Home > Nature Study and Activities for Kids > A Guide on How to go Rock Pooling with Kids

A Guide on How to go Rock Pooling with Kids

Although this year we won’t be going very far, we will certainly make our way to the shore and do one of our favourite activities rock pooling or tide pooling as our American family call it. It’s always been a favourite activity of ours and as a marine biologist, I have spent many hours turning over rocks, catching creatures and seeing the wonderful world below the waves. Taking my kids to do the same has always been a joy and it’s an easy summer science and nature activity that we can do together. So you can to we’ve put together some of our top tips and advice so you too can go rock pooling with your kids.

Advice and tips for rock pooling with kids from a marine biologist and environmental educator. Make a tip to the beach this summer a learning experience

How to explore rock pools with kids

Just a quick note if you are a reader from the USA then instead of calling these rockpools you may be more familiar with the term tide pools. They are essentially the same thing.

guide to exploring rock pools at the beach with kids of all ages

What Equipment Do You Need for Exploring the Rock Pool with Kids

We have included affiliate links to some of the products and resources as an associate we may earn from qualifying purchases.

A small fishing net

Bucket or a beach aquarium like this one

Guide for the beach if you want to discover what you have found – check out our FREE Printable Rock Pool Scavenger Hunt Book to download HERE!

A beach with rock pools

How to Go Rock Pooling with Kids (as young as toddlers)

preschooler holding a net on the beach getting ready to explore the tide pools.

One of the things that we always do when we are rock pooling is make sure that our feet are suitably covered – with rocks, limpets and barnacles on the rocks at tide mark we really don’t want sore and cut feet – so wellington boots or jelly shoes are required.

barnacle covered rock one of the things that you will see when rockpooling with kids

Once we arrive at the beach it’s time to explore – fill up a bucket with water from the pools and then dip the net in and explore.

kids exploring the rock and tide pools on the beach with nets and buckets

It really is that easy – the sand at the bottom of the pool is often one of the best places to find small shrimps and small fish.

grandfather and toddler looking at the edge of rock pool to see the creatures that they can find.

Tide Pool Scavenger Hunt for Kids

Free mini guide for a nature scavenger hunt on the rocky shore this summer

Do your kids love scavenger hunts? Then why don’t you head over and get our FREE Tide Pool Scavenger Hunt printable to take with you when you go? It won’t matter whether you are in the UK, USA or elsewhere in the world the objects to find are very general.

5 Top tips for rock pooling with kids

5 top tips for rock pooling with kids, from toddlers up kids will enjoy exploring rock pools year round.
  • CHECK THE TIDE TIMES – Know the tide times for the beach you are visiting – you don’t want to be trapped and equally you don’t want to arrive and find that the time you have it’s high tide and the kids won’t be able to get on the beach.
  • Wear shoes – rocks, barnacles, limpets and even the possibility of a crab nipping at the toes means that they are likely to be cut make sure that little feet and yours are protected.
crabs, snails and other creatures found in the tide pools by kids as they explore and catch and return
  • Don’t forget the rocks themselves – many creatures in the rock pools are sedentary using tentacles to feed or filter out plankton from the water. Check out the rocks along the inside of the rock pools and if you are there at low tide then check the rocks at the lowest point they may hold all sorts of interesting creatures.
  • Take some water home with you – Take a small bottle with you and take it home – then look at it under a magnifying glass or if you have a microscope at home have a look there. At home, we have a magnifier block set so poor a little water in and can see what microscopic creatures are in the water as well.
  • Journal the experience afterward – with the kids even toddlers and preschoolers you can nature journal. Use photographs, drawings and notes to create a journal of your rock pooling and then you can use it to compare to the next time you head out rock pooling with the kids.

More Summer nature Study Activities for Kids

Summer is an ideal time to get out and explore nature with the kids check out these 3 simple summer nature activities you can do together and also our 10 Ways to Learn at the beach this summer.

FREE Printable Forest Scavenger Hunt Activity Sheet to complete with toddlers and preschoolers
Fun Nature Study activity for families and classes to look at the minibeasts that can be found in different microhabitats.
collage of tadpoles, frog spawn and frog


  1. Carrie Wootten says:

    Love this – one of my favourite things to do with my nephews!

  2. I have never read the Sharing a shell book, I will have to get it for my children as they love Julia Donaldson books. I use to love rock pooling as a child and can’t wait to take my own children someday xx

  3. I love Julia Donaldson’s Sharing a Shell book. Exploring the beach is the perfect activity to go along with it.

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