10 Activities to Celebrate World Ocean Day in the classroom

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World Ocean Day is on the 8th June! And like Earth Day, it is an opportunity to engage and discuss this important topic with kids of all ages. Here are 10 Activities to Celebrate World Ocean Day in the classroom. Some fun and meaningful Educational Resources for Teachers. Though of course these can also be done at home.

10 World Ocean Day Activities and Ideas

As mentioned, we are focusing on 10 activities for you to plan and quickly add to any lesson plans in the classroom. Many of these are relatively last minute activities you can do and plan.

Organise a Beach Cleanup (if you live by the sea)

This of course is an easy way to immediately help our oceans. A beach clean up is always a good thing to do and a great way to get involved.

If you don’t live by the sea, you can of course also do a litter pick locally – why not focus on local rivers and steams.

NOTE: beach litter picking is often relatively “clean trash” – as human rubbish has been tossed about by the ocean and cleaner. You can consider, carefully (!), keeping these items. Take them back to the classroom for an additional wash… and then use them later in the recycled art projects mentioned below. Ensure students always focus on hygiene first!

NOTE 2: Sea Glass is a particularly great thing to hunt for – it is technically rubbish (afterall it is man made) but wonderful for creating art work with!

NOTE 3: A local cleanup or litter picking activity is ALWAYS a good thing to do, so if you don’t live by the ocean, you can still engage your students. Even if you are litter picking in the school yard. You can then discuss and analyse the single use plastics they found!

Have a “No Plastic Workshops” (if you don’t live by the sea)

It is now common knowledge, that even if you don’t live by the sea, a lot of the plastics we use end up in the sea as micro plastics and that ocean plastic pollution really is a problem, no matter where you live. Single-use plastics in our every day life are the real culprits here. There are lots of ways you can work with students looking at different types of micro plastics that get into the oceans and how we can reduce our impact..

For example:

  • Reduce the need for plastic carrier bags – get students to make their own fabric bags using recycled materials (Sew a Tote Bag from Old Umbrellas or a Tote Bag from Shirts)
  • Micro plastics in Shampoo and Face washes – get students to look into the products they use at home and whether or not they cointain micro plastics (that are often added to help exfoliate). Discuss trying out Shampoo Bars or Shampoo Powders instead.
  • Have a simple Plastic or Not Quiz – here is an easy download from Kids Against Plastics – this is a great way to start a discussion about plastics.
  • List and discuss other single-use plastics and talke about how you can reduce your use of these. E.g. you don’t need to replace straws with paper staws.. simply don’t use them! (Unless of course there is a medical need for these – then go for paper or metal straws etc)

Create Art Projects using Recycled Materials/ Beach Finds

The Bruge Whale made from rubbish 2018

You can bring in recycled materials from the home.. but if you organised a beach clean up first.. why not use some of your beach finds? You can show students “recycled” art work like The Bruge Whale and use this as inspiration. Learn more about this amazing art installation here. There are many such projects out there… from small to large ones like this! Sea creatures are always a wonderful theme to explore and recreate. Bottle tops make a fantastic art medium as they often come in lots of different colours. That said, they are also a plastic pollution problem and it is important to talk to students about reducing our waste (first and foremost) and secondly recylcing it properly.

Create temporary Art Projects with Nature Finds

Leave only footprints. Take only photos/ take only memories.

Goes the the saying.. or something like that. Why not explore some nature art projects – that focus on NOT damaging the environment (e.g. don’t pick any plants or leaves) and also leaving your art behind. This particularly pertinent for beach art.. yes enjoy those shells and rocks.. but don’t take them home! Any marine life will make a good theme for your nature art project, but patterns and mandalas are always gorgeous too!

If you found some sea glass, I would encourage you to take it home! As technically this is human waste and yet it is lovely to work with in art projects!

Make some Ocean Animal Inspired Crafts

Of course, you can simply have a lovely “crafternoon” making ocean inspired crafts! This would involve Fish Crafts, Turtle Crafts, Whales, Jellyfish and sharks.. anything relating to the under the sea that you can think of! And being a craft website for kids, I of course have many crafts that would fit under that ocean theme. So as to not to overwhelm you, here are some ideas. Some come with printable lesson plans, others would be ideal for selling at a school fundraisers.

Paper Whale Craft

Easy Origami Whale – orgami is always a fantastic educational resource, as it promotes maths skills (symmetry/ angles), hand eye co-ordination/ fine motor skills (lining edges and creases) as well as reading/ following instructions skills.

  • lesson plans available
  • add to the front of greeting cards and use as a fund raiser

We love making turtles, especially this Turtle Bookmark Corner – one of a few ocean themed bookmarks, we also have a Dolphin Bookmark and a Whale Bookmark. All of these would be fantastic as part of a:

  • Fund raising event at school (make and sell or have a craft table that students pay a small fee to participate in)

The bookmarks are also fantastic as they are a basic origami project that hones in on some basic maths skills and fine motor skills.

sea glass turtle

I especially love this sea glass turtle craft! As it is very easy to do, means beach combing for sea glass (and do litter pit whilst you are it) and then uses natural materials – flower and salt for the “clay”. Such a lovely activity. If you can’t get to any sea glass why not use some small gravel from the garden centre? Avoid using shells if you can (I have used these in the past, but do regret it now!).

Write Love Letters to the Sea (and send them to your local government)

Combine art, writing skills and persuasion skills with a Love Letter to the Sea. This is a simply amazing resource – complete will lesson plan outlines and additional resources to help you get your students really thinking about the oceans, getting arty and finally taking a step further and sending their work to local government – a simple way to add your voice to wider petitions. A simple “must” for any World Ocean Day activities. These could be combined with some of the crafts shared above (e.g. add a paper whale to your letter etc).

Visit local museums or aquariums and see if they are hosting World Oceans Day Events

It is worth checking your local museums or aquariums to see if they are hosting any World Oceans Day Events. But even if they aren’t a visit to under the sea themed exhibits is always a great way to engage students and start discussions about healthier oceans and what we can do to help ocean conservancy!

Play Sharks and Minnows (Pre-K / K)

This is a quick and easy activity if you are working with younger children and need to quickly burn off some energy before settling down to learning about World Ocean Day! The game is ideal for Pre-K/ K. There are slight variations to this game but in essence:

  1. First, you will have to pick two sharks (you may want to pick one “lead” shark for the sayings). The rest will all be minnows.
  2. The sharks will stand in the middle of the room/ playground with all the minnows to one side of the shark. Ideally there is a boundry line to cross – but it can be the wall on the other side of the play area. The sharks will say “Fishy, Fishy, Come out and Play”.
  3. Now the minnows have to walk slowly towards the shark.
  4. Now the shark gets to shout “Shark Attack!”.
  5. The minnows must now run across the boundary line to the other side of the room or playground without being caught. If you get caught, you turn into a shark and add to the chase. Alternatively, the minnows stand still and wait for another minnow to free them.
  6. Continue until only two minnows is left. These will be the new sharks!

I hope this gives you lots of ideas to celebrate this year’s world ocean day with your kids or students! As with many of the climate change topics, it is important to simply start the conversation with new generation and getting them to discuss these issues.

Here are some more eco friendly activities, we created for Earth Day:

Simple Earth Day