Tot School Ocean Unit: Crafts, Books and Songs

Last week, I shared some activities the girls and I did for their “tot school” Ocean Unit (see activities HERE).
As part of our unit, we also attempted some ocean-themed crafts (and by “attempted,” I mean I ended up finishing their projects when they got bored). Thanks again, family, friends and Pinterest for some wonderful ideas on incorporating crafts, books and songs into our unit. 
The following should strike fear into the heart of any mom of toddler(s)…

Painting! With black paint! What could go wrong? 
This activity requires a high tolerance for mess and a “meh” attitude about the condition of your furniture. Fortunately, the paint was washable and came right out of their clothes/my chairs/their hands/hair/lips.
The concept was simple: paint the top half of the paper plate black, glue on some eyes and a mouth cut out of construction paper, paint some popsicle sticks and glue them on the plate for the fins and tail. Actual execution was not as precise. 
Oh Mommy! Remember when we made that handprint card for Daddy? I want to do it again!
Now we know what Samantha would like like as a goth. 
All cleaned up and admiring our cute killer whale. 
Unfortunately, our orca friends only lived for a few seconds as the girls promptly ripped off the popsicle sticks and started batting them around like swords. 
Our next craft was simpler and less messy. 
I cut some sea creatures out of sticky-backed felt for the girls and showed them how to stick them up on our sliding glass door. The girls had a blast ripping them off and sticking them back on again. 
As they stuck on or pulled off a sea creature, we’d name it together. 
Easy and not very messy. Just wipe down the windows with some glass cleaner after the activity to remove the adhesive.
Otter Pop break. 
The sticky creatures were a hit, so we played with them the next day too, this time from the inside. 
Poor Bandit! The girls quickly figured out his fur made the perfect stickable surface.

One of the books we read several times over the week was the classic, The Rainbow Fish. While it’s a cute story, I’m not completely sold on its theme– be peer pressured into giving away your most prized possessions in order to make friends; otherwise you’ll be a selfish loner? Just seems wrong to me.

This bothered me so much, I decided to google it and came across this awesome website, Teaching Children Philosophy. In an article on The Rainbow Fish, (read HERE) S and A were excited to find an entire treatise on the utilitarian underpinnings of the story, as well as discussion questions, including:
Is being unique more important than being liked? 

Is the octopus right in saying having friends is more important than being beautiful?

Are they true friends if one of the main reasons they like Rainbow Fish is because he gave them something pretty? 

The girls and I had some DEEP philosophical discussions and ultimately concluded that the story’s theme isn’t about whether or not having friends trumps having possessions, but rather why we, as human beings, feel the need to belong to a greater “whole,” and to what extent we will go to achieve “oneness” with the group. Blew. My. Mind.

Anyway, once we had fully philosophized the story, we made a “rainbow fish” of our own using some vase filler and an old CD. 

Any project involving glue sticks is too intense for me to handle on my own (learned that the hard way), so we waited for Jake to get home before starting this craft. 
Note the bandaid on Samantha’s cheek–that’s the one that created all the hives on her face last week. Once she saw Samantha had a bandaid, Amelia cried until she got one too. She didn’t have as bad of a reaction, although the bandaid did cause a little redness on her face. 
The girls’ favorite part was holding their glue sticks. 
Nice job, Mommy Amelia!
While we had the glue sticks out, we took turns identifying some clip art sea creatures and gluing them to their “ocean.” 
Not sure why I had these sea creatures in my craft supplies–I think they were leftover from my teaching days. I was notorious for going into Lakeshore Learning just to “browse” and would end up coming out with a million random bulletin board borders, clip art and random craft items I didn’t need.
Hi, Mr. Octopus!
“Oooooh!” goes the dolphin. 
We also did lots of coloring throughout the week. 
The girls love the idea of coloring. Whenever I got out the box of crayons and markers, they’d act excited. In actual practice, however, they’d take a few swings with the crayon…and then decide ripping the paper or climbing on the table was way more fun. 
We invited the girls’ friend, Maliyah, over one day while we were coloring and I watched in awe as Maliyah sat at the table and colored, quietly, and with minimal intervention for a solid ten minutes. Wow! Maybe in another life!
As part of our Ocean Unit, we also included some ocean-themed story times and singing times. 
I’m sure there are tons of other ocean-related books out there (One Fish, Two Fish; Fish Eyes just off the top of my head), but these are the ones I already had at the house. 
What better throwback to my childhood in the late 80s/early 90s than Raffi? “Baby Beluga” has to be one of my favorite baby songs of all time. The girls loved singing the song with me as they turned the pages and we took turns inserting “Baaaaaa-by Sa-maaaaaa-ntha” and “Baaaaaaa-by A-meeeeeeeeelia” instead of “Baby Beluga” during the song. Miss you, Raffi!
I also love Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle because it’s all about the Daddy seahorses taking care of the baby seahorses. It’s never too early to start teaching about equal partnerships in parenting!
Our favorite songs for our Ocean Unit included: 
“Baby Beluga” by Raffi
“Octopus’s Garden” by the Beatles
“My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”
“One Two Three, Four, Five; Once I Caught a Fish Alive”
“Five Little Fishies in the Sea”
“Did You Ever See a Fishy?” sung to the tune of “Did You Ever See a Lassie?”
“Under the Sea” Little Mermaid
“Row your Boat”
We had fun with our ocean theme and the girls added some new vocabulary to their repertoire to boot! 
This week, we have moved on to learning about farm animals, and the girls have been making even bigger messes than they did with our ocean crafts. Keeping busy in 100 degree weather > a clean house.
Happy learning!
Lots of love, 

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