Exploring Our Ocean: Hands On Activities and Project Ideas



Last weekend we finally got our little one her very own fish! We’ve been talking about it for months, but just kept talking ourselves out of it. It’s too expensive. Where are we going to put a huge tank? Do we need to worry about them when we go out of town? She’s going to get bored with it. What if it dies? LC and I stopped by PetSmart earlier in the week to entertain ourselves while we waited for the post office to open. She loves looking at the birds, hamsters, and, of course, the huge wall of fish. This time, I actually stopped someone and asked about what it would take to get a fish. After 30 minutes of questions, answers, and product suggestions, I made up our minds. WE ARE GETTING HER A FISH !

The nice lady that we spoke with suggested a Betta fish. Apparently they are the easiest fish to have and take care of since they don’t necessarily need a filter system. Which made me think of that poor goldfish on Elmo’s World….


Meet ” Dragon Fish “, the newest addition to our family. Lyanna picked out his lovely tank ( which was on clearance ! ), some marbles, and an unnecessary plastic plant. $ 30 later and she was on cloud nine all day ! Since she has been obsessing over her new friend, I thought I could take advantage of this interest and spend some time teaching her about the ocean and some of the other creatures that live in it. We have been having tons of fun ! We’ve been reading all of our books about ocean animals, putting together sea creature puzzles, watching YouTube videos, and have, of course, been doing several different projects and activities. I really wish that we had an aquarium closer to us because I would love to take her there to finish out this unit. For now, we will just have to continue to browse through YouTube and play with our crafts. Below you will find a list of simple project ideas and hands on activities, complete with detailed instructions and linked supply lists. Enjoy !

Under The Sea Sensory Bin

This was one of our favorite activities this week! It’s super hot outside and very humid. This activity was great for letting us be outside and enjoying the fresh air, while also cooling us down. I say cooling ” US ” down because almost all of the blue water in the bin was all over me towards the end. Thanks to our time at the lake, Lyanna thinks it’s hilarious, and helpful, to splash me with water. This sensory bin activity was very easy to put together. Here is a list of what you will need to create your very own ” Under The Sea ” exploration:

Under The Sea Sensory Bin (1)

Tupperware Container or Bin ( Large )

Blue Gems

Blue Food Coloring ( or Liquid Water Colors ) 2 to 4 drops

Ocean Animals Figurines


Under The Sea Sensory Bin (2)

Now just combine all of these items into your container, or bin, and let your little ones go at it! If you wanted, you could even add glitter or seashells to your bin. We did our play time outside for obvious reasons and I suggest you do so as well. The best part of play at this age is that it gets messy while they are having fun and learning! I told you, super simple ! Lyanna played with this for hours and we actually still have it set up in the garage for her. During her time playing in the bin, we talked about each one of animal figurines. We talked about what they were, what they ate, and any other characteristics we remembered about them from our reading and YouTube sessions.

Under The Sea Sensory Bin (3)

Here is another simple sensory play activity. Lyanna was given this awesome book for her birthday and she LOVES playing with the figurines that came with it. It features a short story and a large ocean scene fold out that she plays with the figurines on. We borrowed them for our activities this week 🙂 . For this activity, we reused our blue gems and figurines, but added some homemade playdough to explore with this time. Click here to check out our recipe for making your very own playdough. You only need 3 items that you probably already have in your house! Here are the items you will need for this sensory activity:

Under The Sea Sensory Bin (4)

Sea Creature Figurines 


Blue Gems or Marbles

Under The Sea Sensory Bin (5)

Lyanna has a newfound love for playdough and asks to play with it all the time! Playing with playdough is great for building children’s fine motor skills as it works their little muscles in the arms and hands. These muscles need a lot of training and attention, so squishing and rolling playdough is perfect for focusing on these developments. Adding elements to playdough play, like gems and figurines, is a great way to expand a child’s imagination and creativity. During this activity, LC “created” her own “fish tank” for her little plastic friends just like how we had done previously in the week with her new fishy friend, Dragon Fish.

Paper Bag Jellyfish

Out of all the videos we watched, LC’s favorite was definitely the jellyfish ones. She loved to watch them slowly glide through the water and their colors change with the light of the sun. Click here to view our favorite jellyfish video. We created our own jellyfish using a brown paper bag and some other supplies we had around the house. Below you will find the list of supplies you will need and the steps to take so you can create your very own jellyfish.

Paper Bag Jellyfish (1)

Step 1: As promised, this project is super easy to do. We ended up making 6 of these little guys. The first thing to do for this project would be to have your little ones color their bags.

Paper Bag Jellyfish (2)

Step 2: If you’re going to use glitter, or anything else that needs to dry, to decorate your jellyfish, I would do so now. Give it time to dry before moving on to the next steps.

Step 3: Glue on your cute googly eyes. We gave him some eyebrows. LC said that he needed them and I totally agree!

Step 4: Now, LC is still a bit intimidating by scissors and refuses to touch them just yet. Since Step 4 is the cutting portion of this project, I went ahead and did this step for her. If you have a child that is still perfecting there cutting skills, I would draw guiding lines on the bag for them to follow, like I have done in the pictures. Help your little ones cut on the lines and you’re almost there !

Paper Bag Jellyfish (3)

Step 5: We scrunched the jellyfish’s “tentacles” to make them look more realistic. When I say “scrunch” I mean like how you do to your hair when you’re styling it. I can’t be the only one that still does that ! And now you have a new, not slimy, jellyfish to play, pretend, and explore with !

Paper Bag Jellyfish (4)

These paper bag jellyfishes were definitely a big hit with our little one. She’s been holding on to them for days and protecting them from the dogs. Our dogs occasionally chew up her toys, so she is going the extra mile with her new jelly friends and making sure she is not putting them down for a second. At all. Now, on to the next super simple and easy project idea …..

Paper Roll Brucey

Okay, I probably could have come up with a better title for this project. I’ll work on that. This is yet another simple project to do with your children, but I would say the age group to complete EVERY step would be at least 3 or 4. There is cutting involved and the teeth portion can be a little tricky for little hands with emerging scissor skills. Lyanna happily colored the roll and pointed to where she wanting the eyes, but cutting small triangles out was just not happening for us just yet. For this project, you will need:

Paper Roll Brucey (1)

Step 1: Color the paper towel roll with either the blue crayon or marker. For us, we used crayons and they created a very cool texture. It almost resembles that smooth, but “traveled” look all sharks have !

Step 2: Give your friend a mouth ! Cut two triangles out of one end of the paper towel roll. This is one of the parts I was talking about earlier that may be a bit tricky for little hands, but you could always draw guiding lines from them to cut on.

Paper Roll Brucey (2)

Step 3: Using your blue paper, cut out three triangles. These will be for your shark’s fins. Glue these triangles to your sharks body. While the glue is out, go ahead and give him some eyes !

Paper Roll Brucey (3)

Step 4: Using your white paper, create some chompers for your sweet toothless friend. Cut small triangles out of a strip of your paper. Now, you can choose to use your triangles as teeth and glue them on one at a time, or you can use the strip of paper that they were cut out from as your teeth ( That’s what we did and it was definitely easier ! )

Paper Roll Brucey (4)

And now you have an adorable little shark! Unfortunately, this little guy didn’t last too long in our house. The dogs got it. I guess they either didn’t like the look in his eyes or they thought his eyes looked tasty. We’ll be making another one soon since someone keeps asking for her “sharky dude”.

Paper Roll Brucey (5)

When I started planning out our week of sea creatures, I happened to see this cute video about creating a moving fish with just paper, glue, and scissors! This project idea came from Krokotak’s Facebook page and you can visit them and watch the video by clicking here. I would highly recommend you find it and watch it! For this project you will need:

Paper Roll Brucey (6)

Step 1: For our moving fish, LC colored a piece of white paper for us to use. I thought some bright colors would make a cool design on our first fish friend.

Step 2: ( See Picture Below ) Fold the bottom right corner over to the left side.

Paper Roll Brucey (7)

Step 3: ( See Picture Below ) You will be left with a rectangular piece. Cut this portion off, but safe it for later !

Paper Roll Brucey (8)

Step 4: ( See Pictures Below ) Open back up your folded piece of paper. You’ll be turning this piece in to a kite shape. Once you fold and make your folding lines, open back up your piece of paper.

Paper Roll Brucey (9)

Step 5: ( See Pictures Below ) Now fold your piece of paper back to the original folding where it was just a triangle ( Step 2 ). Now it’s time to cut and start to turn this into a fish ! View the pictures below to see where and how far to cut. Note: Make sure you cut all the way to the 2nd folded lines. If you don’t, your fish won’t move right. Trust me, I messed up the first time too.

Paper Roll Brucey (12)

Step 6: ( See Pictures Below ) Open your piece of paper back up. You’ll be applying glue to first panel on the left in order to attach it to it’s matching counterpart on the other side.

Paper Roll Brucey (11)

Step 7: ( See Pictures Below ) Now that you have your fish shaped, you’ll need to add some other little details to actually make him look more like a fish. I’ll wait until your finished playing with the fish…. I know, it’s cool ! Shape your fish’s head to look more like…. a fish’s head.

Paper Roll Brucey (13)

Step 8: ( See Pictures Below ) Remember that rectangular piece you cut off in the beginning? The piece I told you to save? We need it ! Cut your fishy friend out some eyes, fins, and a bottom lip with this piece.

Paper Roll Brucey (14)

Paper Roll Brucey (15)

Step 9: Add these little features to your fish’s body and you’re done !

Paper Roll Brucey (16)

If you found this directions to be a little confusing, I would highly recommend viewing the video tutorial for this. You can find it here.

Well that ends our sea creature week. We hope that you enjoyed our projects and activities and hope that you were inspired to do at least one of them with your family. We had a lot of fun this week and it makes me sad to think we only a month or so left of summer 🙁 . As promised, here is a list of wonderful books all about different sea creatures:

Happy Crafting ! xoxo

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