Ocean theme jar in pre-school class

I just finished a lovely week full of ocean themed activities in my little SEN pre-school class and thought to share one activity that I’ve used every day in different variations. It is so simple and doesn’t need a lot of resources, but the kids loved it – it is hands on and hands in :)!

Ocean water jar and beach tray

You need

  • a big jar
  • plastic ocean animals
  • a tray
  • sand and water, liquid soap (and some blue glitter, if you want)


Ocean jar

Fill the jar with water, animals, and a little drop of soap. Add the sand to the tray.

In my Special Needs Class we used it in many different ways, all of them to promote communication (most of my kids are just starting to communicate by verbal communication):

  1. Set up in front of the kids, ask questions, e.g. “What do we do first/next?” (Open the jar, add the water, line up animals and add one by one, add glitter…)
  2. Shake the jar (close it first! ;)…) and let children observe how the animals swirl around. If you’ve added soap, let children request “bubble” and blow some of the soap foam from your hand
  3. My kids loved to “fish” for a certain animal in the water and to place it on the beach(or to pick an animal from the beach and  “splash” into the water), even kids that are usually not very keen to touch any kind of liquid or sticky materials due to sensory issues
  4. To introduce the word “wet” I fished for the animals in the water and touched the kids with the wet animals, saying “wet fish, wet whale, wet turtle…
  5. Many of my kids become really attentive when I provide visually appealing activities. They loved to observe swirling glitter or sand in the water
  6. We also used this ocean jar during other activities, e.g. children could “fish” for an animal to use it with their play dough or hide it in shaving cream

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