We’re ready to embark on our first homeschooling experience and the boys have chosen ‘ocean adventures’ as our first topic. At the start of a new area of learning, we usually start with some open ended play, so they got straight to work setting up this tray up.


  • Atlas of Ocean Adventures
  • Sea creatures
  • Coloured circus scarves
  • Shells and pebbles
  • Grimm’s waterwaves


The circus scarves are used nearly every day in their small world play, often alongside loose parts, such as pebbles and shells. They enjoy setting the scene up, almost as much as actually playing with it.

I am a firm believer in learning through open ended play. The more uninterrupted, unstructured play the better. The benefits include:

  • Problem solving and learning cause and effect.
  • Learning how to play with others through compromise, conflict resolution and sharing.
  • Developing fine and gross motor skills.
  • Nurturing their creativity and imagination.
  • Discovering their independence and positive self-esteem.

I asked what they would like to learn about ocean life and they chose to discover more about polluting the marine ecosystem.

DfES Early Learning Goals (2017)

Understanding the world

ELG 14 – The world:

Children know about similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another. They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.

DfES Outcomes for EYFS and National Curriculum (2013)

Science Year 1 programme of study

Animals, including humans

  • identify and name a variety of common animals including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals
  • identify and name a variety of common animals that are carnivores, herbivores and omnivores
  • describe and compare the structure of a variety of common animals (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, including pets)