Let’s Dive Into The Ocean

Curiosity is at an all time high in this house! My four year old has all the questions and even when I provide an answer, it is still often followed with WHY? I am thankful for our library of books to feed her curiosity! One of our favorite units was our ocean unit. We explored the ocean and learned about the zones including animals, temperatures and sunlight in each.

The five zones that we explored were Sunlight, Twilight, Midnight, Abyss, and Trenches. In our unit we incorporated a variety of ways to explore their differences. This unit involved a variety of activities which built off of one another and could easily be done over the course of a week or two. I included a sensory activity of hidden sea animals in blue dyed rice, a fine motor activity using cutting skills, a little S.T.E.M. during our ocean zones experiment and some simple pattern and number work. I will outline each of the activities below.

Dyed rice is my favorite sensory bin filler; how we make our rice can be found here. For a hands on introduction activity I added sea animals and small cards labeled with the ocean zones in our blue dyed rice. The sea animals I love can be found here, they are great quality and very realistic looking. I then invited my daughter to explore the rice and see what she found, this presented great conversation opportunities. We discussed the animals she was finding including their colors and size, the letters written on the zone cards, and she even identified a variation in the shades of blue rice. We later used these varying shades of rice to represent the different zones of the ocean. This was a great opportunity for me to see what she had taken away from the unit.

I think incorporating fine motor skills into daily life is so beneficial for children, this unit was no different. In preparation for this portion of our unit I painted varying shades of blue on a piece of paper, looking back this could have easily been an activity itself. I invited my daughter to cut out each layer. We used these layers to match our ocean zone cards to as well as add sea creatures that live in each zone. We practiced referencing a book, for this activity we used our National Geographic Kids book. I also included glass beads in varying shades that were matched to each layer. This activity is the one that sparked the idea of using different shades of blue rice to represent the layers of the ocean.

Our S.T.E.M. portion of the unit was my favorite! This was a two day activity for us and gave us both a visual and tactile representation of the ocean layers. The first portion of the experiment we added liquid water color ( can be found here) to mason jars and explored the difference in the color of each ocean layer. This was so much fun to see and a great fine motor activity squeezing the drops into the water from the dropper, also some basic counting practice. The tactile portion of this activity was adding a different number of ice cubes to each jar and getting to experience the temperature change between layers. As an addition to this, we placed animals in each jar that could be found in each zone.

For the visual portion in the jar :

  • Sunlight- 1 drop of blue and 1 drop of yellow
  • Twilight- 2 drops of blue
  • Midnight- 3 drops of blue and 1 drop of green
  • Abyss- 4 drops of blue and 2 drops of green
  • Trenches- 5 drops of blue, 3 drops of green, 1 drop of red

*please note my daughter added a ton of purple to the trenches because well, she is four.

For the tactile portion in the jar:

  • Sunlight- room temperature
  • Twilight- 1 ice cube
  • Midnight- 3 ice cubes
  • Abyss- 5 ice cubes
  • Trenches- 7 ice cubes

For more on these activities, check out our ocean unit or our S.T.E.M. experiment instagram posts.

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