Being so far behind in our tot school learning theme adventures, this was the perfect time to combine several learning themes. So for us, this week we explored fish, water, bodies of water, and the ocean! And what a fun time we had understand what sinking and floating meant, talking about types of fish, and exploring bodies of water.
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Toys and Books to water and bodies of water
There are tons and tons of puzzles and games that revolved around the ocean and fish. It’s not hard to find a variety of sources and very quickly. We have a fun large knob puzzle, a chunky fish puzzle, lots of bath toys, and even toys that expand in warm water like a stingray toy and those tiny grow sponges stuffed into pill capsules.
Let’s Find Koa! is our favorite ocean and fish related book. Not only does it actually give correct names for the fish, but it has a fun feature where when you pull out the fish insert, it goes from a black and white outline to a color image. This is SO fun for little learners and young eyes to see.
My Under the Sea Pop-Up Book is also one of our favorites because it has moving parts and really big pop up images. It has a huge whale, a pinching lobster, a crazy octopus and more. I find my daughter pulling that one out to look at all the time.
Priddy Books also makes a very nice ocean-theme book called Squishy Turtle and Friends which is great for quite time because it’s a cloth book. It includes everything from seaweed to an oyster shell and has a lot of textures on each page.
There are tons of great books with ocean and bodies of water themes, a few of the ones we have (but definitely not all) are displayed in the picture below.
Activities to explore the ocean, fish, and bodies of water with toddlers & preschoolers
- Start by simply exploring water! Learn with Play at Home has a great indoor set up to help little ones use all kind of resources from funnels to droppers to play with water and investigate what it is themselves for a little prepared free play.
- Pouring is a great practical life skill and an easy water game. Teach Preschool has a very helpful post explaining why pouring is important and how it can develop critical thinking skills beyond just gross motor skills.
- Play games that help your child understand the concepts of sink and float like a simple activity that you can do indoor and outdoors with recycled bottle caps and kitchen tools. Click the picture for our fun fishing for bottle caps game.
- Have fun with bath time each night and explore what water is, varying temperatures, and just have fun making bath time that much more fun!
- Go swimming or play in a small kiddie pool. (Or if all else fails, a big storage tub of water serves its purpose).
Bodies of Water & Ocean
Explore the sizes and shapes of different bodies of water. To help understand the magnitude of seas and oceans, it’s great to start small and move up. Depending on how old your child is, you can include more complex bodies of way like bays, but for young toddlers, lakes, rivers, and the sort are just fine.
- Go puddle jumping
- Visit the closest river or lake to take a swim or spend the day on the shore.
- Pretend to be a sailor in the bathtub as if out at sea.
- Have fun with ocean learning by making your own sensory bin.
Fish, Sharks, Dolphins, and Underwater Life
- Visit an aquarium. You might even find out what fish and under water life they have in advance and create a scavenger hunt for them to look at before going. This will help them get excited and enhance their experience while there.
- Go fishing… or to Red Lobster.
- Buy a fish. Beta are really hard to kill especially if you get a water-based plant that they can eat on (the roots). I had one in college, Officer Goodtimes, that lived for 3 years and he maybe didn’t get all the attention he should have but was a hearty little guy. This could be your child’s first personal pet, of course, buy at your own discretion.
- Work on the differences between dolphins, whales, and sharks. It may save your child’s life 😉
- Make your own boat craft. Red Ted Art did a great round up of 20 different boat crafts that you could test out with your tot. Have fun and if they like it, make another!
- Let’s Play Music has a video, lyrics, and activity to enjoy for Row, Row, Row Your Boat.
- Go to a beach or local shore. This can be at a lake, a river, ocean, or anywhere. If this is just not an option, there has to be a sandbox just waiting for some beach pretend play.
- Create a toddler-safe sensory bin and make your own sand out of flour and oil like this great beach play set-up from Fun A Day.
Bible verse of the week John 7:38 “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
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Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!