Visiting the aquarium can be an exciting activity for kids. Aquariums are often full of neat fish and activities designed to help kids learn more about both ocean and freshwater resources. However, some kids may find themselves getting bored quickly after looking at tank after tank of different fish and other sea creatures. If you’re planning a trip to a local aquarium soon, keep some of these activities in mind to help make the trip more exciting for kids.
Go on a Scavenger Hunt
If you know the types of fish and sea creatures you’ll see at the aquarium (many aquariums list the creatures on their websites), create a scavenger hunt for kids ahead of time. For older kids, write out the names of the things they need to find. For younger kids, use pictures. Include a box next to each name so kids can check the names off as they find them.
If you’re not sure what types of creatures you’ll find at the aquarium, create a more generic scavenger hunt. Some options to include on the list are:
- a big fish
- something with claws
- an orange fish
- something that can breathe outside of water
- something that has tentacles
- something that is spiky
- something that is spotted
To make the scavenger hunt more exciting, give kids a camera and let them take pictures of their finds. That way they’ll also have something to remember the aquarium by.
Feed the Sea Creatures
Many aquariums have offer programs that allow kids to feed some of their sea creatures. Often you have to pay a little extra for the opportunity, but can be worth the extra cost to create a fun memory for kids. Look at your local aquarium’s website or call them to see if they offer feeding opportunities and to determine the feeding times. You’ll want to make sure you arrive early because a limited number of people are allowed to participate in the feedings.
Visit the Touch Tank
Many aquariums also offer touch tanks. Touch tanks are small tanks or pools full of sea creatures that children are allowed to touch. Most aquariums encourage children to be gentle and only use one or two fingers to touch the creatures. At the touch tank, kids may get to touch baby sharks, starfish, sting rays, snails, sea anemones, and other cool creatures. As kids touch the sea creatures, talk with them about how the creatures feel and compare/contrast the characteristics of the different creatures in the touch tank.
Read the Signs
Aquariums are full of informational signs, but people often focus on the fish and other creatures and don’t take the time to read the signs. Your kids may not think the signs are that exciting, but by reading them, they’ll actually learn some cool facts about the sea creatures. Many signs will tell kids the average size of a particular creature and the region where it is usually found. As kids read different signs, they can compare/contrast the characteristics of the different sea creatures they find.
Around the aquarium, you’ll probably find a lot of workers who are ready to answer your questions. Encourage kids to come up with 2-3 questions about the creatures to ask the aquarium workers. This will help kids become more engaged in the process and learn a few things too.
Read about Sea Creatures
After visiting the aquarium, visit your local library to find books about your favorite sea creatures and other books about ocean life. You can also read through the book Sea Animals from iStoryBooks, which highlights some of the more common sea animals kids might see at the aquarium.
What are some ways you have fun when you visit the aquarium with kids? We’d love to hear your ideas!