Preschool On the Go: Trip to the Aquarium

trip to the aquarium
Image via Mindi Stavish

My family has started making a summer bucket list, and on that list is a trip to the local aquarium. It's been over a year since we last visited, so I'm looking forward to experiencing it with my kids again. There are a lot of wonderful activities you can do before, during, and after a trip to the aquarium to make it a complete learning experience for even small children.  

Check out these ideas to get you started and then share your own ideas in the comments! 

fish
Image via Mindi Stavish

When planning for the trip, the first place I go to is the aquarium website. From the website, I make a list of animals that we will encounter. Our local aquarium website features a trip planner where you can mark all the animals you don't want to miss while there. It's simple to print the entire list with pictures right from the website. If your aquarium does not have this feature, it would be easy to create your own picture list as well. 

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Our local aquarium also has live video stream of a few of the exhibits, as well as live feeding demonstrations of the shark tank. My boys love watching both the video stream and the demonstrations. I will frequently turn on the video stream of the coral-reef tanks before bedtime for a soothing pre-bedtime activity.  

sea life books
Images via amazon

One of my favorite ways to teach my child about new adventures or information is through books. There are many wonderful children's books about aquatic life.  

My favorite activity book is the “Aquarium Show Sticker Book.” The book features an empty aquarium stage and lots of reusable stickers so your child can create their own show. It is a great book to spark conversation about the animals at the aquarium.

Jellyfish: A Day In the Life“: This book features photographs of jellyfish and facts about the species in simple text. 

Deep Sea Dive“: In this lift-the-flap board book, children go on a diving adventure, looking for sea creatures in the ocean.

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Sea Turtles“: This is a wonderful book about the eight different types of sea turtles. The text is easy to understand, and the illustrations are large and colorful.

fish
Image via Mindi Stavish
  • If your schedule allows for it, plan to take your trip during an off peak time. It will be more enjoyable for both you and your child when you don't have to fight your way through crowds.
  • Pack the picture list you made, attaching it to a small clipboard with a pencil. Once you're at the aquarium, help your child go on a sea creature dive with the list, checking them off as you go.
  • Even better yet, have your child help you take pictures of all the fish he or she finds on the list.
  • Language concepts to talk about throughout the day: color, size, texture, fast vs. slow swimmers, eating habits, parts of a fish, and the list goes on.

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sand dollar cookies.jpg
Image via Mindi Stavish

When planning a big outing, one must include snacks, right? Here are some fun snack ideas to refuel your fish-loving little ones.  

1.  Fish for goldfish crackers with pretzel rods and peanut butter. 

2.  Hide Swedish Fish candy in blue jello. (OK, so not the healthiest of snacks.)

3.  Create a sandwich in the shape of a fish with a circle cookie cutter and fruit.

4. Decorate cookies as sand dollars with frosting and almonds.  

crabhandprint
Image via Mindi Stavish
  • Print out pictures of all the animals your child learned about and help them make a collage from the pictures.
  • Make a photo book using an online photo site. You could even make your child his or her own sea animal animal board book through Pint Size Productions.
  • Make a crab handprint picture using washable paint, card stock or a canvas print, glue, and glitter. (example displayed above)
  • Create a jelly fish using a paper plate, paint/markers, crayons, and party streamers.
  • Fill up a toddler pool with water and toy sea animals or bring them into the bathtub and talk about all the different fish types you saw on your trip.  

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What's your child's favorite exhibit at the aquarium?  

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Preschool On the Go: Trip to the Aquarium

Mindi is a working mom with three boys ages 4, 2, and an infant (born June 2013). She spent her first 8 years of her career in Speech-Language Pathology at a Children's Hospital. She currently works with adults and children in home health. The real fun for her happens when she is at home with her boys, chasing them around and pretending to be a super hero. She blogs about life as a working mom at Simply Stavish. Her weekly feature, Words in the Sand, teaches parents how to grow their child's s ... More

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