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Sensory Tub And Collage Seascape/Oceanscape Lesson Plan For Preschool Children Aged 3 To 4 Years.

Updated on February 22, 2017


This lesson plan is for preschool educators who want to implement a sea/ocean-themed extended four week learning experience for children aged 3 to 4 years. Some educators might want to change some of the activities, or increase or shorten the length of time over which the experience is delivered, to suit the needs of the children in their care.

This learning experience is designed to be implemented in a confined space and includes the use of natural items. It is best enjoyed as a small group experience.

I provide information about the developmental significance of this learning experience as well as linking to the Australian Early Years Learning framework, 'Belonging, Being & Becoming'.

Week 1

Exploring the sea/ocean activity for children aged 3 to 4 years.


  • Large plastic tub on a stand or sensory table
  • Water
  • Sea shells
  • Sea weed from the beach – washed and boiled prior before use to remove germs
  • Sand
  • Salt (optional)
  • Toy boats
  • Posters and pictures of the ocean, beaches, marine wildlife
  • CDs of:
    • Ocean sounds
    • Whale songs
    • Dolphin songs

This sensory play activity simulates the sea/ocean by filling the tub with water and adding sand, sea shells, sea weed and toy boats. If you know some of the children will be putting mouthing some of the toys (and let's face it, some 3 and 4 year-olds still do), you might want to consider adding salt to the water to give them an oral sensory experience.

Children can play at the tub in a small group, manipulating the objects while sharing and taking turns as sounds of the ocean, whale songs and/or dolphin songs play in the background.

Hang the pictures and posters on walls around the area of the activity, or around the classroom.

Educators should engage the children in conversations about the activity, eg:

  • Discussing how the objects feel and look,
  • Discussing the sounds they are hearing,
  • Discussing what kinds of things they might find in the sea/ocean or on a beach,
  • Asking the children about any experiences they’ve had at beach/sea/ocean.

This activity promotes the development of:

Physical skills:

  • fine motor skills: pincer grip, transporting small objects
  • gross motor skills: moving objects around in the tub

Social and Emotional Skills:

This experience will:

  • allow children to be in complete control of their actions and experiences, boosting their confidence in decision making and inspiring their eagerness to learn and experiment.
  • help children learn about cooperation and collaboration.
  • give children the opportunity to express themselves and become confident in sharing their ideas with others - this helps boost their self-esteem.

Language skills:

  • This experience will encourage children to use descriptive and expressive language, and to find meaning behind words that were previously meaningless or gibberish.¹

Creative skills:

  • During this experience, children will engage in make-believe play which helps them express their creativity.

Week 2


As per week 1 plus:

  • Books about the sea.
  • Toy marine animals.
  • Removing the toy boats (optional).

This activity is set up as per week 1 but the toy boats are replaced with toy marine animals, although you may leave the boats if the children are still enjoying them. .

The experience is the same as per week 1 plus:

  • for the whole week, stories about the sea/ocean are read at story time.

This activity promotes the development of:

Physical skills:

  • As per week 1

Social and emotional skills:

  • As per week 1

Language skills:

  • As per week 1 plus:
  • Children’s vocabulary is enhanced through story-reading.

Creative skills:

  • As per week 1 plus:
  • Story-telling stimulates children’s imagination and creativity.

Week 3


As per weeks 1 & 2 plus:

  • Toy boats

This activity is set up as per week 2 but the toy boats are put back in. The toy marine animals are also left in.

This sensory play experience is the same as the previous two weeks plus:

For the whole week, the following songs about the sea are taught/sung during group time:

  • A sailor went to sea sea sea
  • 1 2 3 4 5 once I caught a fish alive
  • I'm A Little Fishy (tune of I'm a little tea pot)
    • I'm a little fishy watch me swim
      Here is my tail
      Here is my fin
      When I want to have fun with my friends
      I wiggle my tail and dive right in
  • Fish in the Sea (sung to the tune of the wheels on the bus)
    • The fish in the sea go swim, swim, swim
    • swim, swim, swim, swim, swim, swim
    • The fish in the sea go swim, swim, swim All day long
    • The lobsters in the sea go pinch, pinch, pinch
    • pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch, pinch
    • The lobsters in the sea go pinch, pinch, pinch
    • All day long
    • The octopus in the sea go wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
    • wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
    • The octopus in the sea go wiggle, wiggle, wiggle
    • All day long
    • The crabs in the sea go click, click, click
    • click, click, click, click, click, click
    • The crabs in the sea go click, click, click
    • All day long

And songs about the sea are played in the background while the children play, eg:

  • Octopus’ garden – The Beatles
  • Baby Beluga in the deep blue sea
  • We all live in a yellow submarine – The Beatles
  • Under the Sea – from the Little Mermaid movie

At the end of the week the tub is emptied and the shells, sand and seaweed are left to dry over the weekend for the following week’s activity.

This activity promotes the development of:

Physical skills:

  • As per weeks 1 & 2.

Social and emotional skills:

  • As per weeks 1 & 2.

Language skills:

  • As per weeks 1 & 2 plus:
  • Children’s vocabulary and speech are enhanced through songs and singing.

Musical skills:

  • Children learn about rhythm and develop an appreciation of music through songs and singing.

Creativity skills:

  • As per weeks 1 & 2 plus:
  • Children's creativity and imagination are enhanced through song and singing.

Week 4

Sea/ocean theme group collage activity.


  • Sea shells
  • Sea weed
  • Sand
  • Non-toxic glue
  • Large sheet of paper
  • Paint


A large sheet of paper (large enough for several of the children to work on it together at the same time) is placed on the floor in an area where it can be left for the week while the children work on it.

The children use the paint and natural items to create a seascape collage that will be hung up for display on a wall once the glue has dried.

You might need to supervise the children closely and give them guidance about how much of the paper they should each use up, as some children might be inclined to use up the whole sheet of paper or to paint over other children's efforts. For this reason, this activity is best implemented in small rotating groups of children, say three to four children at a time.

Educators engage the children in conversation about what they are doing by asking open-ended questions, listening to children when they speak and acknowledging their verbal contributions.

Day 1: The children are given paint to paint the sea/ocean and ocean creatures on the paper. The paint is left to dry overnight.

Day 2: The children add sand to the collage.

Day 3: The children add sea weed to the collage.

Day 4: The children add the sea shells to the collage.

Day 5: The glue should be dry so the collage is hung-up on the wall for everyone to admire. To celebrate our masterpiece we sing some of the songs we sang in week 3.

This activity promotes the development of:

Physical skills:

  • fine motor skills: pasting, painting, using pincer grip to pick-up items
  • gross motor skills: painting, picking up items and moving them to the sheet of paper

Creative skills:

  • Through art/craft activities children use their imagination, this helps to develop their creativity.


  • Children's confidence grows when they are allowed to express themselves freely through creative outlets.
  • Children's confidence is boosted when their work is appreciated.

Analysis skills develop as Educators scaffold children's learning by helping them break a large task down into smaller parts by asking:

  • What should we do first?
  • What comes next?
  • What else can we do?
  • What is the last thing we will do to complete this project?

Social skills:

  • Children learn to work collaboratively as part of a group.

Language skills:

  • Children express what they are doing and in so doing and expand their vocabulary.
  • Children learn to listen to others who are speaking to them or to the group.

Links to Australian Early Years Learning Framework

EYLF (Australian Early Years Learning Framework) outcomes:


  • 1.1 - Children feel safe, secure, and supported
  • 1.2 - Children develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience and sense of agency
  • 1.3 - Children develop knowledgeable and confident self-identities
  • 1.4 - Children learn to interact in relation to others with care, empathy and respect.


  • 2.1 - Children develop a sense of belonging to groups and communities and an understanding of the reciprocal rights and responsibilities necessary for active community participation
  • 2.3 - Children become aware of fairness
  • 2.4 - Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment


  • 3.1 - Children become strong in their social and emotional wellbeing
  • 3.2 - Children take increasing responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing


  • 4.1 - Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity.
  • 4.2 - Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.
  • 4.3 - Children transfer and adapt what they have learned from one context to another.
  • 4.4 - Children resource their own learning through connecting with people, place, technologies and natural and processed materials.


  • 5.1 - Children interact verbally and non-verbally with others for a range of purpose.
  • 5.2 - Children engage with a range of texts and gain meaning from these text
  • 5.3 - Children express ideas and make meaning using a range of media.




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