Counting Activities with Over In The Ocean Book

We have read the most incredible ocean books lately. I didn’t realize we had so many that focused on counting, so I pulled some of my favorite activities we played with to create this post. The book we read today was Over in the Ocean in a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Jeanette Canyon. We LOVE this book! Here are our favorite counting activities we used after reading this ocean book. 

Over In The Ocean: In a Coral Reef by Marianne Berkes and illustrated by Jeanette Canyon 

Skill: Counting 1-10 

Ages: 3-8 yrs

Over in the Ocean in a Coral Reef is a book filled with rhymes, action, and counting. The illustrations pop off the page with incredibly intricate detail that weaves beautifully with the text. The illustrations are vibrant and use such great texture that makes the pictures look like they can swim toward you. This book will continue to delight my children as they grow since the illustrations include great counting opportunities for more significant numbers. For example, on page 2, the story only counts two seagrasses growing, but there are so many other details on the page that can be used for counting higher numbers, such as the scales on the fish.

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The back of this book is filled with ideas of things to do with little learners. They included the song “Over in the Ocean,” ocean animal facts, and tips from the author and illustrator. 

Counting Activity after reading Over in the Ocean & Island Counting 1 2 3

The inspiration from this activity came from the clay illustrations in Over in the Ocean in a Coral Reef. We also added the detailed grouping of items from the book Island Counting 1 2 3 by Frané Lessac. My youngest has been working on counting 1-5, so I needed a simple material to work with, that is why we used play dough for this sensory fun. 

Materials for Ocean Play Dough Counting Activity: 

  • Playdough 
  • Sumblox or other number blocks 
  • Sensory bin (Round metal tray came from target for $10)
  • Blue Epson salt (Leftover from another sensory activity) 

Process & Play Ideas for Ocean Play Dough Counting Activity: 

  1. Create one sea slug by making a long coil of play dough and having your child represent this with one number block. 
  2. Then continue making ocean plants and creatures for numbers 2-5 or larger numbers if your children can handle that much creating. We stopped at five because it was a lot for them to complete. We have made ten fish before with our Ten Little Fish Counting Activities, so I know they would love to keep going, but that is where we stopped for today. 
  3. Each time you finish a number, have your child find a number block to represent the items made. We read Island Counting 1 2 3 the day before and completed other sensory activities. So we tried and use the pattern from Island Counting 1 2 3 and make details within the object to also include the number. For example, two fish also had two points on their tail, two fins, and two gills. For more sensory activities with Island Counting 1 2 3 please visit my article all about it.
  4. When all the ocean creatures are complete and counted, add them to a sensory bin for added play. 

My daughter and I counted the items from 5-0 and 0-5 while repeatedly moving the creations on and off the tray. Then, when counting fun was over, my kids turned the sensory bin into a tea party, and we had an underwater sea party. I loved how these simple materials turned into hours of screen-free play for my children.

Number Writing Activity

We also used the sensory bin and sumblox to practice writing numbers 1-5. You can also add gems to trace the number even more, which is an activity I did with the same materials from another underwater sensory activity.

Sensory bin filler is perfect for tracing numbers and letters for writing practice.
Example tracing activity using gems and mini erasers to practice forming letters.

Thank you so much for reading my post about ocean counting activities using the book Over in the Ocean in a Coral Reef. If you liked the activities included in this article, please visit my homepage to see more posts and play ideas. I love creating activities for my children that are educational, fun, and foster a LOVE for all things literacy.

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