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5 Ways To Help Kids Discover Their Connection to the Ocean

a young boy standing on a beach

Kids are naturally curious about the world around them. Fueling that curiosity fosters a love of learning that can last for a lifetime. Living in San Diego provides many opportunities to get up close to the ocean and its sea life. Whether you’re supplementing your child’s classroom learning or building a homeschool curriculum, it’s easy to find ways to teach your kids about the ocean.

Go to the Beach Often

What better way to get up close to the ocean than visiting the beach? There’s a lot to see both on and off the shore. Shell collecting is an excellent place to start. Your kids can learn a lot from identifying different types of shells and the animal species they belonged to. And your lessons can go in lots of different directions, including how the ocean sustains life and the kinds of animals that live in the seas. Head over to the tidepools to observe all the creatures that live in the intertidal zone. Be sure to go at low tide so you can see the most active animals including: sea anemones, sea urchins, crabs, snails, sea stars, and mussels. Don’t forget to have your kids observe these animals with their eyes. Please don’t touch or play with these small animals as they can easily get injured. 

Use Picture Books

Giving your kids picture books about the ocean can help accomplish two goals. These books can encourage a love of reading and teach them about the diversity of plants and animals living in our seas. There are many titles available, including ocean books for preschool children. You can definitely find some appropriate for your kids’ age groups and reading levels, but here are some great suggestions to get you started:

  •     National Geographic Readers: Whales — Ideal for readers aged two through five, this book introduces the different types of whales with fun facts, a vocabulary tree, and large color photographs.
  •     The Shark Lady — written for kids aged 4 to 8 years old, this illustrated book brings the tale of scientist Eugenia Clark to life. Clark studied sharks and dove into the oceans to meet them up close — and showed the world just how amazing these creatures are.
  •     Ocean Animals and Their Ecosystems — Readers aged 8 to 12 years old will love this full-color guide to our oceans. Packed with everything from coral reefs to octopi, it offers stunning up-close views of ocean life and the rich biodiversity in our planet’s waters.   

Take Advantage of Online Resources

Hitting the bookstore and the library are both awesome ways for your kids to learn about our oceans. You can also supplement these books with a huge range of online resources geared for children. The U.S. National Ocean Service’s Just for Kids site and National Geographic Kids’ Ocean Portal are a couple of excellent examples. Both are packed with lots of facts about the ocean for kids plus pictures, videos and fun activities.

Aquarium Visits

Remember “show and tell” time when you were in school? Your local aquarium offers wonderful opportunities for kids to see and hear about all the fascinating life that’s in our oceans. Most major metropolitan areas have at least one public aquarium. Here in San Diego, we’re fortunate to have access to many places where kids can see sea life up close. Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute and Living Coast Discovery Center are among the best-known options in the area. 

Whale Watching for Education

Almost everyone loves a field trip. And what better kind of field trip than a San Diego whale watching excursion? Winter is prime whale watching season in San Diego, with boat tours that let avid fans see local whale species in their natural habitats. Schedule one with your kids and turn it into a fun day trip that feeds their imaginations. 

Our oceans offer so much to learn about: a variety of ecosystems and more than 240,000 species of marine life identified so far. Fun-filled books, online resources and field trips can help fuel your kids’ desire to discover what lies under the sea.