Talk about sensory overload. We’re on Cape Cod for an annual vacation with my husband’s family. This morning we went exploring on the beach during low tide. What an amazing time for toddlers.
Our son sprinting out to the beach, running and kicking through the warm, sea life filled tide pools I imagine will be a vivid picture in my mind for many years. I sat back with our six month old watching as my husband and our two year old began what decidedly can only be a lifetime of adventure as they chased sea gulls, eyed hermit crabs and observed several sea gulls devouring a skeletal fish.
If you live anywhere near an ocean or can get to an aquarium or science center, watch in an amazement as your child goes wild in excitement and curiosity.
A few ideas to add a little structure around the hands on learning and exploring:
- Let’s find the craziest, coolest looking critter: we’d find a cool shell then toss it for a cool rock or fish skeleton, etc
- Crack the crab shell: from big to medium to small to tiny, many crab shells (that have long since left their owners) are delicate, fun to crack and smash
- Hermit crab hunt: who can find the hermit crab carrying the most sea ‘stuff’ on his shell?
- Starfish, where are you? Go looking for starfish, sea anemones and more in tide pools and under rocks
- Bucket List: collect all sorts of sea ‘stuff’ to analyze later or to recreate a beach in a tub at home
- Stick and Sand: wet, hard sandy surface beach is great for drawing. So go find the perfect stick and let your imagination go wild. Draw shapes and designs to make a game (one of my favorites is a giant twirl maze) and/or write the ABCs or your child’s name
- Creating a beach themed sensory tub at a home is a wonderful way to bring the beach to you and recreate a scene of hands on exploration and learning.
Don’t forget to carry the beach with you through reading! Our favorite children’s beach books in the world are:
- Eric Carle’s ‘A House for Hermit Crab’
- Maggie Smith’s ‘Counting Our Way to Maine’
- Robert McCloskey’s ‘One Morning in Maine’