdough
Most of my preschoolers began by flattening out their playdough so they could make prints of the seashells. They used them to press the exterior shape into the playdough, revealing their lines and scalloped edges.
They used them like cookie cutters, cutting away the outlying playdough to create a cookie-like shape.
Don’t underestimate the wows that will ensure here. Preschoolers always think this is so cool!
I offered a few different colors of playdough, and not just because it makes the playdough invitation to play more inviting, but also because preschoolers can’t resist mixing the colors together.
That’s a really good thing!
Playdough makes the best hand strengthening material as children push and squeeze, building the muscles in their whole hand, and even in their forearms and core. So go ahead and let your preschooler mix all the colors together.
Some of the preschoolers wanted to fill the seashells, so they broke off tiny bits of playdough to smoosh into the shells. Others wanted to see how many seashells they could fit on their patty of playdough. They learned that it depended a lot on how flat they could roll out their playdough pancake as well as how big the seashells were.
Other preschoolers rolled their seashells into the playdough, hiding them, only to pick apart the playdough to reveal the seashells again. And some preschoolers even lined up the seashells in rows of playdough.
Here’s the thing about an ocean themed invitation to play…
Preschoolers love it! And with just a few seashells that can be purchased at a minimal cost and some playdough that is even cheaper to make, once introduced this easily becomes a favorite activity in our ocean theme.
Looking for Some Ocean Printables?
You might like some of these. Just click the images.
How About Some Ocean Themed Preschool Centers?
Splish, Splash! It’s summer time which means it’s ocean time!
Do you have a budding oceanographer? This ocean activity pack is for your little one. Packed full of uniquely hands-on, printable ocean activities, preschoolers love learning about their favorite swimming animals with these ocean activities.
This pack contains six fun and educational ocean activities appropriate for preschool through kindergarten. Three activities are math based, three are literacy based. All are fun!
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.