Every June, people across the globe celebrate World Oceans Day, a tribute to the wonderful wet stuff covering 70% of the earth and what it does towards our existence – a source of oxygen, protein and biodiversity, to name a few of its necessities.
It’s tremendously important to teach young children about our oceans’ critical role – and World Oceans Day is a perfect opportunity. By engaging children in fun, educational marine-based activities, they can learn all about our oceans and why they matter.
Today, we’re sharing our ideas about engaging ocean-themed activities to do with children in day care or at home. And, we tell you how Kids Clubs in Sydney and all our NSW early learning centres make a splash this World Oceans Day!
Exciting ocean-themed crafts, games and activities
This year’s theme for World Ocean Day was Planet Ocean: Tides are Changing.
And with something as incredible as the ocean for inspiration, where do you start?! As our Kids Club Educators will tell you, the sky’s the limit when it comes to marine-themed activities!
Here are some of our Kids Club favourite activities to engage children and teach them about the big blue, helping them understand its vital role in our world.
1. Create a crafty seascape for your learning centre wall
Young children love to draw, paint and colour. So, get everyone working together to create a giant seascape for your wall! Encourage the children to call out names of underwater life and note them down on a list. Repeat the words and ask the children to choose one of their favourites to create on paper. Younger children may want help with their drawing, or may want to design their own creations so why not let them colour or paint it. Before long, you’ll have a whole host of creatures to stick on your wall, filling the room with ocean-themed colour!
2. Make ocean-themed sensory sand buckets and water worlds!
There’s nothing better for kids than feeling water or sand on their hands. A sensory bucket allows them to ‘fish’ or dig out toy sea creatures, shells, sponges and pebbles using their hands or a net, immersed in water or sand-based play. Add food colouring or biodegradable glitter to your water or sand for some extra magic!
3. Craft a 3D underworld!
This is a great activity to get creative minds thinking and hands moving! Have the children select a base for their 3D creation – a piece of card or round paper plate are good options. Provide lots of sea-inspired objects on a table: pretend sea toys, seashells, gems, grass or kelp and sand. Watch the children as they select their objects and bring their 3D underworld to life, gluing down their objects or simply moving them around on the base freely to create different underwater scenes.
4. Make a magical marine-inspired mobile!
It’s time for more collective colouring and crafting as your children make a classroom mobile together! For this activity, you will need paper, colouring pencils, paint, string and sticky tape. Ask your children what they would like to see hanging from their classroom mobile – fish, sharks, jellyfish, turtles or any other sea creatures. Have them draw and colour in or paint their favourite sea creature on paper. When everyone has finished, stick two or three sea creatures to a piece of string and repeat until you have enough stringed creatures to hang from a piece of circled wire and create a mobile. You can even string shells together and make a beach-inspired mobile to hang outdoors.
5. Visit an aquarium!
Now, this activity involves leaving the confines of your day care centre, yet a trip to the local aquarium is an extremely valuable excursion for youngsters. Giving children the opportunity to view sea creatures up close and personal through the aquarium glass is an occasion they won’t forget. Point out the different types of creatures as you watch them swim past. You can even play aquarium bingo, giving each child a card with the names of five creatures to tick off their list as they spot them!
6. Play a game of ‘Flap the Fish’!
Super easy and lots of fun, how about a quick round of Flap the Fish for your preschoolers? All you need is a couple of paper fish, newspapers or magazines and two teams. Each team forms a line, and the first two in their lines race against one another, using a rolled magazine to flap their fish along the ground to a finish line a few feet away. Once over the line, the children turn around and flap their fish back again for their next team member to have a go. The team who flaps all of their fish successfully wins.
Educators may want to draw and cut out each fish to ensure they are similar in size before starting this game!
7. Collect rubbish from the beach
A perfect activity for kids who live in a suburb by the ocean is to go with an Educator, parent or carer to the beach and collect rubbish. It’s educational and extremely helpful to the local community too. Ask the child to count the number of items as they collect them, especially the harmful plastics. If they take two bags along, they can collect pretty shells at the same time and craft with them later!
Be sure to wear protective gear such as gloves!
8. Set a single-use plastic challenge
Not so much an activity, but this challenge will get your preschool children thinking responsibly. Set the children a task to avoid eating snacks wrapped in single-use plastic – whether for one day while at your child care centre or over a weekend at home. Explain how much damage this type of plastic can do to marine life when it ends up in the ocean, helping them appreciate why we all need to limit choosing snacks packaged this way.
Celebrating World Oceans Day with Kids Club
This year, our World Oceans Day celebrations kicked off with Kids Club Educators and children talking about the sea creatures they know, making a list of known marine life. Children were then encouraged to draw a picture of their favourite sea animal – and before we knew it, tables were filled with colourful animals, from clown fish, sharks, jellyfish and seahorses ready to create our very own seascape.
The children asked lots of questions as they drew, drawing on this year’s theme of the importance of looking after the ocean, and the responsibility we have to take action and conserve our seas. We drew comparisons of the dangers of pollution, how rubbish impacts the lives of sea creatures daily and how we can do better do look after our ocean.
We also explored a variety of animal figurines, such as starfish, whales, sharks, crabs and dolphins, and one of our Educators even brought in their very own pet turtle for the children to see! The children loved touched the creatures and asking curious questions about them and also found some dress-ups to resemble our favourite sea animals!
We also learned the three steps to help keep our oceans clean and debris-free, ‘reduce, reuse and recycle.’
Learning outcomes included understanding how marine creatures rely on the ocean to survive and the detrimental impact of rubbish on their lives.
Educating kids about the ocean today – and every day!
We all have so much fun celebrating World Oceans Day, the good news is that you don’t have to wait for this day to engage in marine-based activities – you can help children understand ocean life anytime!
Our curriculum allows our Educators to follow a play-based approach to children’s learning, where our team look at ways we can continue to immerse children’s learning opportunities and foster an appreciation of respect for the ocean.
How about choosing one of our ocean-themed activities to do once a week or monthly? With Australia surrounded by ocean, it’s a subject all children need to know about, so why not make it a regular thing to celebrate while you educate? With so many learning opportunities to experience, we know there are so many ways for children to learn ways to protect one of our most needed natural resources.
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