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Taking Your Preschoolers to the Ocean

written by: jennyflores • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 9/6/2012

Let your preschoolers create an ocean mural. Not only will they learn about many fascinating creatures but an ocean theme provides learning opportunities in math, science, and art as well as improvement of gross motor skills.

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    Let's Get Started!

    To create an ocean mural you will need five large lengths of paper.

    • The bottom layer of the ocean is the hadalpelagic zone (the trenches). This layer is represented with black paper. Starfish and tube worms are found in the trenches.
    • The next layer should be a very dark blue paper. This is the abyssopelagic zone (the abyss). In the abyss you can find deep water squid, octopus, basket stars, sea pigs, sea spiders, shrimp, and the medusa.
    • Use a slightly lighter blue paper to represent the bathypelagic zone (the midnight zone). Gulper eel, giant squid, vampire squid, viperfish, dragonfish, and lizardfish live in this zone.
    • The next zone, the mesopelagic zone (the twilight zone), should be represented with an even lighter blue paper. You will find swordfish, wolf eels, and cuttlefish here.
    • For the top layer of the ocean, the epipelagic zone (the sunlight zone), you will find algae and microscopic plants. This paper should be a very light blue.

    When you look at the lengths of paper that will be the foundation of your mural, you will see how the colors represent the amount of light that reaches each zone.

    You will be able to display your preschoolers' artwork on the mural. Show them pictures of the creatures found in the zone you are working on. Let them draw their own version of one of the animals you have shown. Your preschoolers can make a jellyfish by painting an upside down paper bowl. When it dries attach crepe paper streamers to the inside rim of the bowl.

    A language component of your ocean preschool theme lesson would be to list and discuss fun activities that can take place in the ocean or at the seashore. Ask students to share examples of fun things they can do when they visit the ocean. Some possible examples of answers might be: fish, swim, build sand castles and ride in a boat.

    Using chart paper, list some of these ocean activity words for all to see. One idea is to alternate writing the words in blue (for the ocean) and yellow (for the sand) to make each word stand out.

    If it is not introduced spontaneously, remind the students that another fun activity to do when visiting the ocean is to surf. Add the word "surf" to your list. You can then have the students color pictures of themselves surfing, and add the images to your ocean preschool theme mural.

    A terrific resource for printable surf pictures to color is ZiggityZoom.com. Ziggity Zoom has a variety of games, activities, coloring projects and stories that children, parents and teachers will find both educational and unique.

    When you have completed your ocean activity word chart, display it in the room. It will make a handy reference for students looking to spell ocean-related activity words!

    For math, have your preschoolers make sea urchins. They need to select a card with a number on it. They must stick that many spines (toothpicks) into a play dough ball. Now arrange your sea urchins according to the number of spines they have. Not only are you working on number recognition and ordering, but you can also talk about the concept of more than/less than.

    Provide several different objects at the water table so your preschoolers will be able to experiment with objects that sink and float. It is fun to introduce the objects that will be at the water table in the morning and have your preschoolers guess which ones will sink and which will float. Regroup toward the end of the day and see which predictions were accurate.

    Two fun ideas that fit with the ocean preschool theme are crab walk races and ocean in a bottle. To make an ocean in a bottle you will need to fill an empty water bottle half full of oil. Add blue food coloring and fill to the neck with water. You can add sparkles or miniature plastic sea creatures. Hot glue the lid to the bottle and watch your preschoolers have fun creating their own ocean waves.

    A fun way to end the ocean preschool theme is with a pool or sprinkler party.

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