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Creating an ocean theme in your preschool classroom is a fun way to get students excited about coming to school. They will walk in every morning from the hum-drum human world into a mysterious underwater land. Letting them join in on decorating the room will help give the students ownership of the room.
Not only will students learn a lot about the ocean because you will constantly be making connections to it in this environment, but there are countless ocean-related language arts, math, science, and art projects to use.
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Set the Scene
Cut long pieces of blue butcher paper and tape around walls of room (except the front wall) to represent the ocean. The paper only needs to go up a few feet off the floor. You can cut the top to look like waves. Use yellow or light brown paper for the front wall to look like sand. You can smear paste on the paper and sprinkle real sand on for added effect.
Create a palm tree out of paper or get a live palm tree (if possible based on location) and put it in the front of the room (or along the wall of sand).
Buy, reuse, borrow, or fund-raise for an aquarium or two. You can put fish, sea plants, or seahorses in an aquarium. You can also use a glass aquarium for hermit crabs- this set up is less expensive. If there are no funds available you can create an aquarium diorama.
Hang green crepe paper from the door to make it a "seaweed entrance."
Make an ocean-themed bulletin board outside the room with a sign that says:
"Welcome to Our Ocean"; "Mr./Mrs _________'s Ocean of Learning!"; or whatever you can think of.
Post class rules on a poster decorated with crabs. The first rule can read, "No Crabbing!"
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Involving the Students Through Art, Literacy, and Math
Students can each create a sea creature to decorate the room with. You can simply make it an art project after reading several books containing sea animals OR you can have the students work with their parents to learn one fact about a sea creature, create it out of any material, and bring it to school.
Here are some great ocean activities/crafts the students can do with math and literacy connections:
A Starfish Craft for Preschoolers, by Laurie Patsalides
Whale Preschool Crafts - How Does the Whale Sing? by Sonal Panse
Fun Fish Crafts for Preschool, by Tracey Bleakley
Fun with Fish: A Preschool Math Lesson, by Melissa Elizondo
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Some teachers divide their class into groups depending on which table the students sit at, by ability levels or just random choosing for rotating stations.
If you ever divide students up, you can give the groups (or let them choose) names of sea creatures or ocean-related words to be their team or group name.
Another idea is to use fishy names for classroom jobs such as line leader, calendar person, weather, etc. You can discuss with the students what creatures you can pick for each job and why.
Some examples are:
Line leader= Shark (because a shark always likes to be boss)
Calendar= Whales (because they swim to cooler water in summer)
Weather= Seagull (because it sits above the ocean and knows the weather situation)
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Be like a whale's blow hole and have a BLAST building an imaginative, wonder-filled ocean theme for your curious preschoolers.
If you would rather, read the following article for ideas on creating a classroom decoration theme of tiny, creepy, icky insects!
A Preschool Ocean Theme for the Classroom: Look What the Tide Brought In!
This series is a guide on setting up a preschool classroom that is enjoyable for both teacher and students and promotes a positive learning environment. It begins with practical tips and guidelines on what to consider and include in the room and then offers several theme-based decorating ideas.