Help kids explore the importance of ocean pollution with this clean up sensory science activity!
Ocean Pollution Science Activity for Kids
- Sensory Table or Large Plastic Bin/Tub
- Plastic Ocean Animals (we used these ones)
- Plastic Toy Boat
- Cocoa Powder
- Vegetable Oil
- Plastic Bags
- Coffee Grounds
- Cotton Balls
- Dish Soap
- Small Scrub Brush
- Fine Motor Tools (we have been loving this new set)
- Plastic Bottles with Lids
- Coffee Filters
1. Fill your large plastic bin/tub halfway with water.
2. Take a sample of the clean water by filling a plastic bottle with lid. Set aside.
3. Add plastic ocean animals, seashells and a plastic toy boat to the sensory bin.
4. Let your children play in the clean water and have fun!
5. Mix a bit of cocoa powder and vegetable oil in a bowl. Dribble the oil into the water, on the boat and on the animals.
6. Let your child examine what has happened to the water. It’s no longer as clear or clean. Discuss what happens when oil spills into our oceans.
7. Drop a few spoonful of coffee grounds into the water. Now it’s really starting to get gross! The water color is stained and it’s become quite cloudy.
8. Shred plastic shopping bags. Add the plastic to the water and stir it around.
9. The plastic has really polluted the water. It’s around the animals necks, arms and legs. Discuss what happens when an animal gets stuck in plastic waste.
10. Take a sample of the polluted water by filling a small plastic bottle with lid. Set aside.
11. Use fine motor tools to remove the plastic from the water. Untangle any plastic from the animals.
12. Use cotton balls and sponges to try and absorb the oil that has spilled into the water.
13. Use dish soap and a small scrub brush to clean the oil off of the plastic animals.
14. Stuff a coffee filter into the top of a small plastic bottle. Filter some of the polluted water through the bottle. Remove the coffee filter and put the lid on the bottle.
15. Place the clean ocean water sample, the polluted sample and the sample after you attempted to clean the water side by side. This helps teach children that pollution has devastating effects.
Explore Ocean Pollution Further with Your Child
When we did this activity all my kids ages 2-11 jumped in to explore. The conversation was amazing. Some of our favorite resources to explore ocean pollution more in depth are:
- Kids Take Action Against Ocean Plastic by National Geographic
- Plastic! Ahoy: Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
- National Geographic Kids: Ocean Plastic
- The Life Cycle of a Plastic Bottle by TedED
- All The Way to the Ocean by Freedom Three Publishing
- A Plastic Ocean (available on Netflix)
Not setting up this activity right this second? Then pin this post so you can easily find it later!