Land and Sea Sensory Sorting Activity

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

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