Under the Sea or Ocean is one of the most popular themes for summer school. It’s also great for Sunday School or VBS, and it makes a good start to the school year, especially for those of us who go back to school in the hot weather.
There are lots of ready-made classroom decoratives for this theme. It is also easy to jazz up the look of your room with fishing nets, seashells, and other oceanic objects. A strip of sand paper at the bottom of the bulletin board, a strip of blue plastic wrap (from your grocery store) overlapping it and leading into the blue paper on the top of the board, and you have a very intriguing ocean to put fish cutouts into.
Then you can “Dive into” or be “Hooked on” your chosen subject. Declaring your class “a great catch” or a “school of smart fish” is also popular. You can have “A Whale of a Year” or “A Whale of a Class.” If you include ships as well as denizens of the deep, you can also go “Sailing into” your grade or subject, welcome the kids with “Ahoy, Mates!” and board the “S.S. Scholarship ” or whatever your name or mascot might be.
- Fadeless Under Sea Bulletin Board Paper is 48″ wide, and covers your bulletin board with oceany goodness in a snap. Use it as a background for any under sea bulletin board pieces.
- Under the Sea from Trend has fun cartoon sea creatures and a treasure chest.
- Sea Adventure Bulletin Board has ocean animals on a sailing ship — works for pirate themes, too.
- Ocean Plants & Animals Mini Bulletin Board has realistic sea animals.
- Under the Sea Bulletin Board Set from Carson Delossa has an updated cartoon look.
Get in the mood with these links:
- Ocean Art has a variety of ocean-themed art projects, simple and complex.
- First School has a simple beach counting activity for preschool.
- Make and play a shark-themed card game.
- Start off with a printable word search.
- Our Shark Lesson Plans introduce one of the most fascinating denizens of the deep.
- A site full of sea shanties adds a dimension to ocean themes in music or social studies class.
- If you’re sailing rather than swimming, Roger Halsham has a fun “reading scheme” — a way to keep track of the kids’ reading, with a clipper ship theme. Even if you don’t want to do the whole thing, I bet students will get a kick out of the “ship’s log” reading records.
On the first day of your theme, get acquainted with some active games:
- Play the old game “Flip the Fish.” Have each student cut a big fish from paper and decorate it. Line the fish up on the floor and give each student a sheet of newspaper to fan the fish with. Really exuberant fanning will get the fish flipping along to the finish line. This game is very fun to watch, too, so you can do it in teams if space is tight.
- Play “Shark,” a variation on a game from Ghana. Have one student be the shark and the others make a circle of fish around him or her. Anyone the shark touches also becomes a shark. The sharks hold hands and try to touch the fish, while the fish try to avoid being touched.
- “Octopus” is a variation on “Red Rover” from Eldrbarry. Have students line up in two lines across from one another with a space in the middle. Put one student in the middle to be the octopus. The octopus calls out “Fish! Fish! Come [hop, crawl, or other form of locomotion] in my ocean!” The other students must try to cross the “ocean” only by moving in the specified manner. The octopus, moving in the same way, tries to catch them. All who are caught become part of the octopus, holding hands so that the octopus has plenty of tentacles.
Cool stuff for the classroom:
- IMAX: Under the Sea has lots of images and information. You can find suitable clips for all grade levels.
- Ravensburger Under the Sea – 60 Piece Puzzle is just one of the multitude of great puzzles for this theme. If you use puzzles in the classroom, this is the time to do it. The high level of availability of great puzzles is a sharp contrast to themes like, say, weather.
- Under the Sea Stacking Cups are traditional stacking cups with an undersea flavor, but they’re also designed for use in your sand or water table.
- Moon Sand Adventure Island uses Moon Sand rather than regular sand. I love Moon Sand, myself. It packs better than beach sand, is latex and gluten free for kids with allergies, and you can disinfect it. Vacuums up easily, too. The Adventure Island set has molds for creating a tropical island with animals. Moon Sand Treasure Kingdom has molds for building wonderful sand castles. If you need refills, choose Delta Moon Sand — it was designed for therapeutic use and is the best for quality and value.
- The See Me Silly shark mirror is unbreakable.
- Learning Resources Inflatable Ocean Life Set is a set of highly realistic giant inflatables.
- Silk Under Sea Canopy by Sarah’s Silks is that super extra touch — a play canopy for your dramatic play corner. It also creates a quiet space for reading.
- Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! Under The Sea Set is a building set that uses interlocking gears to create constructs that move when you turn a crank. The youngest kids tile the gears and make them spin, while older kids build three dimensional things.
- A beautiful seashell coloring page from Jan Brett.
- Versatile fish games to make with fish notepads.
- Our Tropical Paradise Theme page has lots of beachy ideas and links.
- The Whale and the Sandpiper is a folk tale from the Marshall Islands.
- Ocean Animal Printouts from Enchanted Learning.
- Simple printable worksheets to have on hand.
More video resources:
- Octodogs make a great snack for your classroom.