3-D Ocean Activity

Children’s Activity post: 3-D Ocean Activity

I have had a lot of success with this 3-D Ocean activity with both younger and older children. It really consists of 2 activities in one, in my opinion. This activity is great for multiple reasons.

First, it fosters imaginary play. The 3-D place mat is a splendid tool to immerse children in play, not to mention, it’s really quite brilliant to look at… IT’S 3-D after-all!

Secondly, when you add a clothes pin and mini bucket, it becomes an activity that fosters fine motor development and eye-hand coordination. These skills are necessary to be able to grasp writing tools such as pencils or crayons. The opening and closing of the clothes pin is a steller hand exercise!

materials for 3-D Ocean Activity


Here is what I used for this activity…


  • a tray
  • a 3-D place mat (pick up from a dollar store)
  • ocean animals
  • small bucket (or unbreakable bowl)
  • a clothes pin

As I state often, I like to set up the beautiful activity for the child so it creates an invitation to play. Here is how I would present it to the child. In a child care setting, I would set up this activity for 4 children at a time, all of which were given the same amount of materials.

materials for 3-D Ocean Activity

I placed the ocean animals on the 3-D place mat and placed the clothes pin on the mini bucket. The goal of the activity is to pick up or “catch” the animals with the clothes pin and place them in the bucket.

3-D Ocean Activity

3-D Ocean Activity

Another way I have used this type of activity is by using it to assist children in the waiting process. While it is very important to teach children to wait their turn, it is always helpful to offer a similar alternative to assist them with the waiting process. For example, if similar materials are being used in a water table, I have placed this activity at a table that is parallel to that water table activity. This places children in the queue, for lack of a better way to describe it.

I have also had children who are uninterested in the “catching” activity and have simply used the mat and animals as an imagination center. Imagination is an essential skill that helps children discover about the world around them. It helps also to increase vocabulary and communication skills. Let’s consider a child playing with this activity. The child is discovering the names of the animals and the habitat they live in. It now opens the door for countless expansion activities opportunities.

3-D Ocean Activity

I hope this was helpful. Keep in mind, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to create meaningful and rich activities for children.

Later gators,

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