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Summertime Fun! Beach-themed Books & Activities for Preschoolers

Jun 26, 2024    |   Children’s BooksSummer

Summer is a season for fun outdoors, especially when that fun includes refreshing water and cool coastal breezes. From the sounds of waves, water-birds and frogs, to the crumbly texture of sand and the joy of wading in water, beaches and lakesides are full of opportunities for learning through sensory investigation. We can tap into children’s fascination with the world of oceans, lakes, and ponds by bringing beach-themed activities and children’s books into our early learning classroom. Below are a few examples that will invite discovery, investigation, and learning.

Beach-themed Activities for Preschoolers

Ocean Wave Sensory Bottles

Through this simple activity, children can create and enjoy their own ocean world, waves and all! You’ll need just a few items: clear water bottles, water, a funnel, blue food coloring, baby oil (or a clear cooking oil), and small decorative items (sequins, pom-poms, glitter, tiny fish). First, place a funnel above each child’s water bottle and invite them to pour water through the funnel into their water bottle until it is about 2/3 full. Then, add a few drops of food coloring and baby oil, leaving room to add in some decorative items. Encourage the children to use their creativity and imagination to add ocean-themed decorations to the bottles. Once complete, close up the bottles, seal them tightly and show the children how they can shake their sensory bottles to watch the waves in the ocean they created flow.

Shell Playdough Impressions 

This activity requires only two materials: playdough and real shells. (If you don’t have shells, you can purchase them in craft stores or online.) Offer the activity to the children in your care by placing the shells and playdough on trays and inviting them to make impressions of the shells. As the children press the shells, talk with them about the different lines and shapes that each shell makes. Compare sizes of the various shells and explore the patterns that they leave in the playdough. 

Beach Ball Stamp Process Painting 

This process art activity invites children to create with a very unique item: a beach ball! All you will need are the following materials: mini beach balls, construction paper, paper plates, and tempera paint (any colors will do). Start by squirting a different color of paint onto each paper plate and then invite children to roll the beach balls into the plates to get paint on them. Finally, encourage the children to paint with the beach ball by stamping color from the beach ball onto construction paper or by rolling the paint-covered ball onto their construction paper. Painting with the beach balls offers children a new and unusual way to create art!

Children’s Books About Lakes, Ponds, and Beaches

The children’s books below explore beaches on the coast, lakes, ponds, and rivers! Each of these stories can help to facilitate engaging and meaningful conversations with the children in your care about all of the different ways to enjoy and explore the unique natural worlds in and around water. 

Who’s Hiding at the Beach?

In this interactive lift-the-flap book, written and illustrated by Katharine McEwen, little ones can explore under rocks, shells, and seaweed to find out lots of interesting facts about animals that live at the beach.   

Where the Ocean Meets the Sand

Written by Beth Costanzo and illustrated by Ekaterina Illina, this book’s simple text and vibrant illustrations introduce children to the unique habitats and variety of animals living at the beach.

Over and Under the Pond

This popular story, written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, takes young learners on a journey into the ecosystem of a mountain pond. The book follows the story of a boy and his mother who experience the plants and animals that live in the pond, from minnows darting to beavers diving.

The Lake I Love

This story, written by Edward M. Shankman and illustrated by Dave O’Neill, follows a young family who spends summers at the lakeside surrounded by nature. The book describes the variety of animals, from fish to fireflies, that call the lake home.

The Sea Below My Toes

This book, written by Charlotte Guillain and illustrated by Jo Empson, takes readers on an underwater adventure to explore the ocean’s plant and animal life. Young readers will travel through the waves and into the deep ocean waters, exploring everything from the sea otters beneath the surface to the lantern fish in the very bottom of the sea.

Explore Freshwater Habitats with Gabrielle

This children’s book from Sesame Street explores rivers, creeks, ponds, swamps, and lakes. Young children will enjoy following along with popular Sesame Street characters as they discover the plants and animals found in freshwater habitats.

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