Ordering and sorting are one of the first ways that you can introduce measuring to toddlers and early preschoolers. An ideal way to do this is through books and activities that bring them alive. One of our favorites books to do this is I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry. This is a great book for young children and toddlers because the graphics are bold and bright, and the story is very simple with few words. Throughout the book the basic concept of size is introduced - something that very young toddlers are beginning to grasp.
The story is narrated by a giant squid who thinks he is the biggest thing in the ocean. He swims around the ocean proclaiming that he is bigger than each creature that he encounters. He is indeed bigger than all the other creatures, except one! Unfortunately, I'm going to spoil the hilarious ending for you by showing you this activity, but I promise you will still love the book.
Materials Needed for I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean Animal Sort
For this activity, I gathered images of all the sea creatures mentioned in the book.
You can download them here.
More I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean Based Activities
Setting up your Ocean-Themed Sorting Activity
All you have to do is print out the sheets, laminate them if you wish for durability (or adhere them to cardboard if you don't have a laminator), then cut out each sea creature. You will have 8 creature “cards” and one sheet with just a whale on it.
Playing with Ocean Animal Sorting
After reading the book, here is what we did with them:
- We looked at each sea creature card and said the name of each one. This is a good exercise for language and vocabulary development, reinforcing the names of sea creatures.
- We put all the sea creatures in size order from biggest to smallest. We did all 8 cards with my 3 year old, but you can modify the activity for younger kids by using less cards. This is a great activity to reinforce the concepts of size and size relationships.
- Wondering what the whale is for? Well here is the spoiler: the whale is actually the biggest thing in the ocean! He swallows all the creatures, including the giant squid, and they all hang out in the whale's belly. So I thought it would be a cute activity to tape the image of the whale to a box and make an opening where my daughter could slide each creature card in. This way all the creatures end up in the whale's belly, just like in the book!
This was by far the most fun activity. My daughter repeated it over and over again. Great fine motor skill practice and you can reinforce the names of each creature again while your child “feeds” each one to the whale.
I hope you enjoy this book activity!
You can find more book activities at Totschooling:
Viviana is a blogging mom to a toddler and a preschooler, sharing ideas and resources for early learning. She specializes in educational printable activities, which you can find on her blog Totschooling.