oceans week: quick activities | preschool crafts

On Saturday I wrote about having an oceans themed week at camp, and I’m back with some more activities we did for Underwater Adventures week. I have two very quick crafts that always end up producing unique and pretty results, and a stack of great books we enjoyed that week.

The first craft was a starfish made out of Cheerios, and embellished with glitter. At this point you probably know that I’m really into glitter – I feel like it pulls any craft together, and makes any craft look fun and finished, especially if your original results aren’t what you thought it would be. There have been a lot of experimental art projects that have been done, and have just not ended up the way I would have liked. I always end up adding glitter and suddenly, it looks like 10x better. It’s like the mascara of the craft world (you know when you’ve done your makeup and you sort of hate it but then you put on mascara and it changes your entire face? That’s what glitter does to crafts).

I cut out a starfish out of orange paper, and kept it blank because it gave the kids the freedom to decorate it with whatever patterns they wanted. Because starfish naturally have a lot of texture to them, I wanted to represent that with something that was “no mess” (i.e. NOT sand) so Cheerios ended up being the main decorative piece of this craft.

Each kid was given some glue and a handful of Cheerios and they were able to put them on however they wanted.

Some of them clumped the Cheerios just in one spot, some did stripes, some did a letter, and some just put one or two on. I’m totally a person that ends up planning out crafts to almost annoying detail (hello, Virgo!), and have been trying to find more crafts where the kids could personalize their own pieces, so this was a great way for the kids to do that.

Next we gave the kids some glitter glue, although regular glue with loose glitter would have worked as well. Again, glitter just pulls things together and added more texture and dimension to the starfish. We put them all up on the bulletin boards after they dried, and the starfish simultaneously looked uniform and unique up on the board. The different Cheerio patterns and colors of glitter glue made the bulletin board a sparkly, rainbow, textured, exciting decorative element to the room.

The other craft we did had the kids make were paper plate seashells. I cut out a seashell shape and then drew on some stripes with thick permanent marker. It’s important to use something that won’t bleed with water because they’ll later go in with water color and if the pen bleeds, it’ll just be a cloudy black mess.

The idea with these is to use the “secret writing” technique of using white crayon to scribble and design first, then “revealing” it by painting with water color on top. The water color dries around the wax and ends up being these beautiful, delicate shells. It’s also something that any age can do, which was important with camp because the ages ranged from 3 to 5. That’s a huge developmental gap, also having a craft like this where everybody could participate and create something individually unique was important.

The water color we watered down quite a bit (we used liquid water color, so it was really easy to water down) just so that the colors didn’t mix too much and end up being too muddled on the shells. When posted up on the bulletin board next to the sea shells, they added a soft touch next to the bold and glittery starfish.

Each craft took about 5 minutes to prep, and about 5 minutes to create, so they really are quick and easy crafts for those of you that need a last minute activity in the day.

There are a lot of ocean themed books out there, from the classics like Swimmy to some newer favorites like Fancy Nancy. For camp, we have a daily story time, so I was able to pull out some of my well loved favorites, including the Rainbow Fish a post about that will be up soon.

I tried to mix in books that everybody, boys and girls, would like, and that all age ranges could enjoy. Although kids are perfectly happy reading pretty much anything, sometimes the simpler books are too easy for the older kids, but the more lengthy books can be too challenging. I wanted to make sure that each child was being introduced to an appropriate level because although it’s camp, I did want to keep a little bit of an academic background to the day.

Splashy Fins, Flashy Skins was a book the was donated to the preschool program by one of our students for his birthday (instead of bringing a sugary treat to school, we let the kids opt to bring in a book instead – some parents really appreciate that option). The book isn’t illustrated but rather it features photographs of fish and the writing all includes facts that rhyme and coincide each picture. The older kids we’ve had have loved learning about animals so this was a great option for them. The younger kids were exposed to rhyming and ocean imagery, and many of them requested to read this book multiple times.

The Pout Pout Fish is a rhyming-repeating story about a fish with a naturally grumpy face. He finally learns to smile when one of his friends gives him a kiss on the cheek, and then he goes and spreads smiles around the ocean. It’s a nice story that also reinforces friendship and happiness, over negativity. Plus, the rhyming and repeating phrasing encourages the kids to repeat the story out loud with you, and lets the kids participate. When the kids participate I feel like it really helps them get excited to read books.

Swimmy is a classic so I’m not going to go too in-depth about it, but not only are the illustrations beautiful, the kids really like the idea of teamwork highlighted in the story. If you have any fish stamps, it’s also a great story to make crafts with. If you trace out the shape of a big fish, then stamp in a bunch of red fish and one black fish, then it’s a recognizable craft for the kids, as well as a quick and easy one.

Fancey Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet isn’t actually about the ocean at all – it’s about Nancy learning to celebrate her friends’ success in the ballet, as she supports her starring role as the Mermaid in their ballet class’ recital. I picked this one up on Amazon assuming it’d be more about mermaids, but I was wrong. It still is a fun story about friendship, and in classic Fancy Nancy style, includes beautiful illustrations, and fancy words.

I hope this post was helpful to any of you that are having an upcoming ocean’s week at school – if you have any other books or crafts or ideas, I’d love to know! One area where I feel like I lack in lesson planning would be more finger play and singing, so if there are any ocean themed songs I’d also love some suggestions!

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