With the aid of colorful illustrations (including googly eyes) we discussed what it means to add something to an object. In this case, there were two paper sea creatures.

Underneath each creature was a number. Between each creature was a “plus” sign.

A class discussion was then initiated as a means to relay the meaning of this exciting symbol.

We then added a counting element to this activity. Using googly eyes, we practiced adding them to our marine friends. Using real life items illustrates this complicated concept for young children, and enables them to make connections not allotted by simply using a paper and pencil.

Manipulating colorful materials also provides instant feedback, which enables students to create meaningful connections between a concept and its application to real world situations.

# Marine Mammal Matching

Though preschoolers are unable to yet read, there are several activities they can partake in that promote literacy.

One of these activities is recognizing letters.

To encourage focus, and promote an experience that will facilitate their pre-reading skills, your little one played a matching game.

For this activity, your little matched upper and lowercase letters (placed on plastic crabs) with letter stickers on a piece of paper, and paired each one with it’s match.

# Sea Creature Counting

I am very excited to talk about our adventures in math! By using googly eyes and paper cut-outs of sea creatures, we had the opportunity to practice our counting and number recognition. For the activity, each participant was given googly eyes and sea creatures with various numbers written on them.

They then placed the correct number of googly eyes on the paper, counting as they did so. After this, we talked about what the various numbers looked like. How “1” has a straight line like a pole, how “2” looks like a seahorse, and how “3” looks like bear ears. By counting, young children gain an understanding of concrete relationships. As they coordinate the counting with the adding of the eyes, your students learn that each object gets one number.

In gaining insight of concrete relationships, they further their comprehension that things can be given many different labels, and still have the same meaning. Preschoolers also need experiences to relay the meaning of symbols. They may look at a number on a piece of paper, but not make the association between that number and an amount. By providing the opportunity to see the number and count actual three dimensional objects, students participate in an effective developmental experience.

# Marine Biologists

Role play is a type of pretend play where children get into character and act out a role or real life context. While role play is a fun, and playful activity, it is also a key component of learning.  It is an active, social activity where children can get into character and use their imaginations to reflect on and develop their knowledge. This kind of learning is therefore an effective way for children to make sense of the world around them. For this activity, we pretended to be marine biologists! Using markers, paper, and clipboards, your little one looked at a variety of observation stations and recorded what they saw. These observation stations were set up like real ones in the field. Plastic animals were submerged in water and your little ones observed them like real scientists! They then compiled their findings into notebooks that they took home!

# Goldfish Math

Using crackers and fish diagrams of varying numbers and amounts, we learned and revisited counting and Arabic numerals!

Each child was given a group of goldfish crackers, and a row with a different number on it.

The children were then asked what the number was, to put their fish on the quantity (displayed as fish), and to count their fish as they did so. These goldfish rows ranged from 1-10.

Once again, we are using things that our little ones are naturally interested in to teach about counting, numeral recognition, and patterns!

Not limited to just numbers, preschool math incorporates a broad range of skill sets and knowledge including sorting, colors and recognizing groups and patterns.

These activities teach our little ones about problem solving and using logic. This activity also involved fine motor skills, as they manipulated Their fish and attached them to their rows.

# Crab Habitats

For this activity, we combined clay, rocks, and sea shells to learn about crabs!

By using clay, we created habitats for our little creatures and learned a new word: detrivore!

Crabs live among the rocks, and often eat the remains of what other fish live behind. This is what a detrivore is! The children delighted in manipulating the clay, and providing the perfect home for their little crab.

# Lagoon Collaborative

Hands-on learning is an integral component in early childhood education. The manipulation and experimenting of materials provide a reference of learned concepts, and enables young children to construct meaningful experiences that aid their ability to commit new information to memory.

Your little one learned that a lagoon is a shallow body of water, separated from the ocean by a reef or sandbank. They also learned that these water bodies are quiet, and can vary in length. Using rocks, shells, sand, and water, we created our own lagoon!

We created two bodies of water. The larger of the two was the “ocean”, and the smaller, the “lagoon”. We then used rocks as the “reef”, and then added sand and sea creatures to supplement our play.

# Migrating Whales

There are several species of whale that populate our oceans. These environments can be an exciting and foreign place to most children, and studying this unique biome helps them understand a place different than their own.

For this portion of our ocean theme, we tackled the migration of the blue whale. Your little one participated in a variety of activities to help them learn about this magnificent creature. The first were our gray whale puzzles. Puzzles are an early learning favorite for educators and children alike! By matching the shapes to complete the picture of the whale, students develop important skills such as problem solving and shape, pattern and color recognition.

We then talked about what breaching was. We watched a short video of this action, and then, using plastic whales at the water table, practiced breaching on our own!

Your little ones have a powerful desire to explore and question the world around them.

They couple their imaginations with accessible materials to recreate many of the situations they learn about on a daily basis. They do this as a means to integrate the known with the unknown.

The final component of our whale unit involved looking at a globe and noting the blue whale’s migration from Alaska to Mexico, and then constructing our version of the Arctic Ocean using foam, plastic whales, and crystal beads. We talked about the different animals that live in cold areas, what glaciers are, and explored concepts such as hot and cold, freezing and boiling, and words such as beluga whales, polar bears, seals, flippers, and ice floe (a flat expanse of floating ice).

# Sea Grass Habitats

Seahorses spend their time bobbing in the sea grasses and coral reefs and due to their colorings, are able to camouflage themselves pretty effectively into the aquatic plants and larger coral so as to hide from their predators.

To help your little ones understand the swaying movement of this creature, we created our own version of this underwater habitat, using play dough, pipe cleaners, plastic leaves, and sea horses!