Need a fun Preschool Ocean Activity? Check out this Easy Ocean Sensory Bin!

This simple water sensory play idea is perfect for little ones learning about ocean creatures. It encourages imaginative play and creativity, while helping children develop their fine motor skills in a fun way!

My kids loved this ocean sensory play idea. They had so much fun with all the different textures and ways to play.

ocean sensory bin - tongs grabbing a fish, child playing with sea life, sensory bin with water and sea creatures

If you are new to sensory bins you might like to know….

What is a Sensory Bin?

A Sensory Bin is a box or container with items that spark imaginative play and stimulate the senses.

Most sensory kits have a theme such as Ocean, Farm, Construction, or a holiday, etc. Or you can create one based on your child’s interests like Unicorns, Dinosaurs, or Fairies.

Sensory bins have a base filler for kids to scoop or pour. You could use beans, dry corn, play sand, water, uncooked pasta or rice. The possibilities are endless!

You can find more ideas for creating easy sensory bins for your child here.

Ocean sensory bin - sensory tub filled with plastic sea animals, measuring cups, tongs, rocks, pompoms and gems

Benefits of Sensory Play

According to Good Start Learning, some of the benefits of sensory play are:

  • Sensory play builds connections in the brain.
  • It encourages fine motor skills development and language development.
  • It helps kids develop problem solving skills.
  • Sensory play helps kids destress and regulate.

There’s so many good reasons to do sensory activities. And if you haven’t noticed yet….sensory play is tons of fun too!

I find that sensory experiences provide hours of imaginative play for my kids. Which is always a HUGE win!

ocean sensory play idea - container filled with water, sea creatures, pom poms, gems, rocks, and more!

Supplies to make an Ocean Sensory Bin

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You will need the following items to make this Ocean sensory bin:

child playing with ocean sensory bin

How to make an Easy Ocean Sensory Bin

Let’s get starting making our Ocean sensory bin!

First, place your sensory bin on a couple of towels or better yet – outside! Things are likely to get a bit wet!

Fill the sensory bin with about an inch or two of water.

This will hopefully prevent things like the floor or your child from getting soaking wet.

Because of the simple equation: More water = more wet.

But I have to say, some kids can get soaked with a small glass of water. You’ve been warned! LOL

Next add some rocks. I collected a few rocks from our driveway and rinsed them off. It’s fun to use rocks with different textures to add to the sensory experience.

Then, I added a few pom poms. I decided to use blue and green for this ocean life sensory play activity.

a simple ocean sensory bin - water with a lobster, starfish, pom poms and toy sharks

I also decided to add some fun gem stones that we had on hand. It’s always a good idea to add different textures to add to the fun of this sensory activity.

To add a little “sea plant life” – I added some leaves from fake flowers. I like to buy ours from the dollar store and snip the leaves off to use in various sensory bins.

Next, I added some plastic ocean animals that we had on hand. We had a sting ray, a turtle, a dolphin, a shark, an octopus, a lobster, and a tropical blue fish.

child scooping water in the ocean sensory play idea

Last, we added some plastic measuring cups we use and reuse for sensory play along with a set of kid tongs for picking up items.

Kid tongs are a great investment because regular kitchen tongs can pinch a child’s skin between the spring mechanism. (We know this from experience!)

using tongs to pick up a pom pom in an ocean sensory bin

My young children enjoyed squishing the wet pom poms, collecting the jewels, and scooping water.

My daughter told me her favorite part was pretending the shark was eating things.

I think the key to an engaging sensory bin is to have items for imaginative play, along with items for scooping.

My kids enjoyed this bin for several days. YAY!

child playing in an ocean themed sensory bin - using tongs to pick up sea animals

Add to the Fun

This Ocean themed sensory bin is definitely one of our favorite sensory bins.  I love that we can easily change it up to make it a little different. 

You could use different sensory bin fillers such as blue rice to represent blue water.  (Learn how to dye rice here!)

If you want to create a sandy beach scene you might like to put blue rice alongside kinetic sand.

Blue kinetic sand might be fun as well for the sea animals to dive into! 

If you are feeling adventurous, you might like to use Jell-O or Cool whip for some Sea life messy play.

You could also add a variety of sensory tools like different scoops, a sand sifter, sand molds, if you decide to use sand.

Adding a child’s favorite characters to a sensory bin is always a great idea too!

There’s so many ways to create a fun ocean sensory bin that kids of all ages will enjoy!

I hope you have found some fun ideas to create a fun ocean sensory tub.  

Hands on activities like this preschool sensory bin are a great way to keep kids busy (and learning!) on a hot summer day….or of course, when we need something new on a rainy day.

Ocean sensory bin containing pom poms, cups, sea animals, shells and more.

More Sensory Activities for Kids

Looking for more sensory play ideas?  Here’s some great sensory table ideas that will  inspire creativity and imaginative play!

My kids love this Car Wash Sensory bin!  it’s another sensory play idea with a water base filler. It’s so easy – you won’t believe how quickly you can put this idea together!

Does your child love farm animals?  There’s a fun Farm Sensory Bin here that’s perfect for teaching little ones all about life on the farm.

This Space Sensory Bin is always a hit as well.  It’s a great addition to you space unit. 

Plus don’t miss my personal favorite – This Pie Sensory Bin is SO adorable and kids LOVE it!

More Ocean Activities for Kids

Planning a Kindergarten or Preschool Ocean Unit?

Here’s some fun hands-on activities that are perfect for your Ocean theme.  

You can find an Easy Jellyfish Craft here.  Kids color the free printable jellyfish and then add colorful yarn tentacles.

There’s a free printable Octopus Craft here.  Young children can practice their cutting skills with this simple craft that makes a great windsock.

Plus, you can find tons of Ocean Crafts for children here. You’ll find lots of sea creatures including turtles, sharks, tropical fish, jellyfish, sea horses and more!

Want to save this simple ocean sensory bin idea for later? Pin the image below to your Ocean preschool activities board on Pinterest.

Ocean sensory bin - tub of water with gems, pom poms, cups, plastic sea animals, shells, rocks, and more.