Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Ocean Life Mat

Amy blogged about an ocean life mat she made over at The Wonder Years and I thought it would be a perfect activity to take on our summer vacation. Amy made hers with canvas and fabric paint. I was going to do the same but could not find canvas (I was at Wal Mart) and the fabric paint was super expensive.

I improvised and made mine out of felt. Instead of painting on the details I used liquid stitch to basically glue on the sky, the sand bottom and the island. I also cut out a variety of corals, seaweed, and rocks out of felt. I think I like this better than if I had painted them because now they are movable.

I happened to make four of these mats. We had so many animals, two boys, and a lot of leftover felt. I made two large 11/17 mats, and two smaller mats the same size as an airplane tray table.

We keep the objects that go with them in two ziploc bags. I filled a smaller ziploc bag with a reduced selection to take on the plane. It was a great activity (especially since they hadn't seen it before) to pull out on the plane. It was also wonderful to use on vacation with their grandmother who is so knowlegable about ocean life. It increased their interest in things the saw on the beach and the ships they saw on the water. The mats also spurred a lot of learning conversations about the ocean with Nana that may have not otherwise happened.

The boys use Toob animals and the felt pieces I made to create their own ocean life scenes. We have the following Toob collections that we use with this mat: In The Water Toob,
Coral Reef Toob, and the Ocean Toob. Toob animals can be expensive, but don't have to be. Most places seem to sell each toob for around $10. However, Michaels carries them for 6.99 and I bought them one-at-a-time using the weekly 50% off a single item coupon in the paper.

Does anyone else ever buy these tubes and not know the names of the animals in them themselves? I certainly didn't know the names of everything and knew my husband wouldn't either. I scrounged around the internet a bit and found lists of the proper names for everything. I typed labels and made a little display of each group with the label next to the animal. After photographing these, I printed them and laminated them (about the size of an index card) to put in the ziploc bags along with the animals.

I am including those photographs here. Feel free to right-click, copy these, and print them for yourselves if they will be useful. I have also done this for some of the other Toobs and will probably post them eventually.

Ocean Toob

In the Water Toob

Coral Reef Toob


  1. Wow! I'd like to play with it myself:)

    You did a great job with the project and it was a good idea to do it while you were vacationing near the ocean too.


  2. On my Dinosaur Toob, the names are on the bottom/belly of each dinosaur.

    Just thought I'd say in case it's the case for all the Toobs (I've only ever purchased the Dinosaur).