Why I Created This Kit:
There is a whole different world that lies just beyond our eyes. When you go out to enjoy a day at the beach, it is easy to forget that there is a thriving, beautiful and complex world lying below the surface. I invite you to take your child on an underwater adventure to learn about all the exciting features of our vast oceans. From learning about amazing underwater sea creatures to promoting basic school-readiness skills alongside some ocean friends, this kit is perfect for any child that is ready to experience some under the sea fun.
Before starting this kit, open up the conversation about the ocean with your child. See what exactly they know about the ocean, if anything. Ask them about their favorite sea creatures and have them describe them to you. What sounds do you think that that particular ocean creature makes? What do they eat?
Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone (Ages 2-5)
What I love about this book: Your child can experience the beauty of a coral reef while learning skills of rhyming. The paperback edition also includes helpful educational notes with information about sea horses, coral reefs and all the amazing creatures that live there. Best of all, the notes are written in an easy-to-understand way so that even the tiniest of minds can grasp the concepts.
A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea by Jessica Law (Ages 3-6)
What I love about this book: This book is a fantastic way to teach small children about the food chain in the ocean. The book is based on a traditional cumulative song with each verse introducing a new creature. The creatures are introduced to the child in the order of their food chain such as the shark chases the eel, who chases the squid, who chases the snail. This book is great to start memory work and comes with an audio singalong that is fantastic for road trips both short and long.
Hello Ocean by Pam Munoz Ryan (Ages 4-6)
What I love about this book: This book teaches about the ocean in relation to the five senses. It truly brings the story to life and your child can actually feel like they are on the beach through the descriptors used in the story even to children who have never paid a visit to the sea: "I see the ocean, gray, green blue, a chameleon always changing hue....I hear the ocean, a lion's roar, crashing rumors toward the shore....I touch the ocean and the surf gives chase, then wraps me in a wet embrace....Sandy grains in a salty drink are best for fish and whales, I think."
Down Down Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea by Steve Jenkins (Ages 4-8)
What I love about this book: This book is setup in a truly unique fashion with each page taking you deeper and deeper into the ocean. On each page, there is a narrow dark line that represents the Pacific Ocean from the top. You will explore surface level all the way down to the deepest spot of 35,838 feet. As you turn the pages, your child will descend with you, meeting on the way the creatures of that level along with a paragraph of information about that part of the sea. On five additional pages, Jenkins revisits each double page in miniature, numbering the characters shown there to add factual information about each. He includes a human hand to give an idea of the actual scale. The book is perfect for children as it combines useful information with aesthetically moving images.
Octopus Alone by Divya Srinivasan (Ages 3-5)
What I love about this book: This book introduces a number of different sea creatures in a playful way that children will enjoy. However, it also takes on an emotional aspect as children may relate with the main character Octopus. Octopus really loves playing with his ocean friends, but from time to time he just wants to be alone. The story shows children that it is okay to sometimes want a quiet space alone, even if you love playing with your friends. If you have a quiet or shy child, Octopus Alone can be a great addition to your library.
Peek-a-Zoo Underwater: Toddler Peekaboo in an Ocean Aquarium (Ages 3-5)
Formats: iTunes ($2.99)
Peekaboo - This game is perfect for learning animal sounds and introducing your child to a variety of ocean animals. With a pickaboo format, even the smallest kids will really enjoy learning and meeting their adorable new animal friends on their trip to the seaside. With a simple tap of the screen, your child can play peekaboo with snappy crabs, playful sea lions, mysterious sting rays and a giant blue whale. Peek-a-Zoo combines a child's favorite game with familiar animals they will love. Guess who's next, have fun letting your child guess the animal that will appear or what sound it will make. Play along as they learn the names and sounds of each animal — in up to 5 languages — or let those fingers loose to discover all by themselves.
A to Sea (Ages 3-5)
Formats: iTunes ($4.99) and Google Play ($5.00)
The absolute best thing about this app is the gorgeous and well thought out art by Donna Wilson. The app includes original hand painted art that comes to life on your child’s screen. This can open the discussion to artists and painting as well as learning some ABCs. Your child can make their way through this fully interactive A to Z animal alphabet featuring 26 pages of exciting sea creatures. Fish swim (and fly!) Sharks chomp! Pufferfish inflate! The game contains lots and lots of interactive features on every page that will keep your child coming back for more.
An Ocean Animal Genius Test (Ages 5-8)
Formats: iTunes ($4.99) and Google Play ($1.99)
Ocean Animal Genius Test is a fun, colorful game that gets kids excited to learn about ocean animals! Play through a variety of beautifully illustrated puzzles, riddles and trivia questions as you learn about undersea creatures such as sharks, whales, octopus, seahorses, dolphins and more! Developed in conjunction with National Science Education Standards for children age 5-12. This beautiful educational game will keep your kids entertained for hours, and it's great fun for the whole family. Ocean Animal Genius is easy to play but difficult to master.
Peekaboo Ocean (Ages 2-6)
Formats: iTunes ($1.99) and Google Play ($1.99)
Peekaboo Ocean is a beautiful interactive peekaboo game for young children. Can your child guess which animal is hiding? Bright colors, fun animal sounds and exciting animations. Play a tune with the musical Starfish, go for a sping with the Octopus, dive, dive, dive with the Yellow Submarine, blow bubbles with the Jellyfish, go for a ride with the galloping Seahorses…. and many more sea adventures in Peekaboo Ocean!
How big is the ocean?
Around 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans. Understanding the concept of percentages can be a little difficult for small children. However, with a few simple tools you can help your child understand the concepts thoroughly. For this question, simply take a sheet of paper and draw a large circle representing the Earth. Shade in with a blue crayon 70% of the circle. Show the child how much more blue there is than everything else and explain that on our Earth we are covered by mostly water.
Which ocean is the largest?
The largest ocean on Earth is the Pacific Ocean, it covers around 30% of the Earth’s surface. The second largest ocean on Earth is the Atlantic Ocean, it covers over 21% of the Earth’s surface. This question is great for introducing the concept of half to your child. The Pacific and Atlantic Ocean make up over HALF of the entire world. This is a great project to do at lunch time! Have your child watch as you cut lunch items in half. Explain that anytime you cut something into two equal pieces you are creating halves. Next have your child show you some halves.
How many different sea creatures are there?
While there are hundreds of thousands of known marine life forms, there are many that are yet to be discovered, some scientists suggest that there could actually be millions of marine life forms out there. You can explain this to a child more simply by saying, “for every new creature we discover in the sea, there are many more that we haven’t discovered just yet.” This can be exciting for children. Have your child use a piece of paper and draw a sea creature that they would like to discover.
How many islands are there?
The Pacific Ocean contains around 25000 different islands, many more than are found in Earth’s other oceans. That is a lot of islands! Discuss what an island is with your child. How are islands formed? You can explain that some islands are formed by underwater volcanoes. How cool is that! Explain that the lava from the volcano gets hard when it is cool; therefore, when lava hits the cold ocean water it turns solid and that forms the ground of the island.
The Great Barrier Reef
The sea is home to the world’s largest living structure - the Great Barrier Reef. It is so large it can even be seen from the Moon! This is the perfect time to discuss exactly what a coral reef is with your child. Be sure to point out that coral is actually made up of LIVING organisms. You can find a lot of great information on coral reef formations and facts to share with your little ones at Eco Kids.
We have only explored about 5% of the world’s oceans. That means there is a whole lot left for us to discover about our oceans. You can use this opportunity to talk about some famous ocean explorers with your kids.
(Source: National Geographic for Kids)
Videos On the Web
- What's That? Under The Sea
- I love this video because it shows sea creatures that are unusual. This also opens the door to discuss camouflage and the reasoning why some creatures look so strange.
- The Ocean Song
- Who doesn’t love a good sing-a-long? This video is great for learning ocean facts in a fun and easy-to-follow song format.
- Alex in the Sea (Short Movie)
- Alex in the Sea is a great cartoon based video that introduces children to various sea creatures and ocean concepts.
Websites For Kids
Children can explore the world under the sea with National Geographic Kids. The website features an “Explore” feature where you can enter any in topic of interest. You can see videos, photos and learn lots of interesting facts on a variety of ocean-related subjects. From learning about the majestic Orca to understanding tides, it can all be found on National Geographic Kids.
Explore the Earth’s oceans with the Wild Kratts. Your child can play games, watch videos and learn more about a variety of undersea topics, all in an interactive format. Perfect for older children, but parents can play along with preschoolers to play along with the Wild Kratts.
Jellyfish Paper Bowl Craft
- Paper bowl
- Paints, crayons or markers
- Crepe paper (or streamers)
- Paint brush
- Elmer’s Glue or glue stick
- Wiggly eyes from craft section (optional: can paint them on if preferred)
- Place a hole with a pencil or small knife (to be done by parent) in the center of the bottom of the paper bowl.
- Have the child color the bowl (Note: Explain to the child that jellyfish come in a wide range of bright colors, so allow them to pick the color they want.)
- Allow paint to dry if you used paint.
- Cut a piece of string about 6-8 inches long and place the string through the hole in the bowl. Tape the end of the string to the inside of the bowl. If you want the jellyfish to be extra secure, tie the end of the string to a paper clip and then tape the paper clip to the inside of the bowl.
- Cut the crepe paper or streamers into eight long stripes. These will be your jellyfish tentacles.
- Glue the tentacles to the inside of the bowl.
- Add your googly eyes if you are using them, or simply draw on some eyes for your jellyfish.
- Once the glue has dried, turn your bowl over and you will have a jellyfish. You can tie the string to any hanging object so your jellyfish can swim through the air.
Create your own underwater world!
- Find a cardboard box, cut off the flaps and place the box on its side so that you are looking into the box.
- Have your child paint the inside of the box blue.
- After the paint has thoroughly dried, tape blue and green crepe paper seaweed onto the painted back of the box and hanging from the ceiling.
- Let the child color fish and other sea life to hang from threads in the box. Be sure to cut the strings to varying lengths so the fish swim at different depths.
- To complete, spread some sand at the bottom of the box or use small rocks or shells.
- You can also place some clay or playdough creatures at the bottom of the box.
(Source: Preschool Express)
Salt Water Experiments
Use this basic experiment to show how salt water makes it easier for objects to float.
- Find two large measuring cups and fill each cup with 1 ¼ cups of water.
- Add 3 tablespoons of water to ONE of the cups and allow it to dissolve. Be sure the child is present when you add the salt!
- Let the child stir in the salt.
- Place a hard boiled egg in the plain water and allow the child to watch it sink.
- Now remove the same egg and place it in the salt water.
- The egg will float because the water is denser. Explain the concept to your child and let them experiment with other objects.
This project is a great one for old or young kids and allows an open discussion on science and concepts of increased buoyancy on the ocean versus freshwater.
Note: The reason saltwater makes it easier for heavier objects to float is due to the fact the water is denser. The denser an object, the more weight it can handle. For example, a rock can hold more weight than a feather because it is dense. When you add salt to the water you make it more dense. All those little salt particles are there helping hold up the heavy objects.
Take a Trip to Your Local Zoo Or Aquarium
After you have completed this kit, take your child to your local zoo or aquarium to discuss everything they have learned. This will allow your child to see the creatures they have learned about in person and expose them to even more information.
Many local zoos and aquariums have staff on hand to answer questions. Therefore, have your child prepare a list (if the child is young, prepare the list for her) so that she can ask the zoo keeper or aquarium keeper any questions she may have. Be sure to read all the display signs and signage at each exhibit so that you can relay it to your child. Signage often provides interesting facts or information about the display being viewed. This can add an additional layer of learning to your experience, and YOU may even learn something new!
About Tara West
With a passion for learning and teaching, Tara can frequently be found scouring the internet for the latest news and information. Tara is a mother of three, wife, writer, habitual researcher, social media maven and southern belle. In her free time, Tara enjoys trout fishing, hiking, camping, learning and going on small adventures with her family. Tara has mastered the art of the "staycation". The Wests can frequently be found searching for a new cave, park, lake or hiking trail to experience as a family and all within a 50 mile radius of their Arkansas home. Tara has taken her passion for research and a never-ending need to continue learning to Zoobean by using her skills to find the latest and greatest books, apps and resources for families with small children.