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If you’ve been following along, you know that the kids and I recently completed a preschool ocean unit to learn all about the ocean. As part of our unit, I created a number of ocean Montessori activities and put them up on our shelves for several weeks.
I am a big fan of Montessori education and I have read a lot about it in order to bring more Montessori style activities to my kids. With these Ocean Montessori activities, I was able to use my kids’ interest in the ocean to get them to practice a variety of skills spanning many areas of the curriculum.
Note: For more resources, printables and activities related to the ocean and its inhabitants, please see my ocean unit study page.
As part of our ocean unit, I created a variety of ocean-themed Montessori trays. I am definitely a Montessori newbie, so I can’t promise all of my trays adhere to strict Montessori principals. But hopefully you’ll find some inspiration among the trays I prepared for my kids.
Ocean Montessori tray: Match the initial sounds
With this tray, QBoy would lay out the letters and then try to match them to animals whose names begin with the same sound. For example, the “S” might be matched with sea lion. The animals came from our Safari Ltd Ocean Toob and from a set I bought from Oriental Trading Company.
Ocean Montessori tray: Go Fishing Puzzle
I placed our Melissa & Doug Deluxe 10-Piece Magnetic Fishing Game on a tray. The kids used the magnetic wand to “fish” the animals. As they worked, we were able to discuss the names of the various animals.
Ocean Montessori tray: Sea life math puzzle
I bought this great sea life-themed number sequencing puzzle from Lakeshore Learning. Kids can put together the puzzle using the numbers at the bottom or referring to the image.
Ocean Montessori tray: Shell sequencing
I printed this cute little shell sequencing activity from another blog. Unfortunately, I can’t recall which blog it comes from, and the printable itself doesn’t have the name of the blog anywhere. If anyone knows where this printable is from, please let me know so I can credit the creator! There are several shell patterns, and the kids use the cards on the right to complete the patterns.
Ocean Montessori tray: Count and clip
I printed this ocean-themed count and clip game from 2 Teaching Mommies. The kids counted the number of animals on each card and then used the clothespin to clip the corresponding number.
Ocean Montessori tray: Pattern block fish
I printed this fish pattern block template from PreKinders. The kids used our wooden pattern blocks to re-create the image on the tray.
Ocean Montessori tray: Shape matching
I created this tray with XGirl in mind. Inside each shell on the worksheet, I drew a different shape. Then I drew those same shapes on cards. Her task was to draw a card, then place a rock on the matching shape on her tray.
Ocean Montessori tray: Uppercase and lowercase letter matching
I created this tray with QBoy in mind. Inside each fish on the worksheet, I drew a different uppercase letter. I then created cards with the corresponding lowercase letters. As he drew the cards, his task was to place a rock on the matching uppercase letter on his tray.
Ocean Montessori tray: Get the fish to the ocean
This was by far one of the kids’ favorite trays, especially for QBoy. The large container on the right had about an inch of water in it. The kids’ task was to use the tweezers to pick up a fish and get it to the ocean. (I later added a washcloth to the tray so the kids could dry their fish when they were done and so they could clean up any water that spilled.)
Ocean Montessori tray: Fun with sea glass and flubber
This was a simple sensory tray. In the bowl on the left I placed a bunch of sea glass, and I filled the bowl on the right with flubber. The kids were free to use these materials as they wished.
Ocean Montessori tray: Sound matching clip activity
I downloaded this printable from Homeschool Creations. I put clothespins inside the Chinese takeout-style box, and I laid the picture cards on the right. The kids’ task was to identify the initial sound of the animal’s name, and then clip the letter corresponding to that sound.
Ocean Montessori tray: Ocean-themed stencils
This activity was far and away XGirl’s favorite. On more than one occasion she spent the whole of our Montessori time with this tray. 🙂
In the basket on the left, I included our ocean-themed stencils (see picture below for better look at the stencils). Also on the tray were some markers and some paper cut to the size of the stencils. The task was to place a stencil on the paper and use the markers to trace the image in the stencil. This was a great opportunity to work on fine motor development and pencil grip.
Ocean Montessori tray: Feed the fish
This tray was a simple practical life exercise the required the kids to use the small spoon to scoop “fish food” from the bowl on the left to feed to each of the fish on the right.
Ocean Montessori tray: Sift the sea glass
The kids’ task was to use the slotted spoon on the left to sift the sea glass from the bin and then place it in the small container on the right.
Ocean Montessori tray: Counting sea glass
I placed 55 pieces of sea glass in a small container. Next to this I placed our sandpaper numerals. The task was to lay out the numbers in order, and then count out a corresponding number of sea glass pieces to place under each number.
Ocean Montessori tray: Sea animal or land animal?
On this tray I printed out pictures of both sea animals and land animals. The kids’ task was to sort the pictures into two piles depending on whether the animals were sea or land animals.
I hope you found some inspiring ideas from our trays!
More resources for learning about the ocean
More ocean posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- 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.
Growing Up Madison
These are some really great ideas. Pinning this because I’m going to need to remember this when Madison is ready for it. Thank you!
Katy @ Experienced Bad Mom
What wonderful activities with great descriptions and pictures! The realist in me is wondering what the “after” pictures look like–ha ha! Some of these ideas, like the sea glass and flubber, I wanted to jump in and do myself.
Wow! These are all such great ideas!
What a great variety of ocean themed trays. I need to pick up some sea glass the next time I’m in the US. Also, the picture I saw with the sea glass and flubber, I thought it was gummy fish and yogurt.
My mom collected the sea glass from a beach not too far from where she lives. Fortunately, she was kind enough to let us have some for our ocean unit. 🙂
Your kids must have so much fun!
Really neat ideas! I love how easy it will be to adapt these activities to fit my son’s 20 month old needs! He loves animals these days, and he’s even started to sort and match pictures. Thanks for the inspiration!
Oh yes, a few of these could probably work – possibly with a little adaptation – even for a 20 month old!
Thank you so much! “Feed the fish” is my favorite!
Thanks – I liked that one too! 🙂
Kristina @ SchoolTimeSnippets
Wow! Love love love ALL the trays! Thank you for the ideas to use when we get to Letter O!! And you NEED to share a pic of what happened with the “flubber” and sea stones… just curious if it was a big ol mess?! : )
I had forgotten that flubber dries out when left to the open air. So for better or worse, there was no mess. The kids just made patterns with the sea glass on top of the semi-rigid flubber. 🙂
Great activities!! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!
What nicely thought out and set up Montessori trays! I’m going to try some of your ideas during my next ocean-themed unit. Thanks for linking up at Share It Saturday. I’m featuring you this week!
Thanks so much for featuring this post Mary Catherine!
Anna@The Measured Mom
Katie, you are so creative – what a variety of fun, hands-on learning!
I really like the trays you use but know that Montessori specific trays are rather expensive. Where did you get yours?
The big ones I use are the Easy Clean Craft Trays from Lakeshore Learning, and I love them! The small ones I use are from Discount School Supply. They are okay, but I don’t *love* them like I love the Lakeshore Learning trays.