Unit 2: Fish Swim in the Ocean

It’s time for my review of our second unit in Gentle + Classical Preschool: Fish Swim in the Ocean. Read on to learn what we did, how we did it, and which resources helped us with our exploration!

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We loved our study of Oceans and Fish so much that we stretched this unit out for almost the full month of June, and we still have materials we didn’t get a chance to cover! Marine life is a big topic afterall.

As our unit study framework, we start with Gentle + Classical Preschool and Gentle + Classical Nature by Erin Cox. It’s a free, faith-based and Charlotte Mason inspired curriculum that emphasizes memorization and character traits through nature exploration, literature, and habit training. You can find out all about it at Life, Abundantly.

Books on Oceans & Fish


The Big Book of the Blue

Lift the Flap Nature: Hidden World Ocean

Nature Anatomy

Resources for Oceans & Fish


There are undoubtedly countless activities available for young learners adventuring into ocean studies for the first time. We did my Rainbow Trout Lifecycle Activity Bundle, one craft project, some sensory play, 3 Part Card matching, and the Fiddlesticks Kids Ocean Learning Pack.

Rainbow Trout Activities

To introduce the kids to fish life cycles, I created a Rainbow Trout Activity Bundle. The bundle features my own watercolor artwork, plus a few activities and facts about this interesting fish.

I don’t know much about fish in general, so researching Rainbow Trout and Steelhead was fascinating! As you probably already know (but I didn’t), Trout are naturally fresh water fish but for reasons scientists don’t fully understand random Trout will undergo physiological changes to adapt to saltwater before migrating to the ocean… hence Steelhead. Mind blown!

My daughter Alyce especially enjoyed this bundle. Her favorite activities were the Math 10-Frame and Count & Clip Cards. Who was surprised? Yeah, English major and decidedly-not-math-minded me!

Click here to check out the Rainbow Trout Activity Bundle in my Shop!

Ocean Layers Painting

For our craft, we painted the ocean zones. We used washable Tempera paint, a large sheet of kraft paper, large kid paint brushes. Following a printable Ocean Layers poster by ChickieandRoo as our guide, I divided the paper into zones with a pencil, then mixed paint in various shades of black, blue, and teal. I gave each kid a cup with paint and uses the Ocean Layers poster to show the kids our goal. First, I modeled painting the top layer, and then each kid eagerly painted their own layers.

This super simple activity was the very first thing we did for this unit. It sparked curiosity and encouraged conversations about the animals who live in the zones and the zone names. My 3yo quickly memorized the names of the zones in order, and it was so fun for her to share her new knowledge with any visitors to our home!

We hung the painting on our main wall display rack, and I added the layer names with a few photos of relative animals from the What Lies Beneath the Ocean Deep Science Unit by Natural Beach Living.

Sensory Play

For our second main activity, we got to break in our new Ikea Flisat-turned-sensory-table! This little table is a great addition to our home, with its removable recessed bins. Perfect for sensory play, this table served us well for our ocean themed small world set ups.

Having said that, I’m not going to lie and say that a 3 year old and a 2 year old can play with bins full of sand, beads, rice, or small toys without making a mess. Or without getting excited and throwing things. Or without getting upset that the way one child wants to play is different than how the other child wants to play.

But perhaps that’s just my crazy kids?? Anyway, we persevered through the issues, and our subsequent attempts were incrementally better.

We made our own colored rice for this activity for the very first time — and that was a blast! I followed this post by Happy Hooligans for directions. Basically, we added rice to a container, then a tiny bit of vinegar and a tiny bit of food coloring. My daughter then put the lid on the container and we took turns shaking (and dancing, because how can you not when making such a fun noise??).

Then, I poured the rice onto cookie sheets and let it dry in the sun for an hour or so. We repeated these steps with various food color combinations to create a spread of blues from bright teal to pale seafoam.

The pretty colors didn’t stay separate for long once added to the sensory bins plus our Safari TOOB sea creatures — but half the fun is mixing everything together, right?

Oceans of the World Felts

My daughter is obsessed with our play felts. She loves taking all the pieces to our various puzzles and playsets to create completely unrelated art scenes or “cakes” — but I’m totally ok with it because that’s the joy of open ended play!

To introduce her to oceans as a geography lesson, I designed an Oceans of the World Felt Pattern. I paired it with the free oceans card printables and map by Imagine Our Life and the Oceans & Continents flashcards by Fiddlesticks Kids.

You can check out the Oceans of the World Felt Pattern in my Shop.

Matching Activity

Speaking of TOOB creatures, I also set up a very simple matching activity for my 2 year old using TOOB fish plus printable 3 Part Cards by Life Abundantly and Welcome to Mommyhood.

I’m not perfect at implementing the Montessori model in our home, but one thing I love about it is the concept of presenting the child with an activity in a way that naturally sparks their curiosity. To this end, I simply set out a pile of 3 Part Cards and a box of fish in the living room.

After nap time, Lewis noticed it immediately and began his own exploration. He’s done this kind of activity before, so pretty quickly he noticed similarities between the cards and the figures and began to “Match! Match fish!”

Ocean Creatures Counting Cards

As part of our Morning Basket, we incorporated the marine life counting flashcards by Habitat Schoolhouse. The kids identified the various creatures, then carefully counted the animals on each card. Then we matched wooden numbers to the cards. Sweet and simple!

Ocean Learning Pack

The Early Years Curriculum Ocean Learning Pack by Fiddlesticks Kids is hands down INCREDIBLE. We had so much fun with this pack and barely had time to explore this huge assortment of activities.

My daughters favorite element? The treasure map, of course!

We also enjoyed the pearl counting, pirate ship phonics, layers of the ocean, and ocean animals flashcards.

We are subscribers to the Early Years Curriculum, which is a beautiful growing bundle of many themed and seasonal learning packs. It’s a big discount to purchase the growing bundle rather than individual learning packs, and each pack contains a rich selection of original and highly creative games, activities, and nature study.

Click here to learn more about the Fiddlesticks Kids Early Years Curriculum.

Field Trip

The timing of this unit coincided perfectly with our family’s mini vacation to the beach. Am I genius, or am I genius?? No, it was a complete coincidence, lol.

We visited the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. It was a fantastic opportunity for the kids to see some ocean animals up close and in person! They were especially in awe of the jelly fish and the sharks.

We also got in some great beach time splashing in the waves and rolling in the sand. Why yes, it was a stellar 65 degrees out and the water was so cold I was reminded of the Titanic… but for an Oregon coast vacation we had a shocking amount of sun and beautifully sea-breezy days!

What’s Next

Unit 3 Birds Lay Eggs — Follow me on Instagram to see our progress! Plus check out our mini unit on the Strawberry Moon.

Welcome to Green Urban Mama! I’m Lydia, a stay at home mom with masters degree in TESOL, a history of dancing classical ballet, and a passion for raising my three-3-and-under in an earth friendly, arts saturated, faith focused, and education filled home.

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