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Land and Sea Sensory Sorting Activity

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There’s many different versions of this sensory play activity on the ‘gram and here’s ours! Sorting activities are so beneficial to little learners: they can help them to build on preexisting knowledge (in this case, animal names and habitats) and boost development of hand-eye coordination. Read on to find out more…

Age Suggestion:

This sensory sort can work from as young as 12 months (either choose land or sea) or for preschoolers as a sort and play exercise.

As with all of the activities featured on this website, please supervise closely.


Here’s just a few reasons why you should try sorting activities with your little ones:

  • Develops problem solving skills
  • Helps understanding of mathematical concepts such as matching and classifying (you can even count the animals in each tray afterwards)
  • Boosts language skills – each animal can be named and their habitat discussed
  • Helps children to cross the midline
  • Works fine motor skills
  • Helps to develop hand strength and fine motor skills
  • Develops perseverance for tricky tasks

You will need:

  • 2 trays (we used the Flisat table)
  • Food colouring in blue and green
  • Plain flour
  • Water
  • Shaving foam
  • Herbs from the garden
  • A selection of animal figurines from both the land and sea, presented in a bowl/ tray
  • A selection of kitchen utensils.
  • A towel – place underneath the trays or table you are using to prevent slipping.
  • Wipes or damp cloth


  1. Sprinkle a thin layer of plain flour into the bottom of each tray.
  2. Add drops of food colouring on top – the more you use, the darker the colour!
  3. Gradually add water until you get a gloop like consistency.
  4. If you wish, add herbs to the ‘land’ tray and shaving foam to the ‘sea’ bin.
  5. Place a variety of land and sea creatures into a tray for sorting.


Miss 3 wanted to sort the animals (which she did at top speed) but wasn’t at all interested in play. Mr 14 months however was all about exploring the trays – so I guess we can call that a win?

Here’s the thing about sensory play: it doesn’t always work out exactly as intended but that doesn’t mean it was a complete failure. Sometimes children need to be introduced to a new sensory experience on a few occasions before they will really engage so I will be trying a similar activity to this in the future.

Want more?

Check out the following:

Tutti Fruitti Cloud Dough

Garden Play Dough

10 Activities to Beat the Summer Heat

Sian Thomas

Sian Thomas

Sian is a trained teacher mama to three awesome children and wife to Greg. As a family of expats, they travel the world every couple of years for new adventures. Right now, they live in Vienna, Austria.

One thing Sian is super passionate about? Helping mums worldwide navigate the early years of parenthood.

You can join her on her brand new venture, This Playful Home, by visiting www.thisplayfulhome.com or clicking the email sign up button below!

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