Since we went to SeaWorld Bobcat has been talking lots about dolphins.  We bought a set of plastic animals whilst we were there which have beeen great for playing with in the bath (we got the idea from their cousins and it is so much better than having squeezy bath toys that get full of mould!) 

Little Monkey also seems to be a fan of underwater animals, though we aren’t really sure which as she currently thinks all sea animals are called “Dory”. So I figured oceans would be a good play theme!

We started ocean week the messy way – making blue and green spaghetti! This was actually a really interesting process to do with Bobcat. First we looked at the precooked spaghetti – I pointed out to him how straight it was and encouraged him to try bending it to see what would happen (it snapped!) Then as we cooked it, we took bits out to see how it was changing. After it was cooked we washed it in cold water and then he helped me put it into ziplock bags. Then we added food colouring and vinegar and mixed it around in the bags. He really enjoyed being part of the cooking and colouring process, and we talked lots about how things change when you cook them. 

After the spaghetti had dried I put it in the tuff tray with our ocean animals 

Finding the animals in the spaghetti was lots of fun, especially when you lifted lots of spaghetti up and the animals fell out 

The way the spaghetti had been dyed also made for some interesting conversations as we looked for strands that were different shades of blue and green, and then some that got darker or lighter in the middle

We also looked for the longest pieces we could find.

When we were finished playing with the spaghetti I put it in a box in the fridge to use again later in the week – we wanted to make the most of it after going to the effort of dying it. Next time we played with it the colours were much more mixed 

In the afternoon we used the instructions from Stay at home educator to make salt dough star fish. I chose this recipe because I liked the addition of salt to the paint, as well as the idea of cooking it quickly in the microwave. In reality this didn’t go so well as I put our salt dough creations on a (microwaveable) ceramic plate and forgot to put any oil or anything on. 5 minutes later the salt dough was stuck to the plate like it was part of it!! I eventually managed to get them off and some spray oil plus stopping the microwave every minute to move them round did the trick! 

Whilst I was manically trying to cook and then detach the salt dough from the plate, the children watched a video about star fish on YouTube and thought about what colours they would like their starfish to be. This resulted in Bobcat insisting on calling them the correct term of “sea stars” like in the video (as apparently they are not fish!) 

Painting the sea stars was lots of fun and the texture came out really interesting with the salty paint.

Later I tried covering them in modge podge to prevent the colour rubbing when wet. This didn’t really seem to work, but did perhaps make them a little more durable for when Little Monkey carries them around the house and drops them on the floor. She is a definite fan of the sea stars, carrying them from one room to another. She has even started sorting them by colour (with a little help from big brother).

Alongside the ocean themed sensory play and craft, I was inspired by Molly moo crafts to make some simple ocean themed card games. First I made a very rough homemade version of Molly Moos “don’t wake the shark”

Bobcat has just got to the stage where he understands and enjoys games like this and he definitely took a liking to this game. 

I was also inspired by this to make a simple game of pairs 

And I took the opportunity to make another activity I have been wanting to make for a while. This activity uses foam fish and simple instruction cards telling you what fish to put in the fishbowl (the lid of the container). This was a good activity for practicing number recognition and counting. Some of the cards also introduced opportunities for basic addition (2 red fish, 2 blue fish, how many altogether?)

Later in the week we got out the playdough and our new ocean animal shape cutters to create an ocean scene like the one on Sand in my toes

We also used oil pastels and watercolours to create some underwater scenes like Buggy and buddy

Our last adventure with the sea spaghetti before changing the tuff tray was rather more interesting and messy, as it didn’t take long for Bobcat to get into the tray and get spaghetti all over himself. Little Monkey then wanted to join in (though she seemed less convinced when her big brother started covering her head in spaghetti) resulting in lots of fun and mess. 

The clean up for this really was epic (and included immediate showers to try and remove the sticky blue spaghetti from hair) but was totally worth the fun and laughter!

After we were finished with the spaghetti we used the tuff tray for our water bead ocean. 

Waterbeads are really beautiful and interesting. They start off really tiny and then you add water and they expand. They are also surprisingly bouncy! (Little Monkey spent a while chasing one around like a bouncy ball after we finished this activity) This meant that they really easily bounced out of the tray and all over the room! Thankfully those we didn’t collect back into the tray shrunk back to being tiny quite quickly and could be hoovered up! 

We spent time diving the animals in and out of the waterbeads (if they were fully submerged it was actually surprisingly hard to see them). Bobcat was facinated by the lines they made when he rolled them along the dry part of the tuff tray 

And everyone enjoyed dipping their hands in and using plastic cups to transfer the waterbeads from one bowl to another 

Playing with the waterbeads was a great way to end our time exploring oceans, though I haven’t quite worked out how to get them to shrink again… 

(Bobcat is 3 and a half, Little Monkey is 19 months)

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