Sensory play doesn’t have to be overly complicated. This ocean sensory bin just needs 2 materials, and it’s good for hours of fun!
I put this bin together during one of my preschool’s summer camps, but it would work at any point in the year. It makes a great addition to the sensory center during an ocean theme, or just for fun during the summer.
The bin was partially inspired by how much the preschool campers had enjoyed our “walk the plank” activity. I’m sure you could combine the two bins, with the pirates walking the plank over a very crowded ocean.
The amount of fun the children had with this activity just goes to show that sensory play does not have to be difficult or complicated! I also feel the need to point out that this appealed to kids of all ages! The 4 and 5-year old campers, the 6 and 8-year old camp assistants, and the 30-something teachers all got their hands into the bin.
Assembling Our Ocean Sensory Bin
My son (aka Engineer) helped me assemble the ocean sensory bin using clear and blue water beads to act as the water. We chose both clear and blue water beads simply because we didn’t have enough blue! Once the beads were hydrated, we poured them into a long plastic bin with a top.
Once we got to the preschool, Engineer helped me place a variety of small animals in with the water beads. He chose whales, sharks, baby ocean animals, as well as variety of other sea animals. It was an incredibly crowded ocean, but the children didn’t seem to mind one bit. Engineer and I had a nice discussion about the characteristics of sharks versus whales as he added the animals. It’s always nice to listen to his questions and see how much he’s learned through our adventures.
How the Kids Played with the Bin
The first day of camp, I gave the kiddos basic instructions regarding the ocean sensory bin. Please leave the water beads un-squished until the last day of camp, try to keep everything in the bin, and have fun with the ocean animals!
The children were engaged with this bin the entire week of camp! They told stories using the animals, sorted the animals, ran their hands through the water beads, and just enjoyed playing together.
On the last day of camp, we had a Splash Day. The children had been enjoying the ocean sensory bin so much that we decided to bring it outside with us. It’s always nice to have some simple play bins for the kids to use when they want a break from sprinklers and water balloons.
They ended up squishing the beads (after asking me, which was nice), climbing into the beads, and stomping them with their feet! This ended up being a full-body sensory experience for the kiddos!
Preschool Ocean Theme Lesson Plans
Save time and get right to the playful learning with our printable lesson plan sets. Each set includes over 30 playful learning activities related to the theme, and we’ve provided different versions for home preschool families and classroom teachers so all activities are geared directly toward your needs.