Inside: Here are 9 super fun ocean activities for grandparents to do with grandkids. Fishing, drawing, painting, books & crafts—great ways to make the ocean come alive!
Ocean Activities for Grandkids
For 40 years our family lived 10 minutes from the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. We could feel the ocean breezes from our home and our kids loved going to the beach and digging and burying their feet in the sand as they watched the waves splash against the shore.
There is something therapeutic about water, sand, and ocean breezes.
Did you know that children can use their 5 senses at the beach?
- hearing the sounds of the waves hitting against the shore
- smelling the ocean breeze
- seeing seagulls flying in the sky
- touching and digging in the sand
- tasting the salty ocean air
This week our grandparent/grandchildren theme is “Ocean Activities”—9 activities that remind grandkids of sun, sand, and turf.
#1: Field Trip: Fishing at a Fish Farm
Traditional fishing is great, but when you have little grandkids and you want them to all catch a fish—you go to a fish farm—because catching a fish is a guarantee! (no, this isn’t the ocean—but lakes are a close second)!
Find out the location of fish farms in your area. At our local fish farm, all four of our grandkids caught a fish—within the first 60 seconds of throwing in their lines. In fact, they caught more than one.
Here are some things we learned:
- You don’t need a fishing pole for each child. Each of our grandkids had a fishing pole and they caught fish at the same time. We helped the first grandchild take the fish off her hook, then went to help the next grandchild. Before we could say anything, the first grandchild threw in her line again—catching another fish. So—depending on how many grandkids you take—just get a couple of fishing poles to share…unless you want to take home a dozen fish!
- We had the fish cleaned and fileted at the farm and then sent them home with the grandkids for their parents to cook. This is the way the parents can join in the fun!
- Read the book, Piggy and Dad Go Fishing by David Martin prior to going to the fish farm—it’s a fun book and outlines one of the trials of fishing with little kids—they don’t want their fish hooked and killed!
#2: Octopus Alphabet Game
It’s easy to play–roll the alphabet dice; match to the letter on the octopus and put a marker on the letter.
Even though the older grandkids already know the alphabet, they still enjoyed the game. Why? I gave them M&Ms to use as their markers on the octopus’s tentacles as they found the letters.
This is the perfect game to use as a “filler” between activities. Prior to the grandkids coming, I organize all the activities, but sometimes you need a few minutes between activities. Plus, the grandkids are able to play this game by themselves.
#3: Process Art: Ocean Activity of Painting the Ocean
This ocean activity is an example of process art, meaning it requires numerous steps before finishing the project and there is a waiting time between each step.
There are 3 steps in this art project. The first step is painting the canvas. Inspiration: Art Bar
Supplies: all from the Dollar Store
- Tempera paints: white, green & 2 blue colors (Prang)
- 2 Appetizer dishes for mixing paint
- Foam brushes
- Squirt blue and green paint in each appetizer dish
- Squirt white paint on each color and have the grandkids mix the colors to create lighter blues and greens–the colors of the ocean. Psychologists say that children who like mixing paint colors are calmer and more connected to their emotions.
- Add glitter to the paint or wait until their ocean is complete to add glitter
- Using a foam brush, paint the entire canvas. Encourage them to paint short, brisk strokes so that it looks more like the ocean
- This has to dry completely before you can add the seashells
#4 Ocean Activities: Dyeing seashells
Step #2 is dyeing seashells which will later be glued onto the ocean canvas.
- White seashells (Dollar Store)
- Containers to dye the shells
- Food Coloring
- Paper towels
Mix together in a jar:
- 1/3 cup water
- 3 Tablespoons white vinegar
- 20 drops of food coloring
- Put one or two seashells in the water/vinegar mixture
- Let the shells soak in the mixture at least 5 minutes.
- Remove from liquid and let dry on paper towels
When dry, the grandkids can glue them onto their painted canvas ocean. Inspiration: Summer Sensory Bin
#5: Kitchen Ocean Activities: Making a Coral Reef
Step #3 is making a coral reef and putting the entire project together.
I’ve seen coral reefs made out of melted sugar and ice, but melted sugar is way too hot for little kids to work with so I decided to use melted chocolate instead. They turned out amazing!
- Pebble ice
- Chocolate—in various colors. I used Wilton chocolate
- Put about 6-8 cups of pebble ice in a deep dish
- Melt the chocolate in a microwave
- Pour the chocolate over the pebble ice
- The chocolate fills in around the pebble ice creating lots of nooks and crannies–similar to what you see when looking at different pictures of coral reefs.
- Let the ice melt, take out the chocolate and you have a colorful coral reef!
- Attach the reef to your ocean painting. Since the reef is chocolate, the grandkids just placed it on their ocean painting and we took pictures
Once this is done–you’ve completed the entire art project. Recap:
- #1: Paint the canvas
- #2: Dye the seashells & glue them on the canvas.
- #3: Make the coral reefs and put them on the painting
Make this an educational experience and share these tips about coral reefs with your grandkids:
- Coral is made from tiny organisms called polyps
- Coral gets their beautiful array of colors from algae called zooxanthellae
- Their hard calcium carbonate skeletons contain bands, similar to tree rings, and record changes in temperature, water chemistry, and water clarity.
- Coral reefs are called the “rainforest of the sea” because they host about 25% of all ocean species.
#6: Craft: Rainbow Fish
This was a super fun craft I found at A Little Pinch of Perfect. Again, it’s process art because there are several steps.
- Each grandchild paints a paper plate with tempera paints. Allow it to dry completely.
- Cut out fins from colored paper and glue onto the fish
- Attach glittery stickers
- Paint fins using toilet paper rolls that have been cut in half and cut in half again. Dip in the paint and onto the paper plate to create fins.
You can make this project fun for older kids (5-8) by talking to your grandkids about the different kinds of colorful fish found in the ocean.
#7: Ocean Activities: Paper Coral Reefs
Want to learn how to make coral reefs from paper? This activity works for older kids (5-8) because one of the steps is a bit tricky. However, it’s great for practicing rolling paper. Inspiration: Art Bar. I made several changes to fit our ocean theme.
- Cover a cardboard rectangle with white butcher paper
- Cut colored paper in different sizes
- Grandkids roll the paper into different size rolls
Our grandkids tried gluing the rolls onto the cardboard, but they kept coming undone, so I had them draw a circle of where they wanted the roll to be and I hot-glued it in place.
Once this step was done, the grandkids used ocean stickers to complete their coral reefs.
#8: Books About the Ocean
Every activity we do with our grandkids includes reading lots of books! We usually start the day reading books to introduce the 2-day theme. Here are some of our favorite ocean books:
Over in the Ocean in a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes
Hello, World! Ocean Life by Jill McDonald
Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck
How to Hide an Octopus and Other Sea Creatures by Ruth Heller
Commotion in the Ocean by Giles Andreae
I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry
Magic Beach by Alison Lester. This book is considered an Australian classic. It was first published in 1990 and is still wildly popular today! It’s a must for ocean-loving kids!
Along with reading each week, we also incorporate music into all of our themes. You can go on YouTube and download a lot of fun music and then march, dance, and move to the music with your grandkids. Remember: movement is an indispensable part of learning.
Here is music your grandkids will love that fits into the theme of “ocean activities.”
Under the Sea (Disney)
The Goldfish (Laurie Berkner)
Trading Ocean Activities for Mountain Activities
We no longer live near the ocean—we’ve left the comforts of being at sea level and traded them in for majestic mountain ranges and living at 5,000 feet above sea level. We have found that no matter where you live—there is something amazing to experience in nature.
What ocean activities do you do with your grandchildren? Please comment in the section below
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