Under the Sea (Unit 1, Week 1)

Hi there friends! We are back a bit sooner than expected because I really wanted to share something new and exciting with you. Michael and I decided that since Ella can't attend a preschool this year (as originally planned) we wanted to incorporate more structured learning into her home routine and we are excited to share our plans with you guys. It's our own version of 'home schooling' for Ella. I did a whole post on why I decided to do this with Ella at home at such a young age, and elaborated on the planning and organization that got us here. You can see that post here, so please start there to understand why we are doing this and how you can implement something at home if you want to. Our main inspiration came from Ashley @ Hapa Family Vlog and she is total #momgoals! We are excited to be more intentional with our educational activities that we plan for Ella and start our own version of 'home schooling.' We do still plan to follow Montessori methods of learning/parenting loosely, and try to let Ella lead and do as much independently as possible.

We started on September 1st and have planned out the rest of the Fall as well. 
Our very first unit in September was ... Under the Sea. Ella is sooo obsessed with sea creatures so this was so perfect for her. (The poster prints came from The Dollar Tree.) 

These are our subject(s) that we focus on each day of the week:

Sunday- Art & field trip day
Monday- Music 
Tuesday- Language & math
Wednesday- Practical life
Thursday- Sensorial & art
Friday- Geography
Saturday- Science

Ella may choose to do a previous activity again on another day of the week, because it will often stay on her shelf through the whole unit, but we leave that up to her. We still want to leave most of our day 'child-led' and let Ella decide what she wants to play with and explore.

Here are our different activities that focused on those subject areas. 

Week 1-
Tuesday- Feed the shark ABCs / Counting ocean creatures
Wednesday- Washing the sea animals activity
Thursday- Water bead sensory bin / blue whale craft 
Friday- Sea creatures around the world
Saturday- Growing seahorse activity 

*our weeks are going to go Sun-Sat and our first week in Sept was a short one

I re-organized our shelf to include several different 'under-the-sea' activities. Some are not included in our subject areas as they are simply fine-motor activities or for play and exploration. I will add the new daily activit(ies) to her shelf and depending on her interest level, I may keep them longer than just the day- it may stay all week if she likes it. Some of the activities are messy and need a bit more guidance (like some of the sensory bins) so we will be keeping those off the shelf most of the time.

(Some of our 'free play' shelf activities)


Language- Feed the shark ABCs:

We got the wooden shark cut outs at Michaels and I let Ella color and paint them early in the morning. I had made "Aa" "Bb" and "Cc" fish shaped cards using cardstock I had laying around. For the activity, I hung up the shark using a command hook, and I told Ella to "feed the shark." After she selected a fish card, I would pronounce the sound of the letter on the card and she would try repeating. It was super cute because she said "ah ah ah" for all of them. We stuck to A B and C to start, but will keep this activity in our closet and incorporate more letters as she grows.

original source- http://newswithnaylors.blogspot.com
materials- wooden shark | wooden container

Math- Counting 1, 2, 3

This activity was so easy to make and you can totally modify it to your taste. I printed out under-the-sea images online and pasted them to some foam cut outs we had laying around. I had the foam numbers from a previous craft activity and put the materials in these cute little wooden craft squares. I demonstrated to Ella how to pick up each item and count "one" an then would show her the #1. I stuck to 1-3 for now until she starts to pick up on the concept of counting. Even after just going through this a few times with her she will now say "two" after I say "one" which is so cute.

materials- wooden containers | foam numbers


Practical Life- Giving her whale a bath

For this practical-life activity, I set up a 'bathing station' for Ella to wash her whale toys. We gave her some soap, a sponge, a washcloth and a 'sink' of water. She loves water play anyway, so this was a huge hit. I want to be more creative with her practical life related activities... but this was more of a last minute idea. I am glad she still enjoyed it though! 

materials- sea creatures (similar)


Art- Foam blue whale project

I got this cute little whale activity at the craft store and thought it would be a perfect project for Michael to do with her, as I am not home on Thursdays. I set it up on a tray for them, so it was organized and ready to go. Unfortunately, Ella showed no interest and told Michael to make it go "bye bye" so we didn't get to complete the whale. We try to let Ella "lead" so if she wasn't interested, he didn't force her.

She was however interested in some painting time, which is also an art activity!

Please ignore my awful drawing skills.

Sensorial- Water bead sensory bin

Water beads are the coolest activity and I wish I had them when I was younger. I filled a giant dish full of them and buried some under-the-sea creatures inside. Ella used her scoops and cups to transfer the animals out and back in. She just loves playing with these. It's great for sensory development but the scooping really works the hand-eye coordination too.

materials- water beads


Geography- Sea creatures around the world

I bought this amazing felt world map from Michaels craft store and we are just obsessed. It came with a bunch of felt animals as well. Michael sat down with Ella and helped her place the various animals and sea creatures on the map based on where they live. Because she's so young and doesn't understand regions/countries yet, we just showed her how to put the ocean animals in the water on the map, vs the other animals that we helped her place on land. She loves this activity actually and it's the one toy she actually helps us clean up. (This is an old pic as we didn't take one when we did the actual activity on Friday.)


Science- Growing a seahorse

I found this little seahorse at The Dollar Tree. You stick it in water and it expands in size. I LOVED THESE when I was little and was sooo excited to find this for only $1. Ella really liked to watch this seahorse growing too, because she loves talking about things that are "big" and "small." Depending on your child's age and education level, you can be as detailed as you want on your explanation for why this works. I will update you on how large our seahorse gets next week! 

We plan to do as much as we can to stick to our theme during the week, even if it's not on our schedule. 

For example-

A sticky wall wasn't even one of our scheduled activities but Ella loves it. The shells were just something I printed offline and cut out. The blue fish shapes and actual contact paper are from The Dollar Tree. Ella also used green pipe cleaners as the 'weeds' and used lots of fish stickers to fill in the empty spaces. This is a great filler activity and she can go play with it whenever she wants. I always keep a basket or bowl of random objects nearby that she can stick on at her leisure. 

Deep (2017) - Where to Watch It Streaming Online | Reelgood

When we had screen time, we watched Deep on Netflix, which Ella loved! 

I am enjoying this so much. I wanted to be a teacher my entire life, and decided last minute to do dental hygiene. Being able to do something simple and fun like this at home has really been a fun project for me, and I can tell Ella enjoys it too. Focusing in on one theme all week (or two weeks) long will allow her to really 'master' those things too. Before this week, she would call every sea creature a whale. Now she understands 'whale' 'dolphin' 'octopus' 'turtle' etc. Its fun to watch her learn :) 

I plan to share our activities with you at the end of every week and will do my best to share where we got our materials. If you have any questions, please reach out and check out my Pinterest board where I have saved lots of activity ideas. Next week I plan to share our week 2 of the under-the-sea unit. 

Here are our scheduled topics for next week! :)

Week 2-
Sunday- Collect shells on the beach and paint them
Monday- Slippery fish / 5 Little fish / Baby shark 
Tuesday- Match ocean animals & cards / Counting ocean creatures
Wednesday- Making dinner and dessert- fish and under-the-sea jello cups 
Thursday- Playdough octopus legs / coloring sea creatures
Friday- Repeat sea creatures around the world activity
Saturday- Make your own ocean water sensory bottle

We look forward to seeing you next week to share more of our "homeschool" fun! If you liked today's post, please hit the follow button on the right, and follow us on Instagram here. Thank you for your support! 

-Ashley & Ella 

1 comment

I appreciate and love all questions and comments!