Kick off your ocean theme activities with a fantastic STEAM project! This fabulous ocean watercolor salt painting is easy to make with just a few simple materials from the kitchen. Combine art with science with STEAM learning, and learn about absorption and fun watercolor background technique for various art projects. We love ocean activities!

Salt Watercolor Ocean Painting for Kids


Ocean Art Projects for Kids

Add this simple ocean craft and STEAM activity to your lesson plans this season. Let’s grab the supplies if you want to learn more about combining art and science for STEAM. While you’re at it, make sure to check out these other fun ocean activities.

Ocean animals are a fantastic way to explore both art techniques and an ocean theme from sharks to narwhals to jellyfish, your kids can explore mixed media, black glue, collage, and watercolor techniques in a very doable way!

In fact, you can add this watercolor ocean technique with salt painting to any of the featured ocean animal art projects below!

Free Printable Watercolor Guide

Want more fun ways to use your watercolors or learn how to make your own? Grab this free watercolor guide with clickable links to help you plan your next art day!

Ocean Painting Watercolor Activity Set Up

Combine a popular kitchen tool and a bit of physics for cool art and science that everyone will love! Salt in watercolor is such a neat effect that kids of all ages can explore.


supplies needed for salt painting ocean craftPin


Before starting your salt painting, make sure to protect your work surface. Cover the area with newspaper, tablecloth, or shower curtain for easy cleanup.

Then download and print out your ocean theme pufferfish, starfish, and bubbles! You will see I recommend printing on different colors of copy paper, but you can also print it all on white paper and have the kids use markers, crayons or oil pastels to color the pictures.


TIP: Alternatively, you could use stencils on the paper and apply the same salt painting effect to them. Use oil pastels for resist art to create details in the creatures.

STEP 1. Coat the watercolor paper in water until it’s damp but not soaked. Watercolor paper is highly recommended for salt painting activities and will yield a nicer, finished project!

TIP: Watercolor paper is made to handle all the extra water! I like 140lb paper but shoot for at least 100lb mixed media paper if possible. Construction paper or copy paper is more likely to tear and rip off during the process.

STEP 2. Select your paint colors. Different shades of blue with touches of green and yellow will make for a pretty ocean background. Add the watercolors to the damp paper using a paintbrush until you are happy with the results.


TIP: Draw in details with oil pastels for added texture. Draw waves, seaweed, coral, or even small fish to create a richer textured background for your blowfish and starfish.

STEP 3. While the paper is still wet, sprinkle pinches of salt across the surface and let the science begin! Read more below.

TIP: Spread the salt so you don’t have little piles of salt left on the paper.

STEP 4. Allow your ocean salt painting to dry completely, and then glue on your sea creatures and bubbles. You can even make your own additions of seaweed or fish!

TIP: Create other sea creatures if desired, or use our handy downloads! We have sharks, narwhals, and jellyfish templates to try as well.


The Science of Salt Painting

Adding salt to the damp paper creates mini-explosions within the watercolors for a really neat effect on the paper. This effect is because of something called absorption. It’s similar to the salt painting with glue activities you may have done before with your kids.

Salt absorbs water moisture because it is attracted to highly polar water molecules. This property means that salt is hygroscopic. Hygroscopic means it absorbs liquid water (food coloring mixture) and water vapor in the air.

You could also try adding sugar for a fun science experiment and compare the results!

STEAM combines art and science, which is precisely what this watercolor salt painting has done. This ocean craft is easy to add to an ocean theme or change to fit any theme you are working on.


Easy Ocean Activities to Try

There are so many clever ways to explore the ocean with kids. An ocean theme is a fantastic lesson plan idea even if you don’t live anywhere near the ocean!

More Printable Ocean Activities