Going on vacation is wonderful–you escape from the everyday stresses of ringing phones and errand running. You can keep learning with your kids, though, even if you are on vacation. Kids love learning and most will see these activities as fun rather than work.
We spent a week at the beach with my son Charlie who has special needs. The activities we did were pretty simple because of his physical limitations, but there are all sorts of fun ways to incorporate learning into your trips and I’ll include some more suggestions at the bottom of this post.
One of the simplest and easiest things you can do is collect sea shells.
Don’t just pick them up, though, observe them. Talk about different sizes and colors. You might try sorting them into different piles. I sorted these sea shells into piles based on their shape in front of Charlie. Then we guided him through counting the different piles. If your child can speak, have them count out loud with you–we counted out loud for Charlie since he’s non verbal.
Sand writing is another great way to take advantage of your surroundings. I’ve blogged about the benefits of multi-sensory activities before. Here, mother nature is giving you the perfect pallet for practicing writing. Guide your child through writing letters in the sand, taking time to tell them the name of the letter and the sounds that it makes. We enjoyed showing Charlie the letters of his name and let mother nature do the erasing for us!
As a final activity, you can teach your child about simple machines with a little purchase from the discount bins at Target. For $1.50 I got this “sand sifter.” You pour sand in and then watch as it spins the wheels below. You can talk about how the weight of the sand makes the wheels spin as it falls through the machine. Something as cheap and easy as this is really the beginning of much bigger scientific topics like physics. I was always lousy at physics–maybe if my mom had gotten me a sand sifter I wouldn’t be in the shape I am today. Kidding!
There are many activities you can do with your children at the beach. I chose simple ones because of Charlie’s disability. Here are a few more ideas you can try if your child is better at talking, walking, standing, etc.:
You can observe local birds and talk about their characteristics. For example, sea gulls have webbed feet, which makes them better adapted to the water.
You can experiment with what types of items sink in the pool or ocean, and which float.
With older children, you can talk about endangered species–our area has brown pelicans and sea turtles which are both endangered species.
Here are some great books about the beach you may enjoy.
Stella, Star of the Sea by Marie Louise Gay is a little long for my easily-distracted child, but I absolutely loved it and we’ll definitely be trying it again when he’s a little older. It’s all about a little girl named Stella and her adventures at the beach–some of them traditional and some of them less so (think riding a seahorse). The illustrations are gorgeous too.
Seashore Baby by Elise Broach with its ryhming rhythm and liftable flaps was more Charlie’s style. Definitely for younger children, but really cute.
Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.