Crashing waves, exotic marine life, rocks and shells are ocean elements that often captivate young children. Turn their fascination of the ocean into a learning opportunity by inserting an ocean-themed unit into a preschool curriculum. Through hands-on and engaging activities, you can whisk children away to the beach and allow them to explore the wonders of the ocean while teaching important literacy skills.
Ocean Word Sort
Provide children with ocean-themed toys or pictures of ocean-related items; whales, fish and dolphins, for example. On a sheet of construction paper, write out the letters that each of the items begin with and instruct children to sort through the items and place them on top of the letters that they begin with. For instance, whales would go on the letter "W," fish would go on the letter "F" and so on. This phonemic awareness activity encourages children to identify the initial consonant sound in ocean-related words.
Lower case, Uppercase Match
Draw or print out pictures of seashells. On one set of shells, print upper case letters and on the other, print lower case letters. Spread the upper case shells on the floor and place the lower case shells in a facedown pile. One child at a time takes a shell with a lower case letter and tries to match the letter to the upper case shell. If a child makes a correct match, she keeps the shells; if she's incorrect, she replaces the card on the bottom of the pile and the next player takes a turn. The child with the most shells at the end of the game wins.
Read ocean-themed literature with children. Select a series of titles to read, including "Swimmy" by Leo Leoni, "By the Seashore" by AJ Wood and "Seaweed Soup" by Stuart J Murphy. Promote reading comprehension by asking children questions that relate to the stories before, during and after reading. After reading the stories, have children draw pictures that illustrate their favourite parts and invite them to share their pictures, further increasing their comprehension.
Letter Writing Practice
Provide children with letter-writing practice while studying the ocean by having them write letters in sand. Spread sand out on baking trays and say a letter to children; kids should use their fingers to write the letter that you've said in the sand. This tactile approach to writing will help children gain a better understanding of the how letters are formed, as they commit the formation of letters to their muscle, or motor, memory. You could also use this activity to encourage letter-sound recognition by saying the sound a letter makes and having children write the letter in the sand.
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