Dive right in!
Children love the ocean! It has many of their favorite things – sand to dig and build, water to splash and cool off, and plenty of fascinating creatures to explore. Bring the seashore to your classroom with these outstanding ocean books!
Ocean Books about the Beach
Beach Day: Clifford’s Puppy Days by Quinlan B. Lee
Emily Elizabeth is taking a puppy-sized Clifford on a new adventure! A sweet and simple book with a favorite character that captivates students while introducing them to all of the fun ways to play at the beach.
Extending the learning: Make sandcastles using kinetic sand in the sensory table!
Beach by Elisha Cooper
This story starts with a peaceful beach, early in the morning as the sun rises. Soon, the beach begins to see some visitors. People arrive and put out their towels, play in the surf, and build castles in the sand as the seagulls fly overhead. Each page is a story in itself, and with the gorgeous watercolor art and poetic text, it quickly becomes one of the favorite ocean books in the classroom.
Extending the learning: Mix up a batch of homemade playdough in a tan color. Add a little sand for extra texture, and put seashells out so students can enjoy a little beachy feel under their fingers.
A Beach Tail by Karen P. Williams
When Gregory draws a lion in the sand, his father suggests that it needs a tail and a name. His father reminds him to stay out of the water and stick close to “Sandy,” his lion drawing. Gregory wanders down the beach, drawing a very long tail on his lion, and finds himself lost at the jetty! He turns around and has lost sight of Dad, but fortunately, he is clever enough to follow the tail back past his landmarks, until he finds his father sitting under the umbrella. The illustrator does an amazing job making the beach and ocean look as large as it surely must feel to a small child.
Extending the learning: Gregory uses the sand to draw. Use sand trays to practice writing letters or numbers at centers.
Ocean Books about Animals
Chomp by Melissa Mattox
Chomp the Shark is new at school. He’s nervous, and he doesn’t think the other students want to play with him. He gives them his best smile, but it fails to work. Thankfully, it all turns out to be a whale-sized misunderstanding. This excellent book helps remind students that it is best not to judge by appearances and that it is ok to be different.
Extending the learning: Chomp tries to win his fellow students over with his winning smile. Discuss with students other ways they can show that they are friendly, or how they could welcome a new student.
Humphrey the Lost Whale: A True Story by Wendy Tokuda & Richard Hall
This true story is a bit on the longer side, but children will be captivated by the plight of Humprey the Humpback Whale, who wandered into the San Francisco Bay and got lost for 26 days. This book discusses the gentle giant and how he could eventually find his way out of the bay and back on track.
Extending the Learning: Do a scavenger hunt for things that have the same ending sound as “whale” and “tail.”
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Swimmy is a little fish in a big ocean. He uses his leadership skills to help his school of tiny fish work together to solve a very hungry problem! The artwork in this classic Caldecott Honor-winning book is gorgeous and captivating.
Extending the Learning: Make some beautiful ocean process art, complete with little fish!
The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
This classic story is about a small but beautiful fish who boasts about his shiny scales. His friends ask if he will share them, but he refuses to even interact with them. After a while, the other fish go away, and Rainbow Fish is left sad and lonely. A wise old octopus counsels him to share his beauty. So Rainbow Fish goes back to the others and shares his shimmering rainbow scales so that all the fish can be beautiful.
Extending the Learning: Discuss sharing and being a good friend. Need some ideas? Check out these books on being kind.
A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
Hermit Crab has outgrown his first shell, and, as hermit crabs do, he must look for a new one. Rightfully a little uneasy with the change, the crab plucks up his courage and finds a shell that’s big enough for him – however, he is sad that it’s very bare. Hermit Crab travels the ocean floor as time passes, finding different objects and sea creatures to decorate his shell. This extraordinary book introduces the concepts of the different months of the year, as well as many sea creatures.
Extending the Learning: Hermit crab is redecorating. Students can design their own shell or environment. What would they add?
Mr. Seahorse by Eric Carle
With engaging illustrations and exciting acetate “see-through” pages, preschoolers are entranced with Eric Carle’s story about a seahorse on the brink of fatherhood. Mr. Seahorse also explores the ocean and meets some other underwater fathers caring for their babies. This book is especially lovely as it shows how good dads can take care of children as well!
Extending the Learning: Eric Carle has a very unusual way of illustrating his books – he paints on thin paper and then cuts the shapes out that he needs to make his pictures. Explore this with students! After looking at some examples of Eric Carle’s art, encourage students to paint large pieces of paper using brushes, fingers, or even objects. After the paint dries, give the students scissors and put all the papers on the table to share and create their own collage artwork.
One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies
Teaching students about endangered species is crucial to fostering a sense of respect for the planet. This story follows the life of a tiny loggerhead sea turtle as she hatches, travels through the ocean, and goes on a thirty-year journey. Finally, she ends back at the place where it began, to lay her eggs and continue the story.
Extending the Learning: Students can tear strips of yellow, brown, and green tissue paper and glue it to a paper circle or paper plate to create a shell. Add a green or brown head, four legs, and a tail to make a gorgeous turtle of their own.
Octopus Escapes Again! by Laurie Ellen Angus
Travel along with an octopus as she leaves the safety of her den to search for food. Will she eat? Or will she be eaten? Preschool students become enraptured as they listen to how she escapes from predators, again and again, using her unique skills. This book also comes with supplemental information all about these tentacled animals, as well as on the other animals in the book. The author/illustrator also tells how she was inspired to create this book by an encounter with an octopus in her local aquarium near her home in Long Island, New York.
Extending the Learning: Create an ocean sensory bin for students to explore. Using gelatin, water, blue and green food coloring, and plastic ocean animals, you can create an unforgettable sensory experience. Need more information? Visit No Time For Flashcards for instructions!
Other Ocean Books
Are you looking for even more ocean books? These titles are sure to go swimmingly!
Hello, Ocean by Pam Munoz Ryan
The author of this lyrical book uses all five senses to evoke the feeling of being at the beach. From the taste of the salty spray to the crunch of the sand beneath the toes, readers are drawn into a conversation between a girl and her old friend, the sea.
Extending the Learning: Make some salt dough and do some seashell prints. Students can help make the dough, press shells into the dough, and paint the results.
How to Catch a Mermaid by Adam Wallace
This playful “tail” is part of a series that explores how one might catch an imaginary creature. In this playful poem, the children in the story try various clever traps to catch the mermaid, but she keeps outsmarting them. Will they ever catch the elusive mermaid to befriend her?
Extending the Learning: Encourage students to develop more clever ways to capture a mermaid, a dragon, or other fantasy creatures. They can draw a picture. Combine the ideas into a classroom book.
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