Beach Vacations with Kids Are Rich with Learning

August 23, 2013 Tips & Advice

Just back from Maine, it was an amazing trip, and to our family’s delight scientific wonders abound throughout New England. The region has a wide array of museums that are great for kids. Beaches also offer unique opportunities for exploration – tidal pools (my kids voted these the coolest), lighthouses, cliffs and rock formations as well as local marine life. Check some of these out if you’re headed this way:

Liven Up Those Pit Stops: As parents of small children know, frequent stops are critical for everyone’s mental health. When you pull over at rest stops encourage your kids to explore the local visitors’ map. Reading maps is an important skill kids can develop at an early age. You don’t have to turn your children into cartographers – just ask them to point out a few of the local features and tell you what sounds interesting. Go over a few simple points – What is the map key? What is the compass rose for? What are the basic directions – Never Eat Soggy Waffles has been a useful mnemonic in our house. See if your kids can think of their own device. Once you’re oriented, hit the road and check out some of these sites:

Exploring Children’s Museums: Too many to mention here, but a few must-sees:

  • Stepping Stones Museum for Children – Norwalk, CT – Lots of learning opportunities for kids through hands-on exhibits. Includes a hands-on Energy lab, where kids will learn about wind, solar and even geothermal energy. steppingstonesmuseum.org/
  • New England Museum of Science – Boston, MA – A great place for toddlers and older siblings alike. The museum is nearly 100 years old, but has undergone several renovations in recent years. It’s a great place for your kids to get the wiggles out after a long car ride. http://www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/
  • Providence Children’s Museum, RI – Consistently ranked among the Top 20 children’s museums in America. Toddlers will love donning a smock and playing in the water ways exhibit. Kids 6 and up will enjoy the Bone Zone, a fun and informative look at the human skeleton. www.childrenmuseum.org/

Discovering the Atlantic: Talk to your kids about what’s unique to New England beaches – Why are the beaches more rocky than sandy? Why is the water colder here? What kind of fish can you find here? Is a whale a fish? Why not? See if you and your kids can find a tidal pool. Sea stars, barnacles, mussels, anemones, crabs, and young lobsters live in the intertidal zone and are exposed twice each day by the withdrawing tide.

We found great tidal pools on the Wonderland Trail in Acadia National Park in Maine. For younger children, check out Bar Island Sand Bar. Be sure to wear walking shoes with good gripping soles. For more information – http://www.nps.gov/acad/planyourvisit/tidepooling.htm

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A great tool for parents with young travelers is ‘The New England Guide & Activity Book’, by Ed and Roon Frost. Non-readers can enjoy the mazes and coloring pages. Older kids (and parents) can read up on the history and nature of the area which includes “Where to Go With Children”.

Our family loved exploring the museums and coastline. If you’ve been to the region, tell us about your favorite spots and share photos https://www.facebook.com/DionoUSA

Until then, safe and happy travels.

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