Beaches + Ocean Unit

Ready for some gnarly waves, dude? Summer is right around the corner, and what could be more in season than learning about the ocean and it’s sun-drenched beaches? Throughout the unit, we will enjoy some awesome STEAM activities, along with the math, science, art, and music activities you know and love. Get ready to make some waves! Want to track your progress along the way? Download our printable tracking document here.

Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for kids ready for more) and modifications (which can be useful for including younger siblings). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) or minus (-) symbols.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

Surf’s up, dude! Get ready to learn all about the ocean with the adorable book Ocean! Waves for All.  

Activity 1: Let’s practice the names of the five oceans of the world with a song. Pull out your globe or atlas to make this more hands-on as you sing.

Activity 2: Discover the layers of the ocean with a fun water bottle experiment.

Activity 3: What’s the Mariana Trench? Watch this video to learn all about it.

Activity 4: Practice interview and recording skills while also teaching your child about charts with this engaging activity they can do in-person or over the phone or video chat.

Lesson 2:

Read the book Manfish: A Story of Jacques Cousteau. This famous ocean explorer loved the ocean and wanted to learn all about it. (Maybe you can relate?) Now, let’s learn more about how he studied his favorite thing.

Activity 1: Jacques Cousteau traveled the ocean using special equipment to breathe underwater. Learn the names of the parts (snorkel and mask and fins) and do this fun craft to help your child imagine what it was like to explore the deep.

Activity 2: The ocean is filled with salt water. Why does the water in the ocean have salt? Fresh water runs on rocks, and the minerals from those rocks run off into the water and collect in the ocean, making it salty. (source) A really special place on earth that is REALLY salty is the Dead Sea. There is so much salt in that body of water that you float when you swim there! Here’s a short video about the Dead Sea.

Now, let’s see this phenomenon in real life. This salt water experiment is sure to impress! This blogger includes 4 different liquid solutions in their experiment, but you can leave out the baking soda since this isn’t necessary for our purposes. She gives explanations in her blog for everything you see, so use these in your lesson, too. (Note: If your egg or pieces don’t float right away, don’t worry! Use this as an opportunity to continue the experiment by determining how much salt you need to make the object float.)

Activity 3: Today’s math lesson will be a fun and tasty treat! Practice addition with these goldfish bowl printouts. Use goldfish snacks as your manipulative.

Lesson 4: Let’s practice our greater than/less than skills with this shell activity. This website has some beautiful free printables, but you must sign up for access. First, click that link to join the list. They will send you an email with a passcode for access. Next sign in using the password and access the printable library. Click the “summer” list of printables and look for the seashell greater than/less than collection. Click that to download the printables!

Lesson 3:

Start by reading the book Hello Ocean. This poetic book is a great way to introduce the beach to a child who hasn’t seen one in a while or perhaps never at all. It would also be a great book for Tea + Poetry!

Activity 1: Make some moon sand! Here’s the recipe. Next, bring in some seashells and play. Use the shells to stamp or make a pretend beach. Here are some more ideas on how to play with seashells.

Activity 2: Bring out the sand toys and some sand and make an ocean sensory bin! This is a great activity to take outside this week.
(-) Ocean sensory bag

Activity 3: Surfing and waves can only mean one thing…The Beach Boys! This video shows some epic waves to the classic tunes of a band so many associate with the beach. Cowabunga! Share a few facts about the band while you watch the video:

  • The Beach Boys are famous for the sound they created, “California Rock.”
  • The band was made up of five friends.
  • Their songs were all about the beach, surfing, cars and having fun! (source)

(+) If your child is especially curious to learn how waves are formed, click here.

Activity 4: Using the playdough and shells from earlier today, practice sight words with this fun literacy activity.

Lesson 4:

Start by reading the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. You can also listen to the read aloud to add a little rhythm to the story. Try snapping along with the beat.

Activity 1: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom…will there be enough room—for all the letters we will play with today?! This board game based on the book will be a great way to practice letter names and their sounds. 
(-) Need a modification? Try matching lowercase and uppercase letters. This is a great activity for little ones working fine motor skills, too.

Activity 2: Coconut tree craft.

Activity 3: If you are able to get your hands on a real coconut, this blogger has some great ideas on bringing in the five senses into your coconut exploration.

Lesson 5:

Instead of Art + Music today…we’re having Art + Dessert! Read on to find out what we’re doing for this sweet twist.

Activity 1: If you were going to the beach today, what would you wear? Would you wear a dress? Look at this picture by Joaquin Sorolle called “Beach” and see what the children are wearing! Sorolle is a Spanish artist who loved painting landscapes, especially the ocean. Besides the clothing, what else do you notice about the colors in this picture? Does it feel bright? How do you know it’s a windy day at the beach? How do you know it is really sunny? 

Activity 2: Mermaid seashell necklace.

Activity 3: Sand pudding dessert.

Optional field trip: If possible, try to plan a trip to the beach this weekend to experience the sand, waves, and surf in person! Can’t make it? Try this indoor beach day and a movie. (Finding Nemo is a great option!)

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