We’re sharing 10 ways to learn at the beach this summer stopping the summer slide whilst having fun at the beach for your kids no matter what their age. As you may have gathered if you are a regular reader that Summer is my favourite season and just thinking about it gets me enthusiastic like no other seasons does. I love the beach and the sea and for the two years that I lived more than an hour from the beach my heart just wasn’t in the place. If you are heading to the beach for the summer it doesn’t mean that learning has to stop or the fun – instead you can extend and introduce new ideas so here goes my 10 suggestions of ways to learn at the beach this summer.
1. Learn about the environment
This is my top one – the beach provides a unique environment for kids to explore that they won’t easily find at home, there are many creatures that will be unique to your area of the world however they will be some that won’t be native and will have found their way there on the tides. Walk along and see what you can find! Look at the back of the beach are their dunes, marsh, town if there is a town are there any hints of what the beach was like before hand? What sorts of plants are there on the beach if any? How about the shells do they tell you anything about the sort of environment below the waves? Even the colour of the sand will tell you a lot about the environment – is the sand white – there will be coral reefs close or there was in the past, yellow sand lots of sedimentary rocks and shells broken up to form it, black sand – volcanoes nearby.
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2. Rock Pool exploration
If your beach has some rock pools then these are a perfect way to explore “under the waves” in a child friendly manner – all you need is a simple net and a bucket – you’ll commonly find small fish especially flat fish that live on the sea floor their fry try and stay in the rock pools as it’s safer, shrimps, anemones, crabs, molluscs like snails and bivalves like mussels. The best time to explore is after the tide has gone out or even more exciting after a storm when lots of new creatures will have been deposited in the pools.
3. Strand Line Discovery
The strand line is the point where the tide comes up to – depending on the beach that you explore this maybe close to the sea letting you paddle a little as you explore or it could be a long way away – it proves a great discussion point with children on how it is formed. The strand line will be a mix of natural and man-made items. The natural items maybe local to your beach but things like coconut’s can be found in the Antarctic where currents have taken them. A word of warning – the strand line could contain items that are dangerous like syringes always encourage a look but don’t touch if that is the case.
I think shells deserve their own category – on the beach who doesn’t love collecting them – take a bag with you and collect them to bring home – then the learning at the beach can continue at home. Whether you want to use the shells in a nature study categorising them and identifying them – look out of spotter guides for shells from your area to help you do this and add them to a nature table or how about using them to do some Maths like these symmetry patterns from The Imagination Tree or some literacy with these story shells from Crafting Connections from May’s mini magazine which you can get free till June 11th by signing up to their newsletter.
5. Writing in the sand
Hands up who still does this write messages in the sand – it’s a fantastic for your little ones – whether they are toddlers who love to scribble the damp sand is best and a stick they can scribble brush over and start again – like their own magnosketch on a large scales. If you have kids that are learning to write or have mastered letters and moving onto words and sentences then give them a stick practice what they have been doing this year on a large scale – lots of kids learn by doing and moving so it’s perfect to reinforce what happens in the classroom.
Where you are in the world will depend on how much of a tide that you will see – we live near beaches where the tidal range is easy to see as the beaches are gently slopping the sea can go out for almost a mile with a low tide and a day at the beach we see the difference easily. If you are unsure about the tides on the beach looking at the strand line will give you an idea of where the high tide point is – look for the strand line that is most dense this is the normal one – higher up the beach you will find a high tide or storm line but there won’t be as much on that strand line. Observe the tide changes, record them and then discover what causes them with your child. If you are staying for longer than a day make it into a project for the holiday – combine it with a look at the strand line recording what gets deposited at each high tide.
7. Visitors to the beach
Yes I admit it you would be very lucky to see a Leatherback Sea Turtle at the beach this summer – but it’s not impossible. However, you may see signs of a turtle visitor when you walk along the beach – look out for tracks coming from the sea and returning in a u shape with a nest at the top – see if you can research or ask around what species of sea turtles nest on the beaches where you are. Sea Turtles won’t be everywhere but there are plenty of other visitors to the beach – does the beach have seals that visit, how about the shore line birds they will all leave tracks that you can discover and explore.
8. Learn to swim
So not always possible depending on your beach – but the sea provides an added advantage for your little ones that are learning to swim or even older ones that are perfecting strokes the salt content means that you float easier. Calm seas that are safe for swimming – check to see if there are any dangerous currents or other things that mean that it wouldn’t be safe if it is then get in with your children and make this the summer they learn to swim or perfect their front crawl or back stroke.
9. Discover what lives below the waves
Last year we took our children hand Shrimp netting for the first time – a net with a strip of wood at the bottom pushed along the top of the sea bed as we walked along in the waves meant that we got a look at what lived on the sea floor. But you don’t just have to do that buy a snorkel and mask and float along the top taking a peek at what lives below the waves, combine with some spotter cards – buy them locally or for the area you are going to before you go and you can identify what there is – what is the environment like, is it sandy, are there sea grass patches, or even kelp, is there coral reefs or evidence of one being there.
Beaches are fantastic for finding fossils in – if the beach is backed by cliffs chances are that the rocks will have fossils in them, but you aren’t restricted to that – check along the pebbles on the beach are there shark tooth fossils to be found or have others been washed up. If this is something that you are interested in – research the area that you are going to first on the net find where the best beaches are and get a hammer and chisel sorted out that the children and you can use – always take care especially near cliffs and look for advice from the area experts but it’s great fun and discoveries can be made.
If you like our Top 10 ways to learn at the beach this summer – then pop by and check out Erin’s from The Usual Mayhem Top 10 ways to keep kids learning about nature.
This post is part of a School’s Out a top 10 series by KBN – whether you are on your summer break or about to start the winter break there are ideas to stop the slide that happens over the long vacation. Check out the other co-hosts from this week.