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Under the Sea Classroom Theme and Decor Ideas

Are you looking for some new classroom decor ideas? How about an under the

sea classroom theme? There are so many fun ways you can incorporate sea life into your room that will make your learning spaces bright and appealing to kids.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas:

Under the Sea Classroom Decoration Ideas

blue and green streamers

When you think of the ocean, what color schemes come to mind? I bet various shades of blue, green, and white top your list. You might also want to include a little bit of light beige (like sand) or yellow for the sun.

If your school allows you to paint your walls, it's pretty easy to give those colors center stage. But if painting is not an option, you can still dress up your windows with curtains or party streamers like this:

Ocean-Themed Bulletin Boards

There are lots of ways you can decorate your bulletin boards in an under the sea theme. Here are some ideas for the beginning of the year:

  • We're O"fish"ally ____ Graders

  • We're a Fin-tastic Class

  • Welcome to ______'s School of Fish

  • Whale-come to ____ Grade

  • Swimming into a New School Year

  • Catching Waves in ___ Grade

under the sea back to school bulletin board

Throughout the year, you can use a starfish theme on your board to feature star students or super star work.

Under the Sea Door Decorations

It's easy to decorate your classroom door in an ocean theme. A really simple idea is to cover the door with blue paper. Then, attach netting so it drapes across the door. You can get decorative fish net at most craft stores like Michael's or Hobby Lobby. While you're there, get a bag of little sea shells to attach to the net. (Or Amazon has a bunch of nets with shells already attached) Finally, print or buy cut outs of ocean life like fish, crabs, whales, etc. Put each student's name on a shape and attach to the netting on your door.

paper chain octopus

Another super cute idea is to create a paper chain octopus to hang on your door. Just cut a shape out of poster board for the octopus' head and glue on some wiggly eyes. Then make paper chains for its arms and attach to the head. You can arrange the arms any way you like on your door. This little guy would also look great on a bulletin board!

Ocean THEME DESK & nAME Tags

An adorable way to welcome students on the first day is by making little boat name tags to put on their desks. These are so easy to make by just folding a square of paper. Write their names on the side and put a few little Lifesaver candies (life preservers) inside. They will love it!

paper boat name tags

If you don't know how to fold a paper boat, check out these instructions from Martha Stewart: Paper Boat Place Card (Hers are so adorable!)

You can make also make really cute ocean animal name tags for you your backpack hooks or cubbies. These sea animal cut-outs from Carson-Dellosa are large enough to write a student's name or number on them. The large, colorful shapes are great for younger children. If you teach grade 3, 4, or 5, you might prefer to use something less childish like these cool surfboards!

Other ways to create an Ocean-Themed Classroom

There are so many ways you can give your room a fun under the sea theme beyond just classroom decorations! Here's a list of ideas to get you started:

Behavior Clip Charts

ocean theme behavior clip chart

Many elementary teachers use a clip chart to manage classroom behavior. You really want your students to buy into whatever behavior plan you use. A cute clip chart with fun sayings is a great way to do this! I used this ocean themed one in my classroom for several years and it was a huge hit with the kids.

The great thing about a clip chart like this is that students can move up for good behavior. That means it works as an incentive chart as well because they

really want to "clip up" and will work hard to earn that privilege.

SHARK Binders

These are your students' daily take home folders. SHARK stands for - Super Helpful, Always Responsible Kid. It's a great acronym that reminds students of your expectations. You can find some really cute printable binder covers online or download this free Shark binder cover:

shark binder for student daily folders

Centers and Learning Stations

Most teachers in the elementary grades have different learning stations around the room. A good way to incorporation a little geography into your sea theme is to label each area of your room or center with the name of an ocean.

Classroom Library

One the best under the sea classroom ideas I have ever seen was in another teacher's classroom in my building. Her room had a nautical theme and she made the cutest reading spot using a small boat. Hers was an old metal rowboat, but you could also use a canoe or even an inflatable boat. She loaded it with comfy pillows and painted the sides to look like there were waves along the bottom. Her students loved sitting in the boat during independent reading! Another option is to build a boat out of cardboard: How to Build a Cardboard Boat

ocean theme books for the classroom

When setting up your classroom library, don't forget that any books you have about ocean animals can double as decor.

Use a special shelf or section of your library to display your favorite books about the ocean and sea life. Each month you can feature a different book along with some fun facts about that animal. It's a great way to sneak in some learning about fascinating sea creatures!

Quiet Ocean Calm Down Corner

If you teach young students, you probably have a spot in your room for them to go when some time out is needed. You can even give this area an ocean theme which can really make it feel calming and peaceful. I really love how inviting this little calm down area looks decorated with a coral reef and fish wall decal set:

under the sea classroom wall decor

Giving an upset child a task like, "Count how many fish you find on the wall," is sometimes enough to redirect his or her attention and get the day back on track.

Many times a student can be calmed and refocused through some quiet sensory play. An ocean sensory bottle is so easy to make! Here's all you need:

  • small plastic bottle (empty water bottle)

  • water

  • baby oil

  • blue food coloring

  • some little plastic fish, small seashells, or other ocean items


  1. Fill the bottle halfway with water.

  2. Add a few drops of food coloring until the water turns light blue.

ocean fish sensory bottle

3. Drop in a handful of little fish, shells, or whatever you have.

4. Fill the rest of the bottle with baby oil, (leave 1/2" air space at the top).

5. Close the lid tightly. (I suggest putting a little super glue on the threads of the bottle so the cap can't be removed.)

That's it! What the bottle is turned and moved, the fish will "swim" around inside. If you're a little worried about using water, you can fill the bottle with blue colored sand instead. Just leave more air space so it's easy to move the sand around to see the creatures inside.

Sea Theme Work Groups

I'm sure your lesson plans include cooperative learning activities, guided reading groups, and other tasks that require students to work together. A fun way to group your students is by giving them fun ocean animal names. Maybe your reading groups are the sharks, the dolphins, the seahorses, and the narwhals.

ocean animals table signs

If you want to create assigned work areas instead of set groups of students, you can do the same thing with table labels. Make each table a different animal. For older kids, it's fun to use specific ocean features for your work areas. Imagine sending your students to work in The Great Barrier Reef, the Mariana Trench, the Rift Valley, and the Abyssal Plain.

I hope I've given you some new ideas for your under the sea themed classroom. It's one of the most popular designs for a reason - kids really love it!

under the sea classroom decor set

If you're looking for print-and-hang items for your ocean theme, you will love this Under the Sea Classroom Decor set.

It includes over 200 pages of printable pieces to help you create an inviting and warm place for your students to learn.


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