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Oil Spills In The Ocean

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Teach children about how oil spills happen, their effects on ocean habitats, and how difficult they are to clean up.


To create the Ocean:

  • large plastic tub
  • water
  • plastic boats
  • blue food colouring
  • sea creatures

olive oil (to add to pollute the water)

To experiment with to clean up the oil spill: 

  • spoon
  • feather
  • paper towel
  • sponges
  • soap

What to do:

  • Set up a miniature ocean in a large plastic tub using the materials (except oil).
  • After the child plays with their ocean, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the water.
  • The "ocean" in now polluted with oil.
  • Encourage the child to think of ways to clean up the oil.
  • Using different materials the child suggests, see if they can remove the oil.
  • Add a little soap to see what happens.
  • Discuss how difficult it is to clean up oil spills.

Hints and Tips:

  • Discuss ocean animals and what happens when they get covered in oil.
  • How birds cannot fly once they get covered in oil.
  • How oil spills are cleaned up
  • How to prevent oil spills from happening
  • What else may harm the ocean animals

Lively, Sue "Inspiring Kids To Protect Our ocean Oil Spill Activity", Onetimethrough, 30th April 2015.

Additional Info

  • Appropriate Age: 3 year+
  • Number of Children: Individual (1), Couple (2)
  • Developmental Milestones:

    Following directions

    Use provided resources 

    Listen and ask questions interact with peers and educator

    Work with others and share resources

  • Play Based Learning: Sensory Play, Exploratory Play
  • Interest Areas: Sand and Water Area, Science and Nature, Sensory Play
  • Games Categories: Cognitive Development, Learning Games, Sand and Water Games, Sensory Games
  • EYLF Outcomes: Learning Outcome 2, Learning Outcome 4
  • Sub Outcomes:
    • 2.4 Children become socially responsible and show respect for the environment.
    • 4.2 Children develop a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.
Last modified on Tuesday, June 11, 2019
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