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Coral Reef: A STEAM Activity for Young Learners

This post also includes our snack this month for Kids in the Kitchen.

Our Ocean Dive unit from Experience Early Learning has come to an end, and what a fun month it has been! We learned a lot about the ocean this month, how we can do our part to save it, and worked on so many important skills all while having fun, and most of our learning happened through play. We ended our week with a coral reef STEAM activity. As a teacher I loved this activity for several reasons. Seeing their imaginations and engineering skills at work are just a couple of them.

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Playdough is an important part of childhood. It helps strengthen the small muscles in their hands that they use for writing. These are the muscles they will grip their pencil with. This STEAM activity encouraged language, literacy, math and science skills - all at the same time! They were engineers figuring out how to best build their coral reef. We learned about coral reefs early on in our Ocean Dive unit, and this week we revisited that topic.

I love the picture displays that were available in Member Resources.

We learned that coral reefs are fragile and that many ocean animals rely on them. We also learned that most coral reefs are built from stony corals, whose polyps cluster in groups. The children enjoyed admiring the colors within coral reef pictures and were surprised to learn that The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space, as it is the largest coral reef system in the world.

As a member of Experience Early Learning, you receive access to wonderful resources under the Member Resources tab in your account. I love that with this activity I could find pictures to display in our Coral Reef Center. The children saw the pictures hanging on the wall and immediately got excited for our activity. I also really liked that these pictures promoted print awareness.

My preschoolers were the quietest I have heard them during this activity. They were so focused on how to build their coral reef and how they were going to use the materials that they sat quietly at this center for a long time. As they finished their coral reefs they started comparing them to each others and started talking about their process.

As you can tell from the pictures above, they were so focused! Ocean Dive was one of our favorite units this year. Our Experience Preschool curriculum box did not disappoint!


When I can I try to tie our monthly theme into our Kids in the Kitchen snack. Kids in the Kitchen is once a month. It's a fun way to wrap up the month and for April we made a fish pond. For this snack we used:

  • A plain rice cake

  • Vanilla yogurt

  • Blue food gel

  • Blue sprinkles

  • White pearl sprinkles

  • Goldfish

I gave each child a bowl with some yogurt in it that had a small dab of food gel (you don't need much) and they stirred the two together to make their yogurt blue. After they had blue yogurt they spread that onto their rice cake. The blue sprinkles were the 'rocks' at the bottom and the white pearl sprinkles were the bubbles. These were really cute, and they had so much fun putting them together!

Join us next week, as we begin our Garden Treasures unit!

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