It’s not every day that you can take your kids in a submarine to explore the depths of the ocean. Okay, maybe on the “never happening” plan of events. I’m so thankful for our aquariums that allow our kids to learn about animals that they would never see in their daily life. This printable ocean animal pattern block activity for preschool is a great way to start the conversation about some of the animals that live in parts of the ocean they may never see (unless they decide to become marine biologists!. Working on fine motor skills, visual discrimination and scanning are also great bonuses for this fun preschool activity.
Ocean Activities for Preschoolers
Doing ocean activities with your preschoolers is a great way to teach them about the world outside of their little zone. Most preschoolers don’t understand the concept of city, state, country, let alone the fact that there are entire oceans that separate them from other parts of the world.
As you are learning about individual ocean animals through conversation, books and activities, you can discuss the natural habitats of the animals in the ocean and expand your preschooler’s thinking beyond their natural living space.
Visiting the Ocean with Preschoolers
Plus, I believe that teaching preschoolers about animals that live in the ocean is also a great way to build empathy and an understanding of why it is so important for us to take care of the world around us and why we should protect endangered animals.
While we try to make a visit to the ocean at least once a year, it’s a *little* bit hard to take your preschool class there..
Unless of course you are lucky enough to live right on the water.
Short of taking a boat ride out into the deep, blue sea, there are other fun ways to expose preschool kids to the animals that live in the ocean.
Aquariums are a fantastic way for kids to see ocean life close up! Even when you are at the ocean, you don’t actually get to see all the amazing ocean life that is hiding inside the waters.
Which is probably a good thing, considering our last trip to Myrtle Beach there were “dangerous animals” in the water for several days. I did not want to see that.
If you can’t go to one of the big aquariums around the nation (the Atlanta Aquarium is by far our favorite), see if there is a local, smaller aquarium that you can go to. Here on the Mississippi River, we have a smaller aquarium where the kids can go and pet alligators! It’s definitely not a blue whale, but showing kids that there are (any kind) of animals that live in the water can give them a bigger sense of understanding of the animals that they don’t get the option to see.
You can also find some awesome videos on YouTube that can show kids the different animals that live in the ocean.
And there is always Finding Nemo…lol!
As we get ready to make our trip to the ocean or an aquarium, I like to incorporate activities about ocean animals for my youngest daughter. I do have teens and tweens (how did that happen!?!?!) who are animal lovers and enjoy doing their own research on their favorite animals. Even for teens, a trip to the ocean can inspire them to a future career because there are so many pieces to providing a safe world for those beautiful animals.
I also have a special needs 8 year old, who loves learning about animals, so I created this set of free printable ocean animal pattern block mats for her.
Fine Motor Activities for Preschool
Shiloh actually has great fine motor skills considering her diagnosis, but it is important to us to continue to work on them, so that we can hopefully prevent some of the regression that is commonly seen in girls with Rett Syndrome.
Free Occupational Therapy Activity for Special Needs Kids
These free printable pattern block activities can also be used to work on:
Visual discrimination skills:
- Which picture is different?
- Mark the shapes that you use.
- Matching pattern block pieces to the image on the mat
Fine motor skills:
- Picking up the pattern block pieces
- Placing the pattern block shapes onto the correct place on the pattern block mat
- Pre-writing skills by crossing off the matching shapes and circling the picture that does not match
Visual Scanning Strength
- Scan the image to find the matching pattern block pieces
- Scan the set of three images to find which picture does not match
- Scan the shape images at the bottom of the page and the ocean animal image to find matching shapes
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Make Differentiation Easy
For us these are skills that we work on daily. But you are probably already working on these essential skills with your preschoolers without a lot of extra effort.
Even if you are not working with kids who have special needs, these pattern block mats are a great way to continue to build on these essential skills that kids will need throughout their life!
These free printable ocean animal pattern block mats will just add to your awesomeness!
We have discovered over the last few months that visual scanning strength can be directly related to Shiloh’s ability to stay focused on an activity and seem to be a big reason why she struggles so much with things like one-to-one correspondence when counting because her eyes need to stay focused on the items.
We’ve been going to vision therapy for six weeks, but Shiloh hates it with a passion because it makes her eyes so tired.
These ocean animal pattern mats are like a dose of magical medicine for us. It’s ‘occupational therapy’ that doesn’t create a battle of wills because she thinks they are so fun! And I love that she gets to work on so many of her trouble areas through play!
I hope you will enjoy them too!
Pair the ocean animal pattern block mats with these great Ocean Books for preschoolers!
Hello, World! Ocean LifeNational Geographic Kids Look and Learn: Ocean Creatures (Look & Learn)Guess Who Ocean FriendsOver in the Ocean: In a Coral ReefMoonlight Ocean (Lightbeam Books)Pop-up Peekaboo: Under the Sea