Transform the dramatic play center into a BEACH for a summer theme, ocean theme or a beach theme! Your students will LOVE to play at the pretend beach, and you will love it because you can sneak in tons of literacy, math and STEM learning opportunities! Learning through play is powerful! Grab your lesson planner because I’m going to give you tons of ideas for your pretend beach.
One of the first things students can pretend to do is put on sunscreen. It’s an easy way to teach and practice sun safety. Use empty bottle and place a sunscreen label on it, and you now have pretend sunscreen.
Create a lifeguard stand with a plastic red chair; this one I found at Walmart. Tape a long cardboard tube to it (like the tube from wrapping paper), and you now have a flag pole. The lifeguard can change the flags based on the ocean conditions (safe to swim, dangerous to swim or animals in the water). This is another important life skill especially if your students visit the beach. Students need to know to check if the ocean is safe BEFORE they get in it.
When we go to the beach, everyone loves to build sand castles and collect shells. Place kinetic sand, sand castle toys and shells in a plastic tub. I use kinetic sand because it is easier to clean up than loose sand. It’s a great sensory experience and fine motor activity too.
If you want to integrate STEM, place Sand Castle blueprint paper and measuring cubes (Unfix cubes) next to the sand for students to plan, design and measure their sand castle.
To transform the center into a beach, I covered the wall with blue butcher paper. Students painted fish all over it, and I taped some of the ocean animal crafts they made in art onto it as well. I also taped some blue butcher paper to the ground so students could pretend to swim, float and surf in the “ocean”. The tubes, rafts and surfboards are from the Dollar Tree.
Life jackets! Place life jackets in the center so students can practice putting them on (fabulous fine motor work). Water can be deadly for young children so teach them the importance of wearing a life jacket when you play in the water. If you don’t have any life jackets, ask families if they have any extra you can borrow for the unit.
Let students pretend to go fishing at the beach so you can sneak in sorting into the dramatic play center. Make fish different sizes and colors so students can sort the fish they catch. I made fishing poles with doll rods, plastic string and a magnet. I then placed paper clips on the end of each fish. Students will be sorting and using math vocabulary during play!
Getting hungry? Make a snack shop. This is a grocery store stand that I transformed into the snack shop stand by taking the awning off and taping a plastic table cloth to the front. Then I added signs, menus, rental agreements and order forms for environmental print and writing opportunities. Beachgoers have to “read” the signs (aka read the pictures) and order items from the menu.
Students made these pretend popsicles with Model Magic by rolling the Model Magic around the popsicle stick. Once it was dry they painted it and placed it in a real popsicle box. We also made cookies with Model Magic, made chips with yellow paper and made snow cones with tissue paper. Friends, you can totally make pretend props instead of buying all the fancy ones from the store.
Now you are ready with tons of fantastic ideas to transform your dramatic play center into a beach! Making all the printables takes a long time so GRAB Beach Dramatic Play from my TPT store HERE! It has tons of printables, teacher direction pages with real classroom photos, parent letter, prop lists and more! Just print and prep. All you will need to do is collect props and set up the center.
If you are creating a beach for a summer theme, check out this blog post with tons of Summer Themed activities for all the other centers in your classroom!
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