GO – learn at the beach

Families – especially kids – love to go to the beach. And if you live in the UK then you are lucky enough to never be very far away from a coastline and therefore a beach – apparently you are never more than 70 miles from one. If you live a long way from the seaside though, never fear; beaches can be found on river systems and lakes.

Beaches are great places to learn

Kids will know the sea comes in and it goes out but they may not be aware of the concept of tides. Tides are fascinating (from a science perspective) as well as from a human viewpoint. They dictate when fishing boats can come and go from ports, when lobster nets can be collected and when deciding the best time to head to the beach to picnic, bodyboard, walk the dog or surf.

Here’s a video about tides: How Tides Work

Coupled with the science learning behind tides – how the tides are affected by the gravitational inter-relationship between the Earth, Sun and Moon – is the concept of a tidal timetable: accurate times for high and low tides, calculated well in advance. Not only is it fascinating to find out how tides work and timetables can be predicted, it has safety implications e.g. knowing the time of high tide might prevent you being ‘cut off’ by the approaching tide. Make sure all family members are aware of the tide times for the beach you are visiting, before you get there!

Here’s a link to the UK tide timetables: Tide Tables by BBC Weather

Other things to learn about:

  • Learn about currents (inc. safety).
  • Learn about local sea life, including dangers, e.g. weaver fish, jelly fish

Get active and sensory

FEEL the beach by having a touchy-feely sensory quiz – collect some beach items and put them in an opaque bag. Challenge someone to identify them by touch alone.

Get PHYSICAL and try and stop the sea! Work as a team to build the biggest and most effective sea defence for a sandcastle that you can. See how long you can prevent its advance (warning: your efforts will be fruitless).

VISUALISE the problem of litter pollution by spending just a short amount of time collecting items of non-biodegradable items left on beaches as a result of littering (on land and at sea). Make a sculpture or something else creative that others can see and draw attention to the problem.

Whatever you do when at the beach, keep safe and have fun.

When you get home

Just because you have returned home, it doesn’t mean that your beach-inspired learning has to end. Keep the learning alive – here are a couple of ideas of how to do that:

Lighthouse 5
  • LEARN about lighthouse signals, and explain why each lighthouse has a unique number and rate of flashes.
  • PLAY traditional beach games e.g. volley ball, rounders, non-stop-cricket, kite flying at your local park

These ideas were taken from our book Learning Outdoors with the Meek Family, published by Frances Lincoln.