Ocean Theme for Preschoolers, Montessori, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, fish, aquarium

Create a Fun Ocean Theme for Preschoolers: An In-Depth Guide With Ideas and Planning

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Montessori-Inspired ocean activity ideas

It’s summer so I thought it would be a good idea to brainstorm a new theme that my daughter (2 years and 10 months) would love. She’s really been into exploring with kinetic sand and sand tools lately, which made me think of the beach, seashells, fish, and the ocean. 

We live in the triangle area of North Carolina, so we have access to the beach. We went on a beach trip when my daughter just turned one year old. But this summer, we didn’t make plans to go to the beach.

Hands-on real life experiences

Ideally, it’s best to have hands-on real life experiences with your Montessori themes. We did the next best thing; we went on a trip to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh which has a few aquarium exhibits. We saw turtles, seahorses, fresh water and salt water fish. 

Going to the beach, aquarium, zoo, or museum can bring your ocean theme for preschoolers to life! Of course, if you’re unable to get to any of these places in your area, that’s okay. Do the best you can; go to your library and check out children’s books and/or find photos online to print out. 

Your child could also explore with sand in a sandbox or sand tray with buckets, shovels and other sand tools and ocean-themed objects, like real seashells and ocean animal figures. 

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Setting up your ocean theme plan

If you need help with figuring out how to plan and pull together an ocean theme for your young child, look no further; this post is for you!  

  • What should I start with?
  • How do I pull this together into one cohesive plan?
  • How do I develop my plan if Montessori homeschooling is open-ended and I’m supposed to “follow the child”? 

These are just some of the questions I have heard and read from many parents as they develop a themed curriculum.

A dream without a plan is just a wish

I don’t remember where I heard that phrase. But in my experience, it rings true with Montessori planning; both at home and in the classroom.

In this post, I’ll take you through how I start my plan using the tools provided in my Montessori Planner.  Then for each subsequent post during the next few months, I’ll show you how that plan is adjusted as I observe my daughter.

  • Is there a certain work that she’ll gravitate towards?
  • Will she master some activities quickly and get bored?
  • Will she take her time with a different work and I need to help her explore it more deeply?

I’d be shocked if my plan even remotely resembles what I initially start with!

Brainstorm some Montessori-inspired ocean theme activities

The first thing to do when creating a themed curriculum is to brainstorm a list of activities in various subjects or areas. Below is a list of activities that I came up with.

You can see that I have activities in each of the four main Montessori areas (Practical Life, Sensorial, Language, and Math), along with a few additional areas of Art, Science, and Peace.

Practical life







My plan is to introduce a few introductory activities and add more activities each week to build upon her learning or interests. Introducing too many things at one time maybe overwhelming for your child (and for you!) and she may get frustrated instead of engaged.

So for the first week or two, I’ve decided to start with:

  • seashell matching
  • seashell sorting
  • Seashell pouring
  • Kinetic sand and seashells sensorial exploration
  • seashell scrubbing
  • painting seashells
  • matching ocean animal objects
  • ocean animal 3-part cards
Based on how my daughter likes the activities, I will go from there, and decide what to introduce to her next. 
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Seashell matching
Ocean activities, ocean theme for preschoolers, toddlers, Montessori, language, practical life, seashell sorting
Seashell sorting
Ocean activities, ocean theme for preschoolers, toddlers, Montessori, practical life, seashell pouring
Seashell pouring
Ocean activities, ocean theme for preschoolers, toddlers, Montessori, sensorial, seashells, kinetic sand
Sensorial kinetic sand with seashells
Ocean activities, ocean theme for preschoolers, toddlers, Montessori, practical life, seashell scrubbing
seashell scrubbing
Ocean activities, ocean theme for preschoolers, toddlers, Montessori, art, seashell painting
seashell painting
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matching ocean animal objects
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ocean animal object-picture matching
Ocean activities, ocean theme for preschoolers, toddlers, Montessori, language curriculum, three part cards, vocabulary
ocean animal vocabulary three-part cards

My observations

What I found out so far is that my daughter loves seashells! She can pour, match, grasp, scrub, and paint them over and over again. Children of this age group love small objects, and they love objects found in nature. 

According to Montessori philosophy, young children of this age are in the sensitive period for small objects. It’s no wonder my daughter loved pouring and grasping the tiniest seashells! 

Based on my observations, we’ll try transferring seashells with different tools, such as a spoon, scoop, and tongs. I’ll also get regular sandbox sand for sensorial exploration with the seashells, like hiding them in the sand and trying to find them. We also explored a little with making imprints of seashells with play dough, and we’ll try that again.

I also observed that she mastered matching the ocean animal objects independently. The ocean animals we use  are from the Ocean Animal Toob by Safari Ltd. (affiliate link). They are high-quality and I recommend them. I made an ocean animal Three-Part Card set with eight ocean animals from the set. 

My daughter was able to match the animals to the picture cards, but it was a little tricky and we’ll practice more with matching the objects and pictures. Matching the three-part cards, especially the label-only cards were challenging, so we may take a break from the label-only cards from the three part cards for now. I only introduced four three-part cards (instead of all eight) so it wouldn’t be too overwhelming. Check out my blog post about three-part cards on how to use them.

Check out my next blog post to learn more about the next activities we’ll explore next:

  • Transferring seashells with tongs, spoon
  • Seashell exploration with regular sand, play dough
  • Seashell glue collage
  • Counting, addition with seashells
  • Ocean Cutting strips

Concluding Thoughts: Take a peek into my planner!

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for. If you’ve been following my blog and you’ve already downloaded your Montessori homeschooling planner you’ll get a lot of information from how I fill out my planner pages below. 

You can use my planner pages below as a guide to help you fill out your planner for any theme you’d like to work on with your child!

If you haven’t downloaded the planner yet, scroll down to the bottom of this page to subscribe to the resource library and download.

Have you downloaded and tried this planner? How’d it go?

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Montessori homeschool planner, wish list, ocean, preschooler, activities
Montessori homeschool planner, ocean, preschooler, activity plan
Montessori homeschool planner, ocean, preschooler, observations
Resource Library

17 thoughts on “Create a Fun Ocean Theme for Preschoolers: An In-Depth Guide With Ideas and Planning”

  1. what an ocean of knowledge you are….
    amazing website full of useful information about montessori activities at home…
    keep doing this great work 👏 👍

    1. Hi Silky,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m so glad that you have found my Montessori blog helpful!

  2. Pingback: 5 Easy and Fun Sea Turtle Activities: Include Science and Sensorial In Your Ocean Theme

  3. Pingback: Incorporate 7 Montessori Fine Motor Activities with your Ocean Theme

  4. What a fun and nicely detailed post on ocean theme. My grandkids love sharks too….in fact, I too just wrote about some fun shark crafts with shark week starting next week! They love learning about sharks and other ocean creatures (and I do too!) Thanks for the great post…I am pinning so I have your great ideas to share with my grandkids!

  5. My kid is obsessed with octopus and other sea creatures. I coukd give these activities a try for him and for sure he will love it.

  6. My 5 and 7 year old made seashell frames while my 26 month old took a nap. We have leftover seashells that he can play with tomorrow. Thanks for these great ideas. Perfect timing for me to read this.

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