Ocean Floor Dramatic Play Transformation

Learning Areas:

  • Dramatic Play
  • Art


What is this activity?

ECSEL Standards

What skills are being enhanced? What knowledge is gained?


What do you need to prepare for this activity?

Paint brushes with paints on bright background


Step by step guide

ECSEL Prompts

What questions can you ask to promote ECSEL thinking and discussions?

Extended Learning

How can you extend children’s thinking?


Transform your classroom Dramatic Play center into the ocean floor! 

ECSEL Standards & Learning Goals

What skills are being enhanced & what knowledge is being gained through this activity?

Emotional Identification

Children will begin to recognize and identify the four basic emotions (happy, sad, angry, and scared) that arise within the context of creating dramatic art with teacher guidance.

Cause & Effect

Children will begin to associate a cause with each of the four basic emotions with teacher guidance.

Empathy & Prosocial Skills

Children will work collaboratively to complete their classroom dramatic play transformation with teacher support.

Problem Solving

Children will use their problem solving skills to think about how to create an ocean using the materials provided with teacher guidance and support.

CASEL Standards

Self-Awareness, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, Responsible Decision-Making


  • Printed pictures of the ocean floor and coral reefs 
  • Butcher block paper 
  • Tape
  • Body-safe paint in different shades of blue and green 
  • Pieces of ripped up tissue paper in colors representing the ocean floor
  • Paintbrushes, rollers, and sponges 
  • Glue
  • Trays 
  • Children’s smocks 
  • Toy ocean animals 
  • Blue dance ribbons or dance scarves 
  • Device for playing music


  1. Prepare for the activity by printing out images of the ocean floor, focusing on coral reefs. 
  2. Secure a piece of large butcher block paper to the art table with tape. 
  3. Put out printed images of the ocean floor and coral reefs, and lay trays of body-safe paint on the butcher block paper along with the tissue paper and painting/gluing materials. 
  4. Introduce the activity by reading your favorite age-appropriate book about the ocean. Share with the class that you will be working together to turn the classroom into an ocean. 
  5. Support children in putting on their smocks and getting to work! 
  6. Play ocean sounds on your music device as children paint and glue. Encourage collaboration and problem-solving. 
  7. Verbalize what you see children working on including colors, representations of the ocean and ocean animals, acts of empathy and prosocial behavior, and emotions that arise during the activity. 
  8. After the mural is complete and dry, hang it in your classroom dramatic play center. Make sure to switch out the materials in the dramatic play center to coincide with the ocean theme (e.g.., toy ocean animals, blue dance ribbons or scarves, etc.)
  9. Encourage children to explore their new dramatic play center. Put the ocean sounds back on your music device and guide children to move like different ocean animals using the ribbons and scarves. 

ECSEL Prompts

ECSEL Prompts are helpful questions & guiding statements you can use to provoke children’s thinking about emotions. These prompts are related to this specific activity.

I can see you smiling! Are you happy? You could also be excited.

What is making you feel happy? Is it fun to see your new dramatic play center?

I love how my friends are working together to make their own ocean!

What can we use orange tissue paper to create? Where do you see orange in the printed picture?

Extended Learning

Use these questions & ideas to extend children’s learning!

Extend this activity by using tools such as Our Emotions Board or Our Emotions Cards to connect the activity to different emotions. These tools can be used during different steps of this activity, including while children are creating their mural, when children are seeing their final mural, or after children have explored their new dramatic play center.

Connect the ocean to a regulation technique. Discuss how the sound of waves can help calm us down.

Toddler – Ocean Floor Dramatic Play Transformation

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