5 Mermaid-Themed Activities and Books

Mermaid-themed parties, cakes, and crafts are everywhere, and yet I struggled to find activities to relate to the books I was reading to my kids when it came to the same topic. That is why I created this short post devoted to some books and activities all about mermaids! I’ll update as we create more. 🧜🏽‍♀️

The Mermaid Magnetic Sensory Bin

My goal for this activity was to have my children find hidden letters and sea creatures at the bottom of this container. I used magnetic letters to spell out “the mermaid” and place these letters onto of the bin. Then hidden items will be on the bottom of the container to find, turn into fun new shapes and patterns.

Sensory bin for the book The Mermaid, made with hidden magnetic items.

Materials for this Activity: 

  • Sensory tray
  • Blue colored rice
  • Purple colored chickpeas 
  • Shells (we made a border like the illustrations in the book) 
  • Small ocean figurines or mini erasers 
  • Magnetic letters 
  • Tool bin (magnetic wands, scoops, sifters, cups, and tongs) 
  • Book The Mermaid by Jan Brett

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Process & Play Ideas: 

We put this bin together after reading the book The Mermaid by Jan Brett. I started by placing magnetic chips to the tray base. Then I added small figures that were ocean-themed also throughout the bin. Then I covered the items with blue rice. For a border like Jan Brett’s book, I used purple chickpeas to form a ring around the tray and then decorated this edge with shells in a pattern. Lastly, I set up the tool bin for this activity with magnetic wands, sifter, scoops, and cups. We used this tray after we read The Mermaid together. 

Recycle Paper Craft Mermaid & Octopus 

I made cardstock outlines of ocean creatures over a decade ago when I worked with kindergarteners. Somehow, these very sturdy stencils survived the test of time and children. So today was the perfect day to turn them into something new. I let my children use Do-A-Dot paint to decorate them and glue on recycled materials we had in our closet. When I made these shapes years ago, I used black cardstock, white colored pencils to draw the shape, and scissors to cut them out. Then the children traced around the edge of the shapes to practice tracing, and fine motor skills for cutting their shapes as well.

Completed octopus rainbow was used with mini erasers, magnetic chips, Pom poms, and shells from the sensory bin.

Materials for this activity: 

  • Cardstock or paper ( use can print my shapes and precut the figures for your child if needed)
  • Ocean shapes outlines
  • Glue sticks (optional)
  • Recycled materials (buttons, sequins, pom poms, bingo chips, etc. )

Process & Play Ideas: 

After laying out the materials for my children, I showed them an example that I made the day before for them to see. Then we looked through the book The Mermaid by Jan Brett to see examples of how the mermaid looked.

Tuff Tray Ocean Floor Sensory Mermaid Activity

I came up with this activity because we read the book Oona by Kelly DiPucchio, which is also about a mermaid that loves to find treasures around the ocean floor, and thought it would be an excellent activity to compare and contrast the mermaids in both books. We re-read The Mermaid by Jan Brett and then had fun acting out events in the book with this tuff tray activity. We used our completed recycled paper projects as characters and used loose parts to put things together for the book retelling. 

Materials for this activity: 

  • Large sensory bin or tuff tray
  • Blue couscous, lentils, sequins, epson salt
  • Sand
  • Rocks 
  • Tool bin (sifter, cups, scoops, tongs, various size containers, loose parts like buttons)

Process & Play Ideas: 

After reading Oona and The Mermaid, the kids made their mermaids and octopus to use with this tray. Then I filled the tuff tray with all the blue materials and mixed them with the sand and rocks. Those items were all recycled from previous sensory bin play from last week. Then I let the kids have fun. They immediately made a soup with the materials to reenact the scene from The Mermaid. Then they played with their mermaids in the tray.

For more ocean-themed activities please visit my blog post Best Ocean Activities and Books for Preschool Learning at Home.

Water Bead Oona Treasure Activity

Materials needed: 

  • Water beads (black, purple, clear, green) 
  • Water beads (blue, green) 
  • Sensory bins or IKEA FLISAT table and two bins 
  • 4-6 cups of water
  • Black rocks (bought from Micahel’s)
  • Faux plants ( bought from Michaels) 
  • Scoops, cups
  • Ocean figures 
  • Mermaid, octopus, fish figurines if possible. 

Process & Play Ideas: 

I first placed the rocks and plants at the bottom of the tray. Next, I added the water to the bin. Then I layered the different color water beads around the tray. 

I read the book Oona and The Mermaid to my children and did a quick compare and contrast mini-lesson. 

Then I let them play with the water beads. They loved watching the dots enlarge as they played. My daughter would find little items from around the playroom to add as “treasures” like Oona did in the book.

For more water bead activities please visit my blog Water Bead Activities for Sensory & Water Play.

Mermaid Trace and Paint Craft

My kids’ love making giant projects lately, and since I had out the painter’s paper from an ocean wall project we are also doing, it just was natural to make a life-size mermaid for the wall. My daughter had so much fun making her legs like a mermaid’s tail and decide on her design for this project. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would; the Do-A-Dot paint was the time saver for this project.


  • Marker or pencil 
  • Painter’s paper roll (We get the largest roll Sherwin Williams offers)
  • Do- a- Dot Paint or paint & paint brushes
  • Scissors 
  • Tape (optional to hold paper to the floor)

Process & Play Ideas: 

Cut about four feet of painter’s paper. Have your child lay down onto of paper. Ask them to keep their legs together and turn them to look like a mermaid’s tail. Then, trace your child’s outline on painter’s paper until their knees. When you get to their knees, you will want to start drawing a mermaid’s tail so make sure they have their legs moved together to flip to the side like a mermaid. We looked in books to see which design my daughter like the best. My son just had fun rolling on the paper to be honest.

When I reached tracing the ankles, I had my daughter move off the paper. So just make sure you have completed the left and right side of the shape before your child moves. Then I formed the end fin by drawing a shape almost resembling a wide half-circle. 

After the mermaid outline is complete, my kids used Do a Dot paint to fill in their artwork. My daughter wanted a belt, so we made a pattern, squiggle lines for the tail, and a pink shirt and hair to complete the look. Again she looked through books to see what she liked best.

Once the kids were happy with their creation, I cut out the mermaid and let them pick where she would be placed on our ocean wall. My son’s mermaid never made it to completion, he thought getting to fall on paper was the fun activity.

One side note, the leftover scraps are perfect for making coral and sea anemone. We didn’t utilize ours for the first mermaid we made, but will for the next one. 

Thank you so much for visiting Live Learn Literacy! I hope you found something you can use with your little ones. If you have any future projects you think I should try or books you would love to see projects with please contact me at ChrisC@morenomade.com or on instagram @livelearnliteracy.

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