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I recently completed a preschool ocean unit with my two kids, 4-year-old QBoy and 3-year-old XGirl. Whenever the kids are learning about a new subject I try to create some sensory experiences for them. At 3- and 4-years-old, XGirl and QBoy still love all sorts of sensory experiences. I thought they would have a lot of fun creating their own mini ocean in a bag. This activity doubled as both a sensory play activity and an activity to learn about the ocean.
Note: For more resources, printables and activities related to the ocean and its inhabitants, please see my ocean unit study page. And for more sensory play ideas, see my sensory play page.
To create an ocean in a bag, we used the following materials:
- A ziplock bag
- Duct tape (not pictured, but added later)
- A bottle of clear hair gel (from the dollar store)
- Colorations liquid watercolor paint in blue
- Some plastic fish
The kids started by scooping sand into their baggies.
I had them put in just enough to cover the bottom of the bag.
Then they each squeezed about a bottle of clear hair gel into their baggies.
Next they squirted in the blue liquid watercolor paint.
Finally, they added some fish.
To be safe, I not only closed the closed the bags, I added some duct tape on top to prevent any accidental openings from overzealous squishing. (I knew from prior experience an accidental opening was a definite possibility with this activity! :-))
Once the bags were sealed, I invited the kids to squish them as much as possible, especially to mix the blue coloring into the gel. Plus, the kids just like to squish things.
After they had enjoyed plenty of fun squishing the bags at the table, I used some duct tape to hang them from our glass door. This allowed the sun to shine through them, making the colors even more vibrant.
I noted that QBoy had put in a lot more blue coloring than XGirl, making his bag much darker. He told me: “My bag is darker because it is the deep ocean.” I was really pleased that he remembered from our reading how the deep ocean gets a lot less light than the ocean water closer to the surface!
More resources for learning about the ocean
More ocean posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- Ocean Montessori activities
- Learning about ocean animals
- Salt water and waves science
- Shell activities
- Blubber experiment
- Ocean animals book & 3-part cards
- Ocean Printables Pack
- Ocean Do-a-Dot Printables
- Ocean I Spy
For more resources, printables and activities related to the ocean and its inhabitants, please see my Ocean Unit Study page and my Oceans Pinterest board.
Follow Gift of Curiosity’s board Ocean Unit Ideas on Pinterest.
This looks like fun and the bags come out so pretty in the end. I love that the kids got to put everything in too 🙂
Thanks Emma! My kids love putting the items into the bags. Sometimes things get a bit messy when I turn that job over to them, but it’s all part of the process. 🙂
Anna@The Measured Mom
This looks like a great sensory activity! Thanks so much for sharing at the After School linky!
This is awesome! When you can’t get to the aquarium, why not make one at home? Totally cool. I’m featuring this tomorrow on my blog at the After School Linky Party. Stop by to check it out and share more while you’re there!
Thanks so much for featuring our activity!
How much hair gel do you think 14 kids would need?
My two kids used up most of a 20 oz bottle of hair gel. You could certainly use less gel in each bag, however.