Ocean Play Dough and Loose Parts

Make ocean play dough for exploring with shells, gems and other beach themed loose parts, as a lovely sensory play activity for summer time!

Ocean play dough

We made a new batch of our super quick, 4 minute, no-cook play dough to represent the ocean for some beach themed play. Into the boiling water we added 1/2 teaspoon of blue Wilton Icing Colour and a whole lot of silver glitter once it was kneaded together,  to make it sparkle! Read the easy, no-cook recipe instructions here.

Invitation to play with ocean play dough and shells

I set it out as an Invitation to Play with a bowl of shells in various shapes and sizes, blue and clear glass gems and a dish of fish and sea creatures.

Ocean play dough and loose parts for play

[The metal dishes they are in are plant pot stands from Ikea, £1 each. We use them for lots of play set ups!]

Ocean play dough with gems and shells

The sparkly, ocean coloured dough was very inviting and they enjoyed exploring the various textures of the loose parts as they added them to it. Miss 4 enjoyed making lots of prints using the shells and fish, exploring the ridges and bumps with her fingertips.

Ocean play dough and loose parts

They made patterns and collections using the gems, making them part of the stories they told as they played. They introduced some mini toy figures too, and took them along to the beach for a visit.Sea shells in ocean play dough

All of the girls played with this after school until bedtime, in lots of different ways, their play evolving over time. They ended up turning the play dough into sculptures with shells on top and clothes to cover their dolls and animal toys, decorated with the beach themed loose parts.

We have stored it in an airtight container and it should last for a few months.Ocean themed play dough recipe

See our huge collection of Play Dough Recipes and Activities, all from this blog!

Alternatively, browse the archives (there are many ideas to see!)

What they are learning as they play:

physical: fine motor strength and coordination through pinching, twisting, rolling, squeezing, flattening, moulding

creativity: using one object to represent another during play, using objects to create stories, patterning, sculpture, textures, printing

Literacy: creative storytelling, descriptive language

[The children are currently 5, 4 and 2 years old.]

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  1. Jennefer says

    Loved this idea, thanks!
    I wondered where you got your little fish from, and other small creatures for small world play? I’m sure I’ve seen a link to a web page somewhere on your site but I just can’t find it again. Thanks very much.

  2. Claire says

    Hi Anna,

    I wanted to put a request in for a post if that’s okay! I love your ideas, including your invitations to play. I have a 3 and a half year old and a second baby due in December – and so I’m nervous about how to create a balance between setting up interesting activities for my older child, without him being totally reliant on me for a flow of activities. So I wondered how you handle transitions in your day? Do you set up a series of activities in the morning and encourage your children to go from one to another? Do you create an expectation that they will play independently in between? I do wonder how to best help my child enjoy activities without him becoming reliant on me all day (especially knowing that soon that will be impossible; I fear we may have already fallen into that trap a little and so I have half a year to try to create new habits!). Any light you could shed on how you transition (or let the children transition themselves) between activities would be hugely helpful!

    Thank you!