Thursday, July 3, 2014

Explore Tide Pools with Your Children This Summer

If you live near a beach, or are vacationing near one this summer, don't miss the chance to explore them with your kids! They are a fun way to experience nature, and a great learning opportunity.

Tide pools present a unique opportunity to see an ocean environment up close and personal.  Their easy accessibility makes them an ideal learning experience for young children, who can explore ocean animals and habitats without having to take them scuba diving.  Here are a few tips and strategies to explore tide pools with your children.

Tide Pooling
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#1.  Learn the tide schedule and go at low tide.  This is important; you won’t have anything to study or explore if the tide is in.  When it goes out, however, little magical wonderlands are left behind.  Make sure you know when to expect the tide to come back in and the predicted weather.  It’d be a shame to become caught in a storm and watch your tide pool wash away before your eyes.

#2.  Use the low tide to explain to your children the gravitational pull of the moon and how it affects our seas.  This can be a complicated concept to understand for little ones, but they can comprehend the basic idea.

#3.  Make sure children are wearing protective shoes.  Water shoes or sandals are a good choice because they move easily when wet, but will still protect a child’s feet from sharp shells and stones. 

#4.  Consider preparing your children for the animals they are likely to encounter.  That way they can be on the lookout or make a scavenger-type hunt out of the trip.  They can look for one of every type of creature on their list.

#5.  Explain the general rules of nature.  Take only pictures; leave only footprints.  Make sure children understand they are witnesses of nature, not shoppers. 

#6.  For older children, encourage them to bring a sketchbook or a camera to document the wildlife they view. 

Sea Stars,Sea Urchins,Sea anemonesin Tide pool...
Sea Stars, Sea Urchins, & Sea Anemones in Tide pool. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
#7.  Use a tide pool to teach children about how animals survive.  Show them animals that have weapons, animals that use camouflage, and animals with exoskeletons to protect them.

#8.  Make sure everyone, parents included, is wearing sunscreen or long clothing to avoid sunburn - particularly on sunny days.

#9.  Make sure children, and adults, use caution when reaching into the tide pools to retrieve a creature.  Additionally, make sure each creature is put back where it was found.

#10.  Consider taking a pair of gloves and a small net so you can easily retrieve life, coral, shells and other items from the tide pool without risk of injury to yourself or to the environment.

Tide pools offer a wealth of learning opportunity and they’re fun to explore.  Children will have a wonderful time exploring these small worlds and learning about the ocean, and parents can enjoy a fun family outing while sharing this learning experience.

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