See You by the Seashore
Sun and sand, shells and swells…it’s time for the beach! Wherever you are in the North America, you can probably find a beach or shoreline to explore. Your thoughts may first turn to the beaches along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts or the Gulf of Mexico. But you can also get a great shore experience along lakes and rivers, both large and small. My explorations this week are taking me to the Monterey Bay in California.
I can already feel my toes sinking into the wet sand! I love to walk for hours scanning the shoreline and sky for birds. Water birds are some of the easiest birds to identify because they are relatively large and they tend to stay in view for a longer period of time than other birds (especially songbirds that flit and hide in the treetops).
The legs, feet, and bills of water birds give you great clues about what the birds eat and how far out in the water they search for food. Sanderlings have short legs and bills. They peck for food at the water’s edge. Willets, with their longer legs, can go farther out into the water. Whimbrels probe in the sand with curved bills that are the same shape as a crab’s burrow.
If you can’t get to the beach to see shorebirds, I invite you to get your feet wet with The BLUES Go Birding at Wild American Shores. “It takes kids to exotic locations on the hunt for the continent’s most amazing seabirds, all served up with a nice dollop of humor.” (Scott Weidensaul)
Inside: What’s Your Wingspan
This activity, What’s Your Wingspan, gives children an experience about the relative sizes of different birds by comparing their wingspans. Although the directions are for a classroom setting, this is a fun activity to do at home on a rainy day—all you need is string. The same directions can apply to all of the books in the BLUES Go Birding series.
Source: The BLUES Go Birding Clubhouse
Outside: Shell Sorting
Looking for shells is another favorite beach activity. I suggest using Seashells by the Seashore by Marianne Berkes to help children learn to identify the shells they collect. Once they have an assortment of shells, spread them out on the sand and sort them by size, shape, or color. Or, they can divide their shells into two major groups—univalves and bivalves. “Uni” means one, and univalves are mollusks that move on one foot and have one shell. Examples are periwinkles, olive shells, and whelks. “Bi” means two, and bivalves have two shells hinged together. The mollusk lives between the two halves, which snap shut when danger threatens. Oysters, mussels, and scallops are bivalves.
Source: Seashells by the Seashore by Marianne Berkes
- After a long day at the beach, go to sleep with Ancient Rhymes: A Dolphin Lullaby by John Denver. It takes you under the water as a baby dolphin is born.
- Use beach sand to make a sand candle.
- Learn about ocean animals and discover other ocean games and activities at National Geographic for Kids.
- Join a girl with a sandy pail as she introduces you to the ocean’s food web in This is the Sea That Feeds Us by Robert F. Baldwin.
- Say, “She sells seashells by the seashore,” ten times really fast. Could you do it? Try more tongue twisters for kids.