Activity for Kids: Make an Ocean in a Jar

Apr 18, 2014

Have you ever wished you could hold a little bit of ocean and all its mystery and beauty in your hands, whenever you wanted to? I have. And when I asked the children this question, I got a resounding "YES!" from each and every one of them. And so we set about making it happen. 

I gathered up all the elements we might need for our ocean-building quest and laid them out on the table. I labelled each element with a piece of masking tape and a marker. 


Materials Needed:
  • a good-sized jar
  • sand
  • shells
  • sea salt
  • plastic ocean animals

We had a bowl of soft sand from our sandbox, a jug of water that I coloured with blue food colouring as per request from the children. I gathered seashells of all sorts and sizes, a jar, and an assortment of plastic creatures one might find in the ocean. We also found some sea salt in the pantry! I also used our picture encyclopaedia as a visual reference for the children to look at and compare what we had gathered at our table to what they found in the book. Each child had a chance to feel and explore all the elements were using to build our ocean in a jar. The baby was fascinated by the oyster shells... 

But the biggest highlight was tasting the sea salt before we added it to the jar! 

Once we were finished exploring and discussing each of the items on our table, we got to building our own little ocean. I let the children decide what we should put in the jar, and in which order. They chose the sand first, so each of the kids poured a little bit of sand in the jar.Then we poured in the water... 

The children took turns adding a pinch of salt to the water, and then they decided which of the creatures and shells should go into the jar. They were enchanted with the result of their work... 

It was just so very beautiful. As the days have passed, the sand in our jar has settled and the blue water is crisp and clear. The children still enjoy sitting with their ocean in their hands and just watching. It seems to soothe their little souls. Much like the real ocean does.*Recommended: A picture reference guide of some sort for "fact checking", as you can be sure the children will have questions you may not know the answer to. "How long is the killer whale's tail?" and "What are the whiskers called on the lobster?" It never hurts to be prepared!

Article Author Arlee Greenwood
Arlee Greenwood

Arlee is an Early Childhood Educator, earning her degree at BYU Idaho. She runs a government accredited care center in her home in Red Deer, AB. She studied with the New York Institute of Photography and she owns her own photography studio. Arlee is a mother of 6, an aspiring yogi, a lover of books, bento box lunches, travel, good food and wine. She’s a blogger in her “spare time” and she will never say no to chocolate. Find her at Small Potatoes, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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