This week we have been discussing going to the beach with children. Below are more fun activities to do at the beach with children. The following ideas about ocean tides and seaweed are from the Kids' Nature Book by Susan Milford.
Mark High and Low Tides:
Check the newspaper or television for a tide table in your region. The tide table will tell you when the two high tides and low tides will occur each day. Let the children use a stick to mark in the sand where the water ends at high tide. Then go back to the same spot at low tide to see how much the water has receded.
Explore a Tide Pool:
As the tides move in and out the receding water leave behind miniature pools of salty water. These tide pools provide the perfect home for sea anemones, crabs, tiny fish, sea stars, sea urchins, and other sea life. Look in tide pools when the tide has just gone out. This is when the little nooks between rocks will be brimming with life. Kneel close to the water, shading the sun with your body, and peer into the water for movement beneath the surface. What signs of life can you detect?
Look for Fiddler Crabs:
Visit a salt marsh at low tide, stop and watch quietly in one spot for a while. You may get to see the flurry of activity as fiddler crabs move through the grass and mud flats.
Look for Plants Growing by the Shore:
The plants you will find along coastal areas may look similar to plants growing inland. There is a major difference, however. The plants in dry sand and wetlands must tolerate salt. The coastal plants must also be able to withstand winds off the ocean. Can the children find any plants that remind them of the garden variety? The beach pea is a fragrant flowering plant. Seaside goldenrod grows down by the ocean. There are beach heathers, sea oats, and plenty of grasses that have adapted to life at the water's edge.
Make a Seaweed Collection:
Plants grow on rocky shores. Seaweed grows right on the rocks. Seaweed is algae and instead of roots they have suction like anchors that hold them to rocks and other solid objects. You can pry one off with a knife or sharp shell for the children to look at. Closest to share are the green seaweeds, followed by brown, and then the red seaweed. Seaweeds can be either hung to dry or pressed. Because they are so bulky when wet, you will need to use plenty of folded newspapers, changed frequently, to dry them. Weight the newspapers with something heavy.
Find these and more great ideas in The Kids' Nature Book by Susan Milord published by Gareth Stevens Publishing.