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Adrian 43 months SENSORIAL 🖐️👀👂👅👃 Unit Study ZOOLOGY 🐘 🐠 🕊️🐞 🐢

Ocean Water-Beads Sensory Play


Ocean Water-Beads Sensory Play is designed for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergarteners to promote sensory play through fun hands-on small world play with toy sea animal figurines.

June 8th is World Oceans Day, so we are exploring Ocean through water-beads sensory play along with our favorite toy sea animal figurines.


As always, we begin any unit study by referring to books while exploring our animal figurines. Children love National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the Ocean (buy here). The book is a comprehensive animal reference, including the sea’s high-interest animals (such as dolphins, sharks, sea otters, and penguins) as well as some of its lesser-known creatures. More than a hundred vibrant animal photographs illustrate the profiles, with facts about the creatures’ sizes, diets, homes, and more. 


My Mom collected these beautiful starfishes for Julia and Adrian, and we placed them inside of the Discovery windows (buy here ), which are great for displaying as well as for preserving something fragile. 

Shells from Thailand

Also, inside our discovery window are tiny shells my Mom collected during her trip to Thailand.


 Moreover, I have set this Ocean Water Beads Sensory Play to explore our ocean animal friends.

WHAT You’ll need for this sensory invitation to play:

  • a waterproof tray
  • water beads
  • toy sea animal figurines (buy a set of 5 here or a set of 4 here)

HOW TO make this Ocean Water-Beads Sensory Play:

To prepare this ocean sensory bin, we are using water beads (buy here) which are nontoxic, biodegradable, and available in three colors: white, aqua, and blue. Once you add water, the dehydrated beads start expanding, and in about 6-8 hours, they are fully expanded!

You can see the size comparison of dehydrated vs fully expanded beads. 

Water beads offer a great tactile experience: smooth, squishy, and cool to the touch, Adrian loved holding and squishing them!

Sperm Whale

 A new addition to our collection: Sperm Whale (buy here) is now Adrian’s favorite!

A sperm whale has set several records. It is the largest toothed whale and has the biggest mouth of all whales. It could potentially swallow a person whole! However, the sperm whale is not dangerous to people because it is only interested in attacking squid, of which it consumes around 1.5 tons a day. Sperm whale’s brain weighs 9.5 kilograms (as heavy as almost two bowling balls) and is thus the heaviest brain of all mammals. Sperm whale navigates through the seas using echolocation. You can hear it whistling, squeaking, and groaning under water from several kilometers away.

Sea turtle (buy here) and Seahorse (buy here).

Sea turtles – green-brownish color, have perfectly adapted to life in the water. Their feet have developed into a shape of paddles and their bodies are more streamlined than those of tortoises, allowing them to move skillfully through the water. Their movements look like they are flying underwater. Except for the time they lay eggs, turtles spend their entire life in tropical and subtropical waters where they hunt for cephalopods, crabs and jellyfish. Did you know that sea turtles, as oppose to land turtles/tortoises, are not able to pull their large head into the shell?

Although seahorses hardly look like a fish, they are indeed fish – from the hippocampus family. Seahorses live in tropical and moderate seas, off the coast of south-east Australia and New Zealand. They use their curled tail to grip seaweed or other seahorses. Seahorses propel themselves very slowly with the help of their transparent dorsal fin. The tiny pectoral fin is for steering. Did you know that it is the male seahorse that hatches the eggs? At birth the fry are literally thrown out of the male’s pouch!


And do take sensory play outdoors! Here, I simply added water beads to a kids pool and offered children their toy sea animal figurines.


Humpback Whale (buy here) always draws Adrian’s attention.

The humpback whale is a charismatic species of large whale that has a truly global distribution, living from Antarctica to the Arctic (except under the sea ice) and from the coast to the open ocean. The humpback whale is one of the largest animals on Earth, growing to lengths of more than 50 feet (16 m) and weights of 40 tons (36 metric tonnes). This incredible size is only possible because of this species’ aquatic lifestyles and the buoyancy provided by seawater. On land, an animal as large as the humpback whale would almost certainly be crushed under its own weight. Although they are enormous, humpback whales are not predatory: they filter feed some of the tiniest fish in the ocean, such as krill, plankton and shrimp, and are totally harmless to people. Humpback whales are known for their magical songs, which travel for great distances through the world’s oceans. Scientists have found that the noises humpback whales make are their way of communicating with each other through song and to appeal to prospective mates.  

Want more?

For details on the books we are reading, see here Ocean Books we are reading.

Also, see here a post – International Polar Bear Day- How we celebrate, where we also used gel water beads during a sensory play.

Lastly, see here Polar Regions Unit Study • Land Water Air, where we explored in details some of our animal friends. 

Adult supervision is required.

Enriching the Mind one Heart at a time

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