Mini Playscapes – Small World – Ocean Play

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Ocean Playscape Ideas

Our cool pool is a beautiful, bright blue ocean (dyed rice) with a sandy beach (split peas) and a reef of rocks. Ocean animals are taking a dip while the crab is off exploring.

It’s a really easy set up that takes a couple of minutes. Clearing up is easy too when using a colander to separate the rice and split peas.

I store most of my playscape resources in jars so that I can use them time and time again.

Floss is very much into scooping, pouring and transferring, so I always make sure there are some tools to aid this. For this playscape I used a set of Grimms Bowls and metal measuring spoons. 

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Scenery and Characters


  • Which is your favourite creature and why?
  • Research one of the animals and find out three facts you didn’t know before.

Brilliant Ocean Books

We adore ocean books and you can find lots of our favourites for a range of ages here.

Beneath the Waves – Helen Ahpornsiri

An incredible book made entirely from collages of plants. Stunning.

The Big Book of the Blue – Yuval Zommer

Have you discovered Yuval Zommer’s series of The Big Book of…. they’re all brilliant and a have sticker activity books too.

Mermaid Kenzie Protector of the Deeps – Charlotte Watson Sherman and Geneva Bowers

Another splendid book that I want to shout about is Mermaid Kenzie Protector of the Deeps. It’s published by @astrakidsbooks and @gmcpublications kindly sent us a copy to review.

Written by @charlottewatsonsherman and illustrated by Geneva Bowers.

As a family we read and review a lot of books. There’s oodles of excellent books and then every so often something comes along that really stands out – exceptional – Mermaid Kenzie is one such book.

I’ve always have a thing for books with beautiful words and Charlotte use these in abundance – ‘…past a school of silvery fish, wafting in shafts of filtered light…’

Diverse Books

It’s written in African American vernacular and the poetry of the story just sings to your soul and brings you down to the depths of the ocean with Kenzie.

Kenzie isn’t one for tidying, she has one passion, the sea. She explores the coastline, rock pools and puts on her mermaid tail to explore the ocean.

Horrifyingly, she sees the damage that is happening to the water and the habitats of her sea friends and vows to help tidy the ocean.

The palette of the illustrations are sublime blues, greens and yellowy golds. My daughter particularly loved the images and absolutely wants to be Kenzie.

A wonderful book, ideal for any mermaid or ocean lover and would make a lovely text to be explored for #WorldOceanDay. Here’s a link to the book.

When They’re Ready Phonics

Have words to match the different ocean creatures. If they are quite new to phonics then limit it to one animal per initial letter sound. This way they can just use the first letter of the creature to match.

Lots of ocean animals have digraphs (two letters that together make one sound) that can help children practise reading. For example – fish, shark, dolphin, seal, turtle, ray, lobster.

To find out more about phonics then head to my blog post series here.

When They’re Ready Maths

More and Less – Count the creatures in the scene ocean. How many would you have if one swam away? How many would you have if one more came into the water?

Estimate and Check – Take a pinch of rice. Estimate – how many grains of rice have you got? Count to check.

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Change It Up!

Want to make your playscape last longer? Remove the creatures and add/ make a boat. This is your pirate ship.

You could use small world play characters to man your ship. Don’t forget to add a plank and make sure there is plenty of pirate talk! Arrrrghh!

For more ocean themed ideas check out our ocean themed shelfie.

If you’re looking for ideas on setting up more sensory worlds such as this do check out this great blog post, packed full of ideas, from Livin’ Your Best Mom here.

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