Ocean-themed Play Ideas

As young minds explore the wonders of the world, introducing them to the captivating realm of the sea and oceans can be an exciting and educational experience. An under-the-water theme not only ignites their imagination but also provides a platform for learning about marine life, the importance of conservation and the beauty of our planet.

In this blog post, we will share a collection of play ideas tailored for 1 to 5 year olds that will immerse them in an deep sea adventure, fostering creativity, cognitive development, physical skills and a love for our blue planet.

Sensory Seashell Hunt

Transform your play area into a beach scene by filling a large container with sand. Hide a variety of seashells within it, and encourage your little ones to embark on a sensory seashell hunt. Provide them with shovels, buckets and sieves to scoop and sift through the sand. As they discover each seashell, encourage them to explore its texture, colour, and shape, stimulating their tactile senses. Engage in conversations about the creatures that once lived inside these shells, introducing them to basic marine biology concepts. Extend the activity by offering art supplies to create beautiful seashell collages or use the shells to decorate sandcastles.

Seaweed Spaghetti

Colour spaghetti and other pasta shapes as you cook them, drain, then let the pasta cool. Place the cooled pasta in a tray with some sea creature toys wrapped up in the strands of spaghetti. Toddlers will enjoy feeling through the pasta, discovering the animals and untangling them from the twisty ‘seaweed’.

child playing with coloured spaghetti and wooden sea creature toys

Oceanic Water Play

Prepare a large bowl or tub by filling it with water. Enhance the experience by adding blue food colouring to the water. Offer your little ones a selection of toy sea creatures like dolphins, fish and turtles. Encourage them to explore the water, imitating the movements and sounds of the animals they see. Engage in pretend play, where they can act as marine biologists or ocean explorers, narrating their adventures and learning about different species. Provide additional props such as seashells, pebbles, and seaweed for added sensory stimulation. This activity promotes fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and imaginative play.

DIY Submarine Adventure

Transform a large cardboard box into a submarine, sparking imaginative play and storytelling. Cut out portholes, a front window and a doorway. Enjoy decorating the exterior together with paints or pens and the interior with drawings or images of underwater creatures. Place the box on the floor and invite your child to climb inside their submarine. Encourage them to describe their underwater journey, exploring the depths of the sea. Provide a small torch to act as a periscope, allowing them to discover hidden treasures or sea animals. Enhance the experience by creating an ocean soundscape with ambient sounds or gentle music. This activity fosters creativity, language development and problem-solving skills.

Bubble painting

Help them create their own bubbly seascape with bubble painting. You’ll need a bubble foamer, paper, water-based paints, bubble mixture, water and some plates. To make a bubble foamer, cut the end off a small plastic bottle, stretch a sock or piece of cloth over the open end and hold it on with a rubber band. If all that sounds a bit too much faff pick up a bamboo bubble foamer here, they can be used time and time again. Place a blob of paint on a plate with a blob of bubble mixture, mix the two together adding a little water to thin them out. Dip the end of the bubble foamer in the mixture, then hold it over your paper as you blow coloured bubble foam out of the foamer.

child creating bubble painting using bubble foamer

Ocean-themed Obstacle Course

Set up an ocean obstacle course in your living room or garden, incorporating elements inspired by the sea. Use blue blankets or sheets to represent the waves and create a “sea” for the children to cross. Place hoops, hula hoops and skipping ropes on the ground to imitate swimming through coral reefs. Set up a tunnel made from a large piece of cardboard or chairs with a sheet over the top, to simulate swimming through a cave. Encourage your little ones to hop, crawl or jump through the various obstacles, promoting gross motor skills, balance, and coordination. You can also include sea-themed props such as sea creature toys, sand buckets and boats to add an extra element of fun.

Storytelling and Puppet Play

Gather a collection of sea-themed storybooks suitable for young children, featuring tales of marine life, mermaids, or underwater adventures. Sit with your child and read the stories aloud, using expressive voices and gestures to bring the characters to life. After reading, invite your little ones to participate in puppet play, where they can create their own sea tales using puppets or sea animal toys. Encourage them to use their imagination, inventing stories about underwater friendships, treasure hunts or magical encounters with sea creatures. Provide simple craft materials to make paper bag puppets or finger puppets to extend the play further. This activity promotes language development, creativity and storytelling skills.

toddler playing with wooden whale and turtle and a book about the ocean


The sea and oceans offer an enchanting playground for young children to explore and learn. By incorporating themed play like these into their daily routines, you can create engaging experiences that spark their curiosity and nurture their development. From sensory seashell hunts to submarine adventures, each activity presents unique opportunities for cognitive growth, imaginative play and sensory stimulation. So, dive into the depths of play with your little ones, encouraging their love for the sea and a lifelong appreciation for the wonders of our oceans.

Get 10% Off

Join our mailing list to get free eco activity packs, special offers and more!
Excludes sale items