ocean week: handprint art | preschool crafts

This past January I was given the opportunity to start teaching my own preschool class once a week. The original teacher went on maternity leave so my supervisor asked if I would like to take over and I said “yes!” with basically no hesitation. Teaching preschool was the goal, and I felt so lucky to already have the opportunity to do so. 

The class I took over was the 2 year old program in the school I work for, and it was once a week introductory class for toddlers who had never been to school. It was a good way to be introduced into the real world of teaching, lesson planning and building a portfolio of sorts. I have taken some Early Childhood Education courses, but learning fundamentals and practicing and implementing them are all totally different things. 

The class I taught was a 2 hour class in the morning, so it really was an introductory school experience for the kids. Most of them hadn’t been potty trained either so the class really was mostly a way for them to get used to a routine – go to school, stay away from mom/dad/nanny for 2 hours, learn to participate in a group setting, do a craft, read a book, play outside, have a snack. Very short segments of things they’ll eventually do more regularly as they get older. 

Because of the age of my class, I had to find crafts that were quick and easy; a lot of them were one step activities. The good news is that most of what I made and am going to show you can easily be adapted for an older class as well. 

Now, with all that contextual info, I can get to what I did for our ocean themed week. 

I had found a few fish and crab handprint ideas on Pinterest as well as on a google image search. Sometimes I actually prefer the google image search because it shows you the project without any ads or massive trails of links (which is like my least favorite part of Pinterest). 

Most of the time I decide on which craft to do after I find a book to go along with it. This time I saw somebody’s idea for a striped hand print for Nemo and knew I had to do it. How fun and recognizable for the kids! They were so excited to hear we would be talking about nemo all day and make their own to take home! We could also easily talk about all the animals Nemo and Dory and Marlin encounter and thus, a whole ocean conversation bloomed. 

I found this Finding Nemo Read-Along book on Amazon. The best part is that it comes with the book on cd just to change it up a little. It’s amazing how one different thing can completely change the day, even though it’s technically the same activity. I like the Disney Read-Along books because the original voice actors are used for the CD so the kids really get he sense that they’re “watching Nemo”. At the 2 year old age it’s kind of like they’re watching a show, but as the kids get older it’s a great tool to supplement other phonics activities. 

For the craft I cut pieces of light blue construction paper in half because their hands were so little. To prep I also went in with a marker and drew on some seaweed at the bottom. I think drawing in coral with different colors, or an anemone would also be super cute! 

The kids all had their hands painted with orange and white stripes. If they were older I would totally let them do that it by themselves, and even draw on the seaweed by themselves. My little guys were just too little. 🙂 

I used sparkly orange paint, just to add in a little texture to the paper, and because I’m just super into glitter lol. It’s a little sheer but still works wonderfully with the White against the blue background. 

Next they glued on some big googly eyes and made a wavy line at the top of the page, to look like the surface of the ocean. They had the most fun sprinkling loose glitter on the wavy line. Glitter always is the biggest crowd pleaser 😂

It was a pretty easy craft and also quick to put together. The prep for it was about 10 minutes (because I drew on seaweed on each page). The kids had a lot of fun telling us about their favorite Nemo characters and were really excited to take home their handprints. 

Are there any other easy handprint crafts you guys like? I’d love to know in the comments! 

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