It is no small part of the giant wonders of the sea that it's just so, well, giant. Vast. Deep. Full to the point of teeming. And how on earth are we to make sense of any of this for our little preschoolers, who may or may not have ever seen or splashed in an ocean or two but almost certainly don't have any sense of its size.
A map of the world, of course, helps. And then once you've established some sense of where all those seas and oceans and lakes and rivers are, you've done some work towards giving your little one a sense of all the water. But the water itself is only part of the ocean's delight.
What's in there? Who lives in the sea? The best way to learn, marine experts tell us, is to get thyself and thy little one to a tidepool. Life at the edge is the best entry point. But if you're looking for a tour that you can conduct from the dry land of your own home, enjoy these wonderful primers on marine biology, from a preschooler's perspective:
Who Lives under the Sea gives you the lay of the land—uh, the sea, rather.
A Swim through the Sea uses the alphabet to show you around the deep waters. The juxtaposition of the alphabetical organization and the more extensive vocabulary of the written text makes it especially well-suited for families with different-aged siblings where the younger child is just learning the alphabet while the older is getting deeper into the science.
From the Let's Read and Find Out science series, What Lives in a Shell? gives you a tour in the style of a wonderful early education science book.
Douglas Florian's "divine! delish!" collection of poems about fish and other marine creatures, in the swim, will make you laugh every single time you read it.
Between the Tides tells you all about life in a tide pool, if you can't find one of your own near enough to splash in.
No creature is more adorable than Sea Otters, and the darling pictures in this book will have your little one clamoring for a pet otter immediately!
The ocean does bring so many gifts, and Out of the Ocean catalogs the wonders that the tides bring to those who wait on the shore.
And, finally, Eric Carle's masterpiece, A House for a Hermit Crab is a book we turn to for life lessons about moving and growing and trading old for new and so many life events that our little ones struggle to make sense of every day. But of course it's also a highly individual tour of life in and near the ocean. It is a true gem.