Both of my kids love learning about ocean life. My oldest has been able to explore this topic with several of our homeschool curriculum choices through the years, but my preschooler hasn’t been as lucky. She’s just as interested as her big brother, but we’ve barely touched on ocean life through her curriculum in these early years of homeschooling. That’s left me putting together my own preschool ocean unit to help her explore on her level.
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The great thing about an ocean-themed unit study is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or stressful for you or your little learner. There are loads of fantastic resources available to help your preschooler learn about life under the sea.
Even better, I’ve just finished exploring ocean life with my daughter and I’ve done all of the research for you. Here’s a look at what I found for an easy ocean unit study.
Preschool Ocean Unit Resources
I came across several good primary resources for our ocean unit. Two of these primary resources are printable packs: a printable pack based on one of our favorite Eric Carle books and one I used with my youngest to cover Letter O when we were beginning preschool at home.
The other two resources are internet-based and connected to TV programming that includes a wealth of knowledge about ocean life.
- Exploring the Ocean with a Hermit Crab
- O is for Ocean Animals Pack
- Octonauts page on Disney Junior
- Creaturepedia from Wild Kratts
Preschool Ocean Unit – What to Read
Most of the ocean-themed books at your local library would make a great addition to your preschool ocean unit. While there’s not necessarily a magic combination to use, I suggest reading a good mix of non-fiction books with your preschooler along with the storybooks you choose.
Here are some of the ocean books we’ve enjoyed:
- Swimmy by Leo Lionni
- What Lives in the Ocean? by Oona Gaardner-Juntti
- Science in Seconds by Jean Potter
- The Magic School Bus Presents Sea Creatures by Tom Jackson
- Secrets of the Seashore by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner
- Following the Coast by Jim Arnosky
- The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole
- The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
- A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
Preschool Ocean Unit – What to Watch
There are several good options when it comes to including TV and movies in your preschool ocean unit. Here are the favorites in our home:
- Octonauts – This entire series is great to spur interest in ocean life.
- Magic School Bus – This series may be not be a good match for all early learners, but there are a couple of episodes that go well with an ocean unit, specifically Magic School Bus Gets Eaten (Season 1, Episode 4) and Magic School Bus goes to the Beach (Season 4, Episode 2).
- Finding Nemo – This selection is primarily for fun, but is a great way to get your little ones interested in ocean life.
- The Real Nemo – This link includes the video clip, lesson plan, and study guide. It’s a great way to capitalize on the interest of preschoolers who love Finding Nemo.
Hands-On Preschool Ocean Unit Fun
The best way to get hands-on for an ocean unit study is to visit an aquarium, but that kind of field trip isn’t always possible. The next best thing is to present your preschooler with toys that engage and encourage further learning.
Our ocean study was actually inspired by our playtime with Lil’ Fishys fish toys. If they can serve as inspiration for a unit study, naturally these Lil’ Fishys would make a nice addition to any preschool ocean unit! They have been great hands-on fun, but have also spurred further learning and exploration.
The hands-on fun doesn’t stop with fish toys! Here are some other toy ideas for an easy ocean unit:
- Melissa and Doug Underwater Floor Puzzle
- Ocean Dominoes
- Under the Sea Ocean Counters
- Ocean Science Discovery Box
- Hatch and Grow Ocean Animals
Ocean Unit Art
Don’t forget art in your ocean unit study! Here are some fun and creative ideas to enhance your preschooler’s underwater exploration:
- How to Paint a Starfish – This is a super-cute art activity from Art for Kids Hub. Your little one will love it!
- Tape Resist Clown Fish – The tape resist aspect of this project is great for preschoolers because it helps them with the clown fish stripes.
- Origami Sea Life Kit – Your preschooler may need some help with Origami, but this kit is still lots of fun. My little one loved doing this with some help from big brother!
- Jellyfish Sun Catcher – I love the use of tissue paper in this craft. It’s perfect for younger preshoolers who aren’t quite ready for painting and drawing.
Ocean Unit Snacks
There are lots of fun and easy snack ideas to go along with your preschool ocean unit. One of our favorites is Ocean Cakes and involves a few simple ingredients:
- white cheddar rice cakes
- cream cheese
- blue food coloring
- goldfish crackers
This snack is easy-peasy to put together. Mix the blue food coloring and cream cheese, then spread mixture on rice cakes. Lastly, let your little one add goldfish crackers to the ocean cake as desired.
There are plenty of other snacks to enjoy in while you’re learning about ocean life. Here are some good ones to consider:
There you have it: suggestions for books, movies, play ideas, art projects, and snacks. You can add more if you like, but that’s all you need to help your preschooler learn about ocean life and have fun in the process.
Have you studied ocean life with your kids? What worked best for your family? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!