Explore a little science at the beach with these fun activities!
A day at the beach is what summer dreams are made of when you're a kid -- sandcastles, seashells and splashing in the waves.
But there's also quite a bit of learning that can be woven into your beach visit too.
So grab a blanket & some sunscreen and join us as we explore a little science at the seashore.
5 Awesome Science at the Beach Activities
A visit to the beach can be a fun learning experience.
Just curling up on the towel with a great book will get kids reading and inspired to get out and explore their surroundings.
We've included some hands-on science ideas along with a few great books that kids will enjoy! You'll also find affiliate links for the books so you can learn more about each title.
Kids love animals so search for some fun friends that call the beach 'home'.
There are usually 3 areas for habitat areas at the beach:
- in the water,
- on the sand and
- in the grasslands that surround the beach.
You can also check out tidepools as a habitat too if you're in a coastal area.
Ask your kids to identify the different animals they see during your visit. Kids LOVE to take photos of the wildlife they see so I highly suggest having a waterproof case pouch for your smartphone -- keeps the water & sand away from it!
A few examples of what you might see include:
• Grassland -- seagulls, crabs, sand pipers and other shore birds, snakes
• Sand -- crabs & other crustaceans, insects, sea turtles if your lucky
• Water -- fish (and depending on where you are) seals, jellies, sea turtles, whales - I wouldn't mention sharks if I were you ;)
One of our favorite books about beach is Clam-I-Am!: All About the Beach -- kids will love learning along with the Cat in the Hat!
Also be sure to see the Beach & Ocean Habitat projects in our mega list of habitat activities too!
The Science of Ocean Tides
Remember when your parents warned you not to build your sandcastle too close to the water?
And if you didn't heed the warning, the tide would come in and wipe away all your work.
Yes, we had some sniffles on one trip due to the tide.
Try this activity to explore Tidal Changes:
Teach your kids about how the tides change by marking a spot on the beach during your visit.
During a lower tide, place a stick in the sand on the beach (in an area not covered by water). As the day goes on, have the kids check on the stick. They might come back to you exclaiming "Someone moved the stick into the water!" if you stay at the beach for a few hours.
Explain that the gravitational pull from the moon is what causes the water to rise on the beach (high tide) or retreat back toward the ocean (low tide). High tide occurs when the moon is directly overhead of the beach and also when it is on the opposite side of the earth. So high tide will occur twice each day approximately 12 hours apart.
You can find the exact time for high tide and low tide for the beach you are visiting online and some beaches will also post the tidal charts near the lifeguard stations or beach house.
Play with Sand
Here's where sensory meets science -- digging & building on the beach!
What happens when you try to build a sandcastle with dry sand?
And what if you add too much water to the sand?
Take along some sand building toys and have your kids try it out to see what combination of sand and water is the best for building a beautiful structures.
There's also physics involved in sandcastles --
How tall can you stack buckets of sand?
Is it easier to use taller buckets or shorter buckets?
Lots of things to experiment with as you build.
To learn more about sand, how it's formed and how it gets to the beach, browse through Jump Into Science: Sand.
Find Some Seashells
Kids can learn quite a bit from their seashell collection.
- Discuss the size and shape of various shells and who might have lived there
- Talk about the color and how that might help the animal to hide if they are in danger
- Compare thickness and feel of the shells
- Try to identify your shells -- here's a great guide to seashells to help you
- And of course, put a shell to your ear to see what you hear
If they want to start a collection, here are a few tips for starting & organzing a mini nature collection.
And a great book to read is What Lives in a Shell? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science).
If you're looking for a few more books, be sure to visit 10 Books for a Day at the Beach!
More Fun at the Beach
Make sure to visit our co-host Fantastic Fun & Learning to see what beach fun they are sharing this week.
You might also enjoy these activities:
July 4th Books - Patriotic Fun
Summer - Summertime Fun
Oceans - Life Under the Sea
And be sure to join us for more fun activities during
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