It’s been a fun few days here at Twodaloo headquarters- Daddy took the week off from work so we have been enjoying a little “staycation” here in DFW. Today we took the twins to the Grapevine Sea Life Aquarium for an encore visit, which reminded me that I have several more ocean-themed sensory activities to share with you! These are activities we have done in addition to our Ocean-themed unit and our fabulous Sensory Lagoon, so be sure to check those out if you are looking for more fun ocean ideas for toddlers and preschoolers.
Activity #1: Oobleck Ocean
One afternoon, after discovering an ancient box of cornstarch in our pantry, I created an impromptu ocean by mixing the cornstarch with water and some teal food coloring to create blue “oobleck.” If you’ve never mixed cornstarch with water before, you are really missing out on a very strange sensory experience! I made ours a bit on the watery side to begin with, but as it dried out in the Texas heat I discovered that the substance seems to defy the laws of physics…as long as you keep it moving, it behaves as a solid, but as soon as you put it down, it morphs back into a liquid. Crystal over at Growing a Jeweled Rose loves this stuff…she calls it “Goop” and has even posted a roundup of 25 different ways to play with it. Check it out for more gooey inspiration!
We simply added our sea creatures, a few bowls, pails, and shovels, and we were good to go!
We made a colossal mess all over the patio, but it was easily cleaned up with the water hose. And it didn’t cost me a thing!
Activity #2: Cold Sea Foam
This was another spur-of-the-moment activity I put together to occupy the twins during the “witching hour,” which at our house is around 4:30, or after nap/snack but before Daddy gets home from work. It’s too late (and hot) to go anywhere, but too early for dinner…what’s a busy toddler to do but whine or get into mischief? On this particular day I grabbed a plastic container, stole a few squirts of my husband’s shaving cream, and threw in some “ocean ice” that I had set aside for just such an occasion. I found some cheap sea creature ice molds at Ikea last Spring and snatched them up knowing they had about a jillion uses. I dug them out when we started our ocean unit and filled them with water and blue food coloring. It was nice to have this fun ice on hand, but regular ice could easily be substituted in its place!
Toots wasn’t too sure at first…look at her wrinkly nose!
Little Man joined in and both kiddos enjoyed picking out all the sea creatures and placing them carefully into their little buckets.
And then dumping them right back out again.
They also enjoyed painting every inch of our patio furniture with the shaving cream using their shovels as “brushes.” When Daddy got home, they painted his jeans, too. Hey, whatever keeps them happy, right? It’s all in the name of learning
Activity #3: Jellyfish in a Bottle
This has to be my favorite activity from this post- I got the idea from BhoomPlay, and after a bit of trial and error, the finished product turned out awesome! Check out her post for details, she even has a short video of her son playing with his jellyfish, which illustrates just how cool this sensory bottle is in motion!
This is not an activity that can be easily created with younger kids, because it takes a bit of finagling to get it to work right. I made mine yesterday during nap time so the kids could discover it when they woke up. I used Smart Water bottles as the containers (I removed the labels with some Goo Gone) and a thin plastic bag from the produce aisle of the grocery store for the jellyfish.
The only other change I made to the original tutorial was instead of using thread to tie off the bubble that creates the “hood” of the jellyfish, I used one of my daughter’s tiny elastic hair bands. I was having trouble getting the thread tight enough to hold in the air and water needed to make the jellyfish float and sink when the container was flipped, but the stretchy band solved my problem.
Toots was up first from her nap, and she found our new “pet” right away. It really seems to be alive inside the bottle because the little air bubble makes it “swim” up from the bottom every time you flip it over.
She brought it right over to Daddy to tell him all about it.
Then she had to compare our new jellyfish to the picture of the jellyfish in our ocean picture book.
And then she couldn’t resist giving all the jellyfish a big fat smooch
It’s safe to say she liked it! Now that I have figured out the logistics of creating these little guys, next time I plan to embellish the jellyfish a bit with some tiny ribbon or metallic string mixed into the tentacles. Fun, fun, fun!