Are you looking for a way to incorporate art into your ocean activities at school or home? Play dough is a wonderful option to encourage creative, independent play while also reinforcing fine motor skills.

With a few props, a tray, and color-specific play dough, my toddler stayed busy for quite a while creating different ocean scenes. Let’s be honest, I created a few too. 😄

I only needed a few things before we were busy constructing our under the sea artwork (note, my suggestions may include affiliate links).

Materials Needed

  • I always have play dough on hand, and I’ve found that these bulk packs work with everything!
  • Ocean-themed toys like seashells, blue marbles, and ocean animals.
    • note, I found seashells at Dollar Tree, but after searching Walmart and Dollar Tree, Amazon was where I found the best ocean animal toys.
  • Trays (I found the best trays at Dollar Tree! They’re divided and perfect for organizing the materials with a space to create on.)

How to Play

I grabbed one blue dough and one tan/light orange dough to create the water and sand. In addition, I grabbed a handful of marbles, ocean animals, and seashells.

I placed the dough in one compartment of the tray and marbles, seashells, and ocean animals in the others. I left the largest compartment of the tray open for the creating space.

We flattened out some blue and tan dough and layered them to create the ocean scene. I modeled by placing animals in the “water” and shells in the “sand”. My daughter took an animal and had it move across the water. Then, she realized she could stick the shells in the dough and make prints. This is why using dough for art is great because children lead the way and learn how to express themselves.

Skills Practiced

  • Language
    • As we played, we named the animals that we put into our ocean and sand.
  • Science
    • We discussed which animals swam in the water and which crawled in the sand. We also used our ocean books to make connections about animals from the sea.
  • Fine Motor
    • Using play dough tools to roll and cut the dough is great for young children strengthening the muscles in their hands and fingers. Placing the toys and shells onto the ocean scene takes concentration and fine motor control to place it in the intended area in the correct position.

There’s no doubt that we’ll be creating more ocean scenes using this same activity.

If you’re lacking time, patience, or motivation, you can change up this activity by getting some dough and ocean animal cookie cutters! Children can decorate using pipe cleaners, marbles, shells, and beads!

Looking for easy, engaging, and free ocean-themed math activities? Check out my feed the ocean animals activity here!

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