Here are three ways to do ocean small world play with something other than water. Water is always a great and easy go to but if you want to level up your invitation using water beads, dyed rice/pasta, or slime sand are great options to enhance sensory play.
To set this small world invitation you will need Ocean Animals, shells, seaweed, rocks, flat marbles, and any of the three bases (water beads, dyed rice/pasta, slime sand). Invite the child to create their own ocean small world play.
Small world play is simply when children explore figurines, loose parts, and sensory materials that reenact scenes from nature, books, fairytales, or a subject matter of interest. When small world play is accompanied with sensory materials it enhances comprehension, language, imaginary play, and tactile play.
Small worlds are great for many areas of development, including language, imaginary play, and sensory play. This type of play can be defined as where children accept and assign roles, and then act them out. To further enhance their play adding the tactile elements creates endless possibilities with materials that heightens a new depth of sensory play.
When children engage in play they break through the walls of reality, use their imagination, pretend to be someone or something different from themselves, explore different worlds, and have actions to go along with the roles they have chosen to play. This type of play is an integral part of the developmental learning process by allowing children to develop skills in such areas as abstract thinking, literacy, math, and social studies, in a timely natural manner. They are able to play and manipulate a variety of materials and textures with stimulate their mind and body. It encourages language development, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, focus and concentration.