At the Beach :: Touch Tanks

Tuesdays are beach days this summer. As we have done for years and years now, my tribe gathers and sets up camp for the day on a narrow strip of shore called Shell Beach. Here, our children have grown up together. They've explored every sandy, salty inch of this beach - they've scaled the snail-covered rocks, climbed the low-hanging sea grape trees, rode the gentle Gulf waves, and shaped and re-shaped the powder-fine sand.
Of all the fun they make, however, there's one activity that always unites the entire group (we have 19 children among us) - catching sea creatures! The hunt for creepers, crawlers, and critters is always on, and has garnered all kinds of crabs, non-stinging jellyfish, small fish, sea urchins, sea snails, coquinas, sand fleas, and more! Each week brings something different and new to be found.
Armed with nets, buckets, shovels, and curiosity, the kids seek out their finds, thrilling in both the hunt and the discovery. Once captured, the critters are corralled into buckets where they can be touched, examined, and observed. These on-location "touch tanks" are added to all day long, and then the creatures are gently returned to their habitats, unharmed.
There is so much good in this activity. The kids are immersed in the natural world around them, learning about all kinds of sea life and habitats. They're using critical thinking skills such as strategy and deduction. They're experiencing the benefits of teamwork, and learning to share as a group. And all the while, they're moving their bodies, breathing in the fresh salty air, soaking in the warmth of the sun, and connecting to the powerful rhythms of the sea. It's the kind of fun that long-lasting memories are made of... for kiddos and mamas alike!

Try It!
If you have a beach nearby, or plan to visit one this summer, try creating some "touch tanks" of your own.
  • Bring along a few buckets or portable containers, some nets and beach shovels, and a sense of curiosity.
  • Search the different natural habitats of your beach to discover the varying sea life they house. Look in the water, around rocks, along the shoreline, and in the sand. Take a walk and see what you can discover in different areas.
  • Consider visiting the beach at different times of the day to see what critters can be found.
  • Remember to always return your finds to where they came from!

1 comment:

Rachel G said...

At our local beach we recently found DOZENS of tiny baby hermit crabs - every child in the place was transfixed!