Friday, November 26, 2010

Field Trip to the Beach

If you live anywhere near the OCEAN, it's a great field trip to learn about animals.

Bring your usual science tools: 
  • notebook and pencil for sketching and labeling
  • magnifying lens
  • binoculars
  • camera 
  • plastic bags, pails, or small buckets to take home some specimens
  • Ocean Field Guide (can be borrowed from the library) 


    • This would be a good time to teach/review the fact that lots of ocean animals no not have backbones (invertebrates).
    • Depending on the ages of the children, extend their previous learning about animal classifications by introducing all or some of the following invertebrae animal classes.
    • Mollusks:  octopus, clams, snails, scallops, squid
    • Crustaceans: lobster, crab, shrimp
    • Echinoderms: starfish (sea stars), brittle star, sand dollar, sea urchin
    • Coelenterates: coral, jellyfish
    • Porifera: sponges (This is when you can talk about Sponge Bob!
    • During low tide walk along the beach to find animal shells and try to identify some ocean animals. Look for animal footprints and try to identify the animals that made the footprints. 
    • (A trip to the dollar store is also a place to pick up shells, etc. if the beach doesn't have much to offer on the day you visit.)

          • Also for the younger kids, the library has lots of picture books on ocean animals: lobsters, clams, starfish, crab, etc.
          • You will probably see some animals with a backbone (vertebrates) at the beach also! You might want to bring other field guides with you for the older kids.

          Follow up math/science lesson
          • Younger kids could sort the shells by size, color, shape, weight, texture (rough or smooth), etc.
          • Older children could sort and label the shells using animal classification and the field guides.

          Here's a FREE video on Ocean Habitats from Brain Pop Jr.

          Here's a FREE video on Giant Squid  from Brain Pop.
          Click here: Giant Squid


          1. There are some great ideas for beach field trip activities here; however, I am very unimpressed with the suggestion of going to the dollar store for shells if the beach doesn't have much. First of all, shells that are sold at dollar stores are often collected by killing the animals that lived in those shells so that their homes can be sold to tourists. Secondly, it is unlikely that you will find shells that represent the wildlife that naturally inhabits the particular beach you are at and you will be giving children the wrong idea about what types of animals live in their local environment.

            1. Thanks for your comments and opinions. Where would you suggest that parents and teachers go to find inexpensive shells to share with their children?



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