What to Pack
- Sketch pad
- Scavenger hunt list (see below)
- Dive In! To find an aquarium near you, go to PC Local.
- Make a list. Go online and make a list of your aquarium's special attractions. When you arrive, use the list to conduct a scavenger hunt. Have your child check the creatures off as she finds them.
- Learn by feel. Visit your aquarium's touch tank, where experts will supervise your child handling hermit crabs, sea stars, clams and horseshoe crabs.
- Move it! Watch and compare the different ways undersea creatures move. See how the squid uses jet propulsion? How penguins waddle on land and seem to fly underwater? How fish swish their tails?
- Search for bones. Have your child feel his or your backbone. Point out other vertebrates, animals with an internal skeleton made of bone, such as otters, fish and reptiles. Compare them to the invertebrates, such as lobsters and crabs, which have a hard outer shell.
- Find a fish. Fish are cold-blooded animals that live in water. Most breathe using gills, have a scaly body and move using fins. Grouper, flounder, salmon, trout, catfish, stingrays, eels, and sharks are among the types of fish you might see at an aquarium.
- Meet a mammal. Mammals are warm-blooded and drink milk from their mothers. Mammals you might encounter at an aquarium include sea otters, manatees, sea lions, seals, dolphins and whales.
- Find an amphibian. These are cold-blooded animals that live part of their lives in water and part on land. Examples are frogs, toads, newts and salamanders.
- Discover a reptile. Reptiles are cold-blooded and lay eggs. They are covered with scales and include snakes, lizards, crocodiles, alligators, tortoises and turtles.
- Investigate. Ask your child these questions:
- How do fish breathe underwater?
- What was the longest fish? The biggest? The smallest?
- How do fish hide? How about turtles? Snakes?
- What colors do you see?
- Can you name some scaly animals? Furry ones? Ones with lots of teeth?
- What was the funniest animal? The scariest?
- Can you hop like a frog? Waddle like a penguin? Crab-walk like a you-know-who?
- How are penguins different from other birds?
- What's your favorite fish or animal at the aquarium? Why?
- Record your findings. Have kids sketch and take notes about their favorite animal at the aquarium.
- Read all about it. Check out Hooray for Fish by Lucy Cousins, A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle, Manfish by Jennifer Berne, My Visit to the Aquarium by Aliki and Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone.
Bonus Explorer Activity Fill the bathtub and experiment to see what floats and what doesn't. Try a toy boat, a sponge, a wooden spoon, a penny. Roll a piece of clay in a ball. Does it float? Now flatten it into a boat shape. What happens now? Can your child float? After the bath, play Go Fish!
Check out the Dawn Wildlife Champions program for free lesson plans and tools to explore the issue of oil spills, and lots of ways for your kid to get involved in wildlife education!