Children will learn all about the ocean in a hands-on way with this ocean zones and animals activity.
It is so fascinating to learn about ocean creatures. Did you know that there are so many ocean creatures that many of them are not even named? Most of those mysterious creatures live in the dark and cold parts of the ocean. The ocean has so many amazing animals and plants, but the majority of them live near the surface of the water. This is where sunlight reaches and where the water is warm. We made this hands-on science activity to learn all about ocean life and to help remember which zones the animals lived in.
Ocean Zones and Animals Activity
First, we drew the ocean zones to map out where the ocean creatures lived.
We made layers of “ocean water” in this vase.
Each day of the week we focused on a specific ocean zone until we had talked about all of them: sunlight zone, twilight zone, midnight zone, the abyss, and the trench.
It was our goal to make a way for the creatures to “float” in their proper zone so that we could truly see where they were in the ocean.
Here’s how we made our ocean zones and animals activity –
We grabbed gelatin at the grocery store. I used a packet for each layer. I just followed the directions on the box. You could substitute Jell-o for gelatin.
Toob ocean creatures are sturdy animal figurines that worked perfectly for this. You can find them on Amazon, at school supply stores, or craft stores. They also have a deep sea set of animals, which would go great with this activity as well.
Any type of clear container would do. I chose a vase because I knew it would be easy to get everything out with the big opening on top once we were all finished.
Liquid watercolor is something you can get at Amazon, craft stores, or school supply stores. We used the colors black and blue.
Mix your gelatin according to the instructions on the packaging for each layer. Make sure to add liquid watercolor immediately after mixing the gelatin. You will have to allow the layers to solidify in the refrigerator one at a time, and it takes a few hours for the layers to form.
We did four of the five ocean layers, starting with the abyss.
To make the abyss, mix black liquid watercolor into the gelatin. We didn’t add any creatures to this zone, but we talked some about the rare and mysterious creatures that live there.
Next, make gelatin in dark blue for the midnight zone. We put about 2 Tbs of blue liquid watercolor into this layer. Now find any ocean creatures that live in it and add them to your mixture or on top of the bottom layer. Creatures that live in the midnight zone are angler fish, sperm whale, and eels.
Then pour it in on top of your black ocean zone. Allow it to chill and solidify.
For the twilight zone, I used only 1 Tbs of blue liquid watercolor. Then we grabbed even more ocean creatures for this layer. Crabs, squid, lobsters, krill, and more are in this layer.
Just as before, pour it on top of the previous layer and put it in the refrigerator.
Lastly, grab all the remaining sea creatures for the sunlight zone. This is the most exciting one since there are so many sea creatures here: dolphins, whales, sharks, turtles, and more. Just as the name hints, this is where the sun shines through.
Once we were all finished, we turned it into a fun squishy, sensory activity, and I let the children take all of the sea creatures out.
This ocean zones and animals activity was such an engaging science activity and a great visual for all types of young learners. Your kids are sure to love it too!
For more Ocean or water animal themed fun, grab our fish count and clip cards. Then, for more fun with experiments, try our beginning sounds fizzing ice activity!
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