Ocean Themed Sensory Tub & Activities

After a day trip to the beach, my little guys were captivated by the ocean! Big Brother was asking all sorts of questions about animals that lived in shells and what they ate, and where their homes were. So,later in the week, during their afternoon nap, I set up a ‘surprise’ Ocean Themed Sensory Bin. (I love setting these up during their nap time and letting them discover it when they wake up. Their excitement is contagious!) This particular sensory bin provided opportunities for so many different activities for us to do together as well as some independent exploring time while I prepared dinner. We actually had this sensory bin set up the longest of any; 2 weeks! 


(These are the materials we used; feel free to use whatever you have at your home or pick and choose from our list) 
  • Sensory Tub
  • Blue Food Coloring (to add a slight tint to the water)
  • Water
  • Sand (from our outdoor sandbox)
  • Seashells
  • Coins
  • Snorkeling Mask
  • Floating sea animal toys
  • Toy Boat
  • Towels (optional; very helpful if playing indoors)

Ocean Themed Sensory Tub Activities:

1. Set up an Ocean Themed Sensory Tub while your little ones are taking a nap, or at night so they can wake up to it in the morning.  Let them discover the new Sensory Tub and have a ‘free play’ time where they can explore on their own. Then, take a break for a snack or breakfast (if in the morning) and discuss what they saw, felt, liked, ‘discovered’, etc. Encourage them to verbalize what just took place in their free play time.

2. Make waves. Encourage your child to use a toy boat to make waves. Discuss other things that make waves in the ocean or in water in general.

3. ‘Scuba dive’ for treasures. Have your child use a snorkeling mask and look into the water for treasures. You can bury coins, seashells, small toys, etc. in the sand and have them practice using their mask to see underwater. *Note: This activity was HUGE in increasing Big Brother’s confidence in putting his face in the water. This activity transferred easily into him being about to use his swimming goggles to eventually put his face in the water at the pool!

4. Introduce sensory words and encourage your child to verbally use those words to describe their Ocean themed Sensory Tub. When you are intentionally teaching your child a new word follow this easy routine: I do, We do, You do.

Sensory Words for an Ocean Themed Sensory Bin: cold, warm, rough, smooth, bumpy, sharp, hard, soft, etc.

Example: “Hey Buddy, check out this seashell I found! It’s really bumpy, feel it!” (I do.) “Do you think we can find something else in the water that’s bumpy? Let’s look.” -If they cannot easily find something bumpy, guide them into finding something that is. (We do.) “Buddy, do you think YOU can find something bumpy?” (You do.)




  1. This is awesome – wish I had seen it two weeks ago. My husband and I took a Caribbean vacation and I wanted to leave the kids with some beach/ocean activities. I left some salt water experiments and sand activities plus a great fish craft but this would have been awesome!

  2. Looks like so much fun! I would love for you to share this (and any other creations) at Pin It and Win It Wednesday @ http://www.cheapcraftymama.com!

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