O is for Octopus

We live near the ocean, so the kids always love a preschool theme relating to the ocean or ocean animals. During our "O is for Octopus," We focused on octopuses, but also talked about other aspects of the ocean and ocean creatures.

Learning the Letter

Vowels are tricky because they have two sounds--long and short. I did tell my kids that O had two different sounds, but I focused on the short sound for this unit. I plan on returning to the letter O and revisiting it to talk about the long vowel. To introduce the letter's shape and sound of the short O, we used these free printables from Confessions of a Homeschooler (I love it when the themes from her free printables coordinate with my units. You've probably noticed I've linked to her printables in several of my units).

The Books We Read

Here are a few of our favorite books we read about octopuses and other ocean creatures:

Tickly Octopus by Ruth Galloway
In this book the Octopus loves to tickle other creatures (often causing their annoyance), but when he causes the Oyster to drop his pearl into the deep, dark ocean, he finds out that he has many other talents as well.

Octavia and Her Purple Ink Cloud by Donna Rathmell, Doreen Rathmell and Connie McLennan
In this cute book, all of the different ocean animals show how they can camouflage themselves and protect themselves from predators. But each time Octavia the Octopus tries to show how she can squirt her ink cloud it comes out the wrong color. In the end, when it really matters and she needs to protect herself, though, she squirts out her purple ink cloud perfectly. This book also has some fun learning activities at the end and on the website here.

The Pout-Pout Fish (Book & CD Set) (Pout-Pout Fish Adventure) by Deborah Diesen
In this charming, rhyming book, the pout-pout fish encounters many different ocean creatures, including an octopus, as he spreads is "dreary-wearies" with his glum face. In the end, though, he finds that he doesn't have always have to spread gloom. My kids adored the rhyme, repetition, and fun illustrations of this book.

Life-Size Aquarium by Teruyuki Komiya and Toshimitsu Matsuhashi
This beautiful, over-sized non-fiction book is a great introduction to many different ocean creatures. My kids love going to the table of contents, which is drawn to look like an aquarium, and choosing a "tank" (page) to visit.

Math Activities

We talked about how "oct" means eight, and we counted the legs of the octopuses we saw in our books and made other groups of eight objects from around our house. I also love this Octopus counting activity.

Field Trip

We went to the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro. This is a wonderful, free aquarium right by the beach. There are dozens of tanks with sea creatures such as an octopus, colorful tropical fish, sea horses, sharks, huge spiny lobsters, jellyfish, and more. If you are there at the right time, you can visit their touch tank tour as well and touch sea stars, anemones, and other creatures. My kids also love the hands-on discovery center where they get to dress up like sea creatures and  put on puppet shows.


We made hand-print octopuses. I painted the children's four fingers and palms (but not the thumbs) on both hands and then pressed their hands onto a piece of paper. I overlapped the handprints to make their hands form one octopus with eight legs. I cut out these handprints and we put on googly eyes and smiles. The inspiration for this craft came from this great Under the Sea preschool theme.

We also made Octopuses from the letter O. I cut out the letter O shapes and let the kids decorate them. The kids helped cut out long strips of paper for eight legs and we also glued some cheerios on the legs (though the cheerios aren't in the picture above).

Pretend Play

I spread out a big blue blanket and printed out pictures of ocean animals on the blanket. Then, we put on our dollar-store snorkeling masks and pretended to go diving. We excitedly pointed out all of the ocean creatures we found. Then we took turns pretending to be different animals while the others were divers. We had a lot of fun with this game.


Though I'm not a huge fan of hot dogs, we do have them as an occasional treat. My father-in-law introduced us to these easy-to-make octopus-shaped hot dogs, and the kids LOVE them. I also love this darling Octopus-themed lunch I found at Cookie Cutter Lunch.


One of our favorite songs is "Octopus" by Charlotte Diamond (some people also refer to this song as "Slippery Fish":

We also loved the beach-themed fingerplays and activities from Carroll County Public Library website.

As always, for more Octopus-themed ideas you can check out my Octopus board on Pinterest. You could also look at this Ocean-themed board as well!


Debbie Diesen said...

Thank you for including Mr. Fish and his friends in your octopus-themed activities!

Best Fishes,
Debbie Diesen (author of The Pout-Pout Fish)

Andrea said...

You are welcome! Thanks for writing it!

Rachel said...

Thanks for commenting! It is such a fun book! My kids giggle so hard when I read the blub, bluuub, bluuuuuub part :)