Mini Playscapes – Small World – Ocean Play

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Ocean Playscape

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 Natural 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

Beneath the Waves – Helen Ahpornsiri

An incredible book made entirely from collages of plants. Stunning. There are others in the series that you can find here.

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. To see the range head here.

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.

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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