Ocean Themed Play, STEM and craft Activities

Ocean themed activities seem to be a big hit in our house! I realised the other day just how many ocean and beach themed activities I’ve shared on Instagram over the past 18 months and thought it would be great to collate them all in one place to share with you. Many are sensory play based, with a few STEM activities and art & craft thrown in too. I hope you find some inspiration!

Ocean themed activities for kids.

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Spaghetti Ocean

We love a bit of spaghetti play! It’s such a fun sensory experience and makes a brilliant ocean/seaweed base to play alongside ocean animals.

To make coloured spaghetti cook it according to the packet instructions (or use leftover spaghetti). Add a few drops of food colouring and use tongs to toss the spaghetti in the food colouring. Once it has soaked for a few minutes, remove any excess food colouring by rinsing it under water.

To make this ocean I divided the spaghetti into two and coloured one half green and one half blue.

Create an ocean out of spaghetti! This is such a wonderful sensory experience!

Ocean & Beach Clean-up

Explore the problem of ocean pollution with kids in a hands-on way!

I allowed the girls to have fun playing with a lovely clean beach before I sent them away for a few minutes and added the rubbish. They were shocked and saddened by the mess! It was a really powerful way to highlight the issue. The girls then used their fine motor tools to remove the rubbish and restore the beach.

Ocean and beach clean-up. Teach children about the problems of plastic pollution.

Sticky Fish

We love the possibilities of sticky back plastic (otherwise known as contact paper)! For this activity cut out a fish shape from cardboard and add a piece of sticky back plastic to the back so that the sticky side is facing upwards. Draw lines over the fish and provide pom-poms or other craft materials to decorate.

This activity is great for fine motor skills and can be used many times over as the pom-poms come off easily and can be re-stuck.

Create a sticky fish using contact paper. Draw lines on the fish and provide craft resources to decorate.
Palm Grip Crayons
Play Dough Tools
Acrylic Paint Pens
Jumbo Paint Brushes
Posca Pens
Air-drying Clay
Paint Sticks
Lyra Chunky Colouring Pencils
Honey Sticks crayons
Palm Grip Crayons
Play Dough Tools
Acrylic Paint Pens
Jumbo Paint Brushes
Posca Pens
Air-drying Clay
Paint Sticks
Lyra Chunky Colouring Pencils
Honey Sticks crayons

Jelly Ocean

Jelly is a great sensory play option for little ones who are still mouthing. I found this blue jelly in the supermarket, but if you can’t find some you could use a packet of gelatine with some blue food colouring.

Add the sea creatures before leaving the jelly to set. Then provide spoons and other tools so that the kids can enjoy digging them out and ‘rescuing them’ from the jelly.

Create a Jelly Ocean! Add sea creatures before setting the jelly and provide tools to dig them out.
Sea Shells
Schleich Shark Set
Schleich Blue Whale
Schleich Seal
Mini Sea Creatures
Sea Shells
Schleich Shark Set
Schleich Blue Whale
Schleich Seal
Mini Sea Creatures
Sea Shells
Schleich Shark Set
Schleich Blue Whale
Schleich Seal
Mini Sea Creatures

Under the Sea Salt Painting

We love salt painting! It is such a fun and effective art technique that just uses salt, glue and watercolours. You can learn about the whole process on this Instagram post.

Salt painting is such a fun art technique!

Shaving Foam Ocean

I made this Arctic Ocean using shaving foam with a few drops of food colouring swirled in. To make the ice I used freezer frost! But if you’re better than me at keeping your freezer in check you could use blocks of ice frozen in packaging or bits of polystyrene.

Create an ocean using shaving foam

Layers of the Ocean

This liquid density activity is a brilliant way of exploring the layers or ‘zones’ of the ocean and uses everyday liquids that you should be able to find at home. Find out all the details on this Instagram post.

Explore the layers of the ocean in this density experiment

Rock Pool Play Tray

We may not be able to go to the beach at the moment but you can bring the beach to the kids by creating your very own rock pool! Set it up in a large tray or tub so they can get their feet in and get the whole experience!

Create a rock pool in your back garden!

Salt Water Habitat Sort

Explore where different sealife come from with this mini habitat sort. I chose a coral reef, open ocean, rockpool, polar ocean and mangrove for my habitats.

The girls sorted the sealife into the right habitat and we discussed a few that you might find in different places. Then they had a lovely time playing with the small worlds afterwards.

Learn about salt water habitats with this  sealife sorting activity
Ostheimer Whale
Ostheimer Rabbit
Ostheimer Lion
Instant Snow
Log Slices {US link}
Log Slices {UK link}
Sisal Trees (UK link)
Sisal Trees (US link)
Safari Toob Penguins
Insect Nature Tube
Artificial Grass
Sisal Snow Trees
Glass Pebbles
Wooden Trees
Le Toy Van Wooden Vehicles
Construction Vehicles
Road Signs
Road & Rail Tape
Schleich Brachiosaurus
Schleich Velociraptor
Schleich Triceratops
Schleich Andalusian Horse
Schleich Tiger
Schleich Baby Animals
Schleich Farm World Animals
Glass Pebbles
Sea Shells
Schleich Blue Whale
Schleich Seal
Mini Sea Creatures
Safari Space figures
Way To Play Flexible Toy Road
Butterfly Nature Tube
Kinetic Sand Play Set
Kinetic Sand
Insect collection
Schleich Dinosaurs
Schleich Animals

Frozen Aquarium

The girls loved rescuing the sealife out of our frozen aqaurium on a hot day last summer. I gave them bottles of warm water and tools to chip away at the ice. Find all the details about how I froze it in layers on this Instagram post

Free the fish from the frozen aquarium

Bubble Foam Ocean

We love bubble Foam! It’s a great enhancement to water play and quick to set up.

To make bubble foam put 1 part tear free bubble bath (or washing up liquid) to 2 parts water into a bowl. We usually do 1/2 cup of bubble bath and 1 cup of water at a time. If you’d like to colour your bubble foam add a little food colouring at this stage. Mix it up using an electric hand mixer until you start to get stiff peaks and then scoop it out into a tray for play. We usually make 3 or 4 batches of different colours to fill a tray.

Ocean themed activities- Bubble foam

Fizzy Ocean

Have you tried mixing bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) with vinegar before? It makes an exciting fizzy reaction that little ones just love!

To make a fizzy ocean lay out a thin layer of bicarbonate of soda onto a tray and add in some sealife figures and shells. Then fill a couple of dishes with white vinegar and add a few drops of colouring to make one blue and one green-blue.

Provide pipettes or droppers for children to transfer the vinegar to the play tray. As they squeeze it into the tray it will react with the bicarbonate of soda and create a fantastic fizzy, foamy ocean.

Once the girls had finished creating their ocean I then provided them with a bowl of water and they had fun cleaning up the animals.

Create a fizzy Ocean with this popular STEM experiment
Wooden Bowls
Glass Pebbles
Wilton White Icing Pure Food Colourant
Plastic Storage Jars
Magnetic Wand and Counters
Light Box Pad
Wooden Letters
PlayTRAY with storage
PlayTRAY without storage compartments
Jumbo Magnifiers
Kinetic Sand Play Set
Kinetic Sand
Alphabet Stamp Set
Translucent counters
Magnetic Counters
Wooden Scoops
Paint Sticks
Water Beads
Felt Balls
Food Colouring
Learning resources droppers
Learning Resources Handy Tools
Play Tray
Magnetic Wands

Sand Play Dough

This may be slightly off the ocean theme but sand play dough is great stuff and I had to share it! Sand play dough has a really unique texture to it and perfect for at-home beach play. Add some shells and loose parts for them to make their own pictures in the dough. You can find my sand play dough recipe on this blog post.

Ocean themed activities- Sand play dough

For more beach and ocean themed activities do check out my pinterest topic board here.

You can find a full list of our favourite play & craft supplies on my Amazon storefronts.

Ocean themed activities for kids


  1. Samantha
    September 4, 2020 / 4:18 am

    What did you use to create the water for the ocean and beach clean up?

    • Laura
      September 5, 2020 / 9:10 pm

      It’s just water with a drop of food colouring in 😊

  2. Elizabeth Darroch
    November 4, 2021 / 10:22 pm

    What do you put in the tray to create a barrier between the sand and the jellybaff? 😊

    • Laura
      November 9, 2021 / 9:15 am

      This is water rather than jellybaff. Some of it did soak into the sand but most of it didn’t. I think jellybaff would probably be okay as it’s quite dense stuff.

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