Gotta love the ocean! There are so many creatures for kids to love whether they like cute and colourful or big and scary. Today’s free math activity is an ocean size sort, focused on small, medium and large. Grab the play dough or the pencils and let’s go! Also, scroll down to the bottom of the post for lots of links to ocean activities.
Why do we sort?
Academically speaking, math and literacy (and science and music and all the rest) rely on us being able to differentiate between letters, numbers, notes and whatever we’re observing. In other words, we need to be able to see the similarities and differences between things. Children who are good at this tend to have an academic edge.
Sorting by size, colour and shape helps little ones practice their observational skills. Of course, we don’t need printables to do this, we can just look to the world around us. But most kids do enjoy sitting with play dough, and most enjoy sorting, too. And with this ocean size sort they have the added bonus of becoming more familiar with ocean creatures so that’s an added bonus!
Montessori would say that kids love to sort because they naturally like to create order in a world where they don’t have a lot of control. I’m not sure what their motivation is, maybe it’s like that feeling we get when we’re putting a puzzle together, we just want to conquer the task!
Anyway, being able to observe closely starts with the big and obvious and then refines down to the smaller. (You can find another free visual discrimination printable HERE). So we start our kids on size, shape and colour and then gradually make the differences more and more difficult to spot. This trains kids to examine the fine details rather than the overall picture, which really helps with reading, writing and mathematics (and maybe even reading other people’s facial expressions).
What you’ll need
- Download the Ocean Size Sort printable from the link at the bottom of this post.
- Copy paper for printing
- Laminating sheet if you want to make a fun play dough mat
- Play dough and / or pencil and markers
How to use this Ocean Size Sort activity
Print off either the colour or black and white versions and cut out the ocean size sort cards. If your child will use play dough, laminate the mat, and the cards too if you want them to last.
Rather than explaining how to do the activity at the start I like to give children the cards to look at first, to see what they make of them. Give them time to look at the pictures and see what they have to say about them. Odds are, they won’t know the names of them all, particularly the smallest ones.
After a bit of investigation introduce the ocean mat. Check out the row boat, tugboat and ship at the top and chat about the different sizes. They will probably have already noticed that the pictures are sized differently and they can line the pictures up under each vessel to decide whether it’s small, medium or large.
If you’re using play dough, ask your child to create different sized creatures for their ocean. They can try and re-create the pictures they see, or they can create their own. They can do the same with pencils, too.
- If they create only large creatures, how many can fit in their ocean?
- If they create only small creatures, how many can fit?
- Where might each creature live in the ocean? On the surface? On the floor? In deep water or shallow?
- Can all these animals live happily together? Or should some of them avoid each other?
- The Moon Snail might be a good one to Google, because how can a snail live in the ocean?
Here’s your free printable!
Click on the coloured link to download the Ocean Size Sort. As soon as you click it will be immediately sent to your download folder (or device equivalent).
I hope your kids love this activity and wish you happy teaching and learning!
PS Don’t forget to check out all the other wonderful ocean activities below!
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT:
(NOT SHOWN) Ocean Size Sort: Small, Medium and Large // Liz’s Early Learning Spot
Odd and Even Number Fishing // Adventures of Adam
Ocean Animal Beginning Sound Clip Cards // The Letters of Literacy
Ocean Counting Mats // Mom Inspired Life
Ocean Felt Busy Box // Teach Me Mommy
Free Ocean Flip Books for All Ages // Simple Learning Kids
Shark Roll and Cover Game // Playdough to Plato
Octonauts Hermit Reef Oil Spill // Tuff Spot Play
Write and Wipe Addition Cards // The STEM Laboratory
DIY Ocean Counting Clip Cards // Life Over Cs
Color Word Clip Cards // The Simplified Classroom
Ocean Sensory Bottle // The Pleasantest Thing
Subitising Fish Game // Fairy Poppins
Salt Water Experiment | Ocean Science for Kids // Science Kiddo
Diving Fish Science Experiment // Schooling a Monkey
Ocean Animal Count and Clip Cards // The Kindergarten Connection
Five Little Fishies Song and Counting Printables // Stay at Home Educator
Ocean I Spy Printable // Powerful Mothering
Color Matching Fish Puzzles // Modern Preschool
Ocean Sensory Bin // Play & Learn Everyday