Ocean zones in a jar

Eve’s ocean jar

We are learning about the 4 main layers or zones of the ocean at the moment in our new topic ‘under the sea’. I thought it would be a good idea to try to get some sort of visualisation of the darkness of each layer based on its proximity to the surface.

If you would like to do an ocean zone jar you will need;

  • a large clean jar plus lid
  • black treacle
  • washing up liquid (ideally blue)
  • blue food colouring
  • oil

Continue reading to find out how we did it.

Eve understands the layers and their names and their colours but i don’t think she yet grasps why they are dark, or light, etc. So here goes…

Eve and me raided the kitchen cupboards for liquids that we thought might work well in this experiment. Each layer needed to be slightly less dense than the previous one, to avoid mixing. This was a challenge in itself. Then we also needed to make sure the colours were going to be similar to depict the different zones!

We settled on treacle for the first layer in our jar. This was to depict the abyss layer. It was about the right colour and very dense! Getting it into the jar was a very sticky challenge though.

The next layer we chose to use washing up liquid. It would have been far easier if we had actually had blue washing up liquid in the house, but we didn’t. We had yellow. But…we did have blue food colouring! So we mixed a few drops of food colouring into the yellow washing up liquid and hey presto, our midnight layer was done. Next job was to pour it carefully into the jar on top of the treacle.

The midnight zone being added

Layer number three, the twilight zone. This needed to be lighter in colour as well as density. So we decided to simply use water with a little blue colouring. This worked well so we carefully poured it into the jar.

The twilight zone being added

The last zone, the sunlight zone, we used oil. We decided not to colour this as we didn’t think it would work and also the sunlight zone is the lightest and brightest part of the sea so we thought a yellow oil colour would work quite well. So Eve carefully added the oil to the jar and then we screwed the lid on tightly.

Eve was fascinated by the jar and its contents. It worked really well to not only teach her about the ocean zones but also about density.

Give it a go and let us know how you get on


Hi, I'm Sarah, a home education mum living in rural Scotland.

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