Seashore Activities for Clubs and Schools
This page is for primary school staff and club leaders. Here we offer a variety of ideas and activities for children from nursery to primary 7, links are provided for useful resources and the majority are all available to use for free. This page can be a great resource for finding activities to help teach pupils about the seashore and it's wildlife. Some ideas included are from suggestions of local rangers, and can be the perfect follow up to their events.
To make things even easier we have broken these down into the eight curriculum areas from the Curriculum for Excellence. You can find the list of these in our two contents lists below and use the links to get straight to what you want to see and use. We have also provided a few topic ideas, which can help you focus on a particular subject or the seashore topic as a whole.
All activities on this page are in relation to the core topic of seashore biodiversity within the Highland region of Scotland. However, these can be adapted for other coastal regions across the UK.
Things you should know:
The coast is an amazing resource, and in Scotland we are very lucky to have access to the coast from almost anywhere. Using the coast we can teach children about basic geography, such as the formation of rock, sand and the water cycle. We can also teach them about sea life in a fun way with rock-pools and day trips. However, you can also provide fun activities within the classroom to support an outing to the coast or if you cannot acess the coast with ease. These experiences provide you with both options.
What can you do at the coast?
- Take children out to explore the rock pools and try to identify fish, crabs and other creatures. This can be supported with identification charts and guides available from our resources page here. These can be laminated and taken out in all types of weather and can be reused again and again. Safety is always important so check your chosen location prior to taking the children to ensure the area is safe and child friendly.
- The Highlands has a variety of different types of beaches, they can be made up of sand, coral or rocks. Using pictures of these types of coasts can help the children visualise how each looks. Collect some sand, coral and rocks from local beaches (if you cannot reach them you can source them from local shops). Explore with children the differences between each and ask the children how each feels.
- You can use a rock and the sand to explain the process cycle from one stage to the next. Large rocks broken down into smaller ones, then broken down into sand. You can then explain how the sand is compressed into rocks again over a long period of time and how the process starts again. You can also get the children to filter the sand and see if they can see the separate particles within it and identify which may have come from rocks and which from shells (this may require a magnifying glass). For early years you can use a story to support this. Click here for the link.
What can you do inside/at school?
- Create a beach feeling or follow up on an earlier trip to the coast with this indoor activity. This will require some arts and crafts using junk modelling to promote reusing of discarded/unwanted items. Using photographs of rock pools to help you replicate them with your unwanted resources. Preferably you would want to use tubs and/or boxes to create the pools. These can then be connected using cardboard or if you have time (and are willing to get messy) then using papier-mache to create the body of rock connecting the pools. Using papier-mache will give a more natural look of smooth but misshapen rock.
When the model is dried it can be painted to look like the rock that they have visited or using photographs to assist the children. You compliment the rock pool model by including a selection of model creatures to live in the pools. This can be toys or models made in class. Using pictures of the different creatures that are found in rock pools, you can involve the children in working out which belongs in the pools and which do not. However, you can adapt this depending on what age group you are providing this experience for. For example, for an older and more capapble group ask them to do it from memory of what they have learned about the different creatures.
Crustaceans are great creatures for primary children to learn about, they are easily found and recognisable on a day out at the beach, as well as being highly interesting for them to learn about. Crustaceans are a large group of anthropoids (which are creatures that have an exoskeleton), these include; crabs, lobsters, shrimp and barnacles.
What can you do on crustaceans?
- When crabs grow they shed their shell in order to grow a new larger home, using this activity you can demonstrate how a crab sheds its shell when it becomes too big for it. Taking an egg box (or a similar box if any children have egg allergies), make it into a crab, keeping the opening side at the back. You could use rolled up newspaper for the legs and claws. When your crab is ready you can provide a balloon to each child and get them to place it inside the crab with the inflatable hole slightly hanging out. Then inflate the balloon, preferably with a pump for safety and so the children can see what is happening. The balloon will inflate and open the box, when it has opened the box completely pull the balloon out. This demonstrates how crabs emerge from their shells.
Scotland's climate is affected by the Gulf Stream, which flows across the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico. This reaches mainly the West coast and can affect the wildlife we find there, such as palm trees, which are notably found in warmer climates. The current warms the air above it, which helps our climate stay warmer and protects us from severe temperatures.
There are many currents that flow across the world and they all have their effects on the climate and the transition of fish migrating. You can find this information on the internet and use pictures to locate the currents that surround Scotland and where they come from around the world.
There is a large variety of wildlife on the coast and in the sea. We have dolphins, whales, otters, seals and a few sharks in the Highlands seas, plus a number of different species of fish. On the shore, you will be able to find creatures such as crabs, sea worms, periwinkles, and small creatures such as sand hoppers.
You are also likely to see wildlife in the sky, due to large variety of birds we have around our coast. These include a range of different species of seagulls, hawks and other birds of prey which are hard to spot so have cameras or binoculars at the ready as they are quick.
What can you do on wildlife?
- Pods of dolphins, how do they stay together in dark water and at depth where visibility is poor? Get the class in a large open space and ask them to close their eyes. Have two to three adults with whistles, rattles or drums, or select children to do this job if you are teaching alone. Get the group to move around and the adults to move around the group making sounds to prevent the group reaching obstacles, such as walls. - Idea and permission of use given by Janet Ullman.
- Matching dolphin pods. Have four colours each in different corners, these could be written words or just colours for younger years. Using the same four colours create a selection on small pieces of paper, enough to create pairs or trios in each colour, and ask the children to take one each, but not to tell anyone else their colour. Explain to the children that when you say go they need to shout out their colours and match up with another child with the same colour. When they have matched they should move to the corner of their colour, making pods. A great way for practicing colours in a fun way. - Idea and permission of use given by Janet Ullman.
The tides effect the world more then we may immediately know. They supply a great chance for children to learn about the movement of the Earth and the solar system at large, while giving a great opportunity for them to learn about the water cycle and the way beaches work bt also why we should not litter. Tides can also be a great opportunity to learn about time, this can be done through using high and low tide timetables and using clocks for the children to change each day, to match the correct tide time.
What can you do on tides?
- Take a group of children out to the coast and using ping-pong balls that are painted a bright red in waterproof paint, get them to put the ball in the water and ask them to monitor how many times the ball comes in and out of the surf. You can explain that this movement of the ball reveals the tide. By going at an opportune time in the tide change the children can see the difference in pace of the ball moving back and forth as the tide slows and quickens. For elder years take stop watches, clip-boards and pens and ask the groups to chart the exact time change.
"I have experienced the energy and excitement of presenting/performing for audiences and being part of an audience for other people's presentations and performances." (Early, First and Second level)
With a group of children you can create a story for the children to perform, this could be by using a seashore based story or poem for the children to act out, such as the rainbow fish stories or from our book "Beside the Sea". This is a great way to get all the children involved in the subject as children often love performing for their peers and having roles and responsibilities. You could also further this by encouraging the children to work in groups to create a performance about a particular interest within the topic. This will give them a challenge and allow them to strengthen their knowledge and collaboration with their peers encourages a reinforcement of the knowledge.
- For older children in the second level you could ask them to create a project or presentation on a particular section within the topic, such as; crabs, tides, the variety of local fish, currents etc. This could be done within class and at home to continue their learning and development. Giving a few set goals for them to complete within the topic will help to give them a baseline and also support children who may struggle with what to include. This could be an introduction, why they are interested in this topic, facts and you could encourage them to include artwork to represent their findings. This is a great way for children to further their learning through personal research and can help include parents in their learning. If you choose to do presentations it will benefit the children's ICT skills by using PowerPoints to present their findings and support their confidence presenting work to others.
"I have the freedom to discover and choose ways to create images and objects using a variety of materials" (Early level)
or - "I have the opportunity to choose and explore a range of media and technologies to create images and objects, discovering their effects and suitability." (First level)
or - "I can create and present work that shows developing skill in using the visual elements and concepts." (Second level)
Create a beach feeling or follow up on an earlier trip to the coast with this indoor activity. This will require some arts and crafts using junk modelling to promote reusing of discarded/unwanted items. Using photographs of rock pools to help you replicate them with your unwanted resources. Preferably you would want to use tubs and/or boxes to create the pools. These can then be connected using cardboard or if you have time (and are willing to get messy) then using papier-mache to create the body of rock connecting the pools. Using papier-mache will give a more natural look of smooth but misshapen rock.
When the model is dried it can be painted to look like the rock that they have visited or using photographs to assist the children. You compliment the rock pool model by including a selection of model creatures to live in the pools. This can be toys or models made in class. Using pictures of the different creatures that are found in rock pools, you can involve the children in working out which belongs in the pools and which do not. However, you can adapt this depending on what age group you are providing this experience for. For example, for an older and more capable group ask them to do it from memory of what they have learned about the different creatures.
When crabs grow they shed their shell in order to grow a new larger home, using this activity you can demonstrate how a crab sheds its shell when it becomes too big for it. Taking an egg box (or a similar box if any children have egg allergies), make it into a crab, keeping the opening side at the back. You could use rolled up newspaper for the legs and claws. When your crab is ready you can provide a balloon to each child and get them to place it inside the crab with the inflatable hole slightly hanging out. Then inflate the balloon, preferably with a pump for safety and so the children can see what is happening. The balloon will inflate and open the box, when it has opened the box completely pull the balloon out. This demonstrates how crabs emerge from their shells.
Sand pictures are always a favourite, but can be very messy so you may want to use trays for this activity. You will need bowls of sand, paper and PVA or glue sticks. Ask the children to draw a picture with glue of something to do with the seashore or its wildlife, you could use images for inspiration. When they have completed their drawing ask them to pour on the sand and spread it over the glue ensuring it's all covered. When the glue is covered pour the excess sand back into the bowl. Then leave to dry. If you want to add a variety of colours you can use coloured sand which is available from most crafts stores or mix powder paint with plain sand to create the desired colours.
A great activity to promote recycling is making tissue paper fish. You will need unwanted newspaper, a selection of different coloured tissue paper, sticky-tape and PVA. Make a small ball with newspaper (about the size of a tennis ball), and wrap a flat sheet of newspaper around it, then twist the paper to form a tail. Attach a small amount of sticky-tape around the twist to secure it. Cut a triangle from the tail end to make the two points of the tail. Now the children can decorate their fish. Spread the PVA onto the fish and place small segments of the tissue paper onto the glue coated areas until the entire fish is covered. You can then glue on eyes or wait for the fish to dry and draw them on. - Idea and permission of use given by Janet Ullman.
- Mobiles and hanging decorations are a great way to add to the classroom, especially if you are covering a particular topic. For this you will need card, string, a hole punch, scissors and colouring tools such as pens or crayons. For the mobile ask the children to draw a selection of creatures from the seashore, such as crabs and fish. When they have finished ask them to cut them out and colour in both sides. To make the support for the mobile they will need to cut out a circle, it may be easier for the children to draw around a bowl for this. They will then need to cut out a selection of different lengths of string, one for each drawing.
Once all the parts are ready they will need to hole punch each drawing with one corresponding hole for each in the circle, ensuring the holes in the circle are equally spaced to the mobile is balanced. An adult may need to supervise and support this part. The children can then thread the string into the holes and tie a knot to hold it. Once all parts are tied the adult will need to make a hole in the centre of the circle with scissors or a pencil and tie the main support in place. Hanging decorations can be done similarly and be made as singular items instead. This could include coastal birds to then be "flying" around the class room.
- "I can create a range of visual information through observing and recording from my experiences across the curriculum." (Early level)
or - "Through observing and recording from my experiences across the curriculum, I can create images and objects which show my awareness and recognition of detail." (Second level)
- To create a display about the biodiversity the children have learned about, such as the types of wildlife they have seen, they can recreate these using a variety of materials. This can then be turned into a wall display for all the children to see and can be used to promote literacy through encouraging the children to write labels for each. This display will be a useful tool to remind the children of what they have learned.
- For elder years ICT can be used to create a leaflet or poster. This could be used alongside a presentation or as a standalone task. This could be used to promote important topics such as recycling to keep our shores clean and promote an understanding of what certain organisations do and the reasons they exist, such as the whale and dolphin conservationists. This activity helps develop ICT skills while providing visual information for the children to read and enjoy.
This could also be created using different resources by making posters with colouring tools. This could be used as group activities, and to create bigger posters for them to present to the rest of the class.
- "Representing my class, school and/or wider community encourages my self-worth and confidence and allows me to contribute to and participate in society." (Early, First and Second level)
- Trips can further the children's knowledge through personal experience and observations in another environment. Trips to local seashores would benefit with this topic. Here the children can see, feel, hear and smell what it is like to be on the coast. These senses can be used in other parts of the curriculum and allow the children to have a better understanding of what they are learning about.
If you are able to book a trip with local rangers the children will benefit more in their learning as the rangers will be able to answer their questions accurately and provide the children with more knowledge. They will also be able to show and explain parts of the environment and its wildlife, providing knowledge which the children will be able to take back to class with them, and then expand on with further activities.
Tasks like this could be used to promote responsible citizens through beach cleaning with litter pickers. This can lead to explaining why we need to clean beaches and then interlink with making posters/leaflets on recycling and keeping shores clean.
These trips can also be used with "I know and can demonstrate how to travel safely." (Early, First and Second level)
- "Together we enjoy handling, tasting, talking and learning about different foods, discovering ways in which eating and drinking may help us grow and keep healthy." (Early level)
or - "When preparing and cooking a variety of foods, I am becoming aware of the journeys which foods make from source to consumer, their seasonality, their local availability and their sustainability." (First and Second level)
- The fishing industry is very important in Scotland and fish are full of vitamins and are great for our health. While learning about sea life this is a perfect opportunity to go into why they are good for us and what types of fish you can eat from local sources. The best way to start with this is to talk to the children about the process from the source to their plate. This includes how the fishermen catch the fish and what happens to them before we can eat them. Such as where do fish fingers come from?
- The children could have the opportunity to taste a variety of fish or one they have not tried previously. A great way to do this would be a trip to a local restaurant or fish market or smokies, where the children can try the fish. This would require that no children had fish allergies.
If this is not possible then you can discuss with the children that it is recommended that we eat two portions of fish a week. This could be used as homework for children to try different fish or to eat two portions a week. You could provide simple and cheap recipes for guardians to make with their children.
- "Through listening to and joining in with story telling, games, rhymes and songs, I have explored and experimented with sound patterns, words and phrases in Gaelic." (Early level)
or - "I can take part in play activities and games linked to simple poems, familiar stories and short role plays, and pronounce familiar Gaelic words and phrases." (First level)
or - "I have selected and can read, on my own and with others, a variety of straightforward texts of different types, which may have been adapted." (Second level)
- Schools across the Highlands will have received our "Seashore Families" card game. This is a fun game for children and can promote Gaelic. All the cards have pictures of different biodiversity and both the English and Gaelic names for them. This can give the children the opportunity to read the Gaelic term and connect it to the English.
- We also released a wonderful book, "Beside the Sea, art, stories and poems from schools across the Highlands". This book is filled with wonderful work and includes Gaelic poems and stories which are a good way for the children to hear the language and learn from it within the context of this topic.
For more detail on these, please check out our resources page here.
- "I have explored and experimented with Gaelic words and phrases." (Early level)
or - "I can write familiar words and simple phrases in Gaelic." (First level)
- To further the children's learning they will need to play with the language. This can be done by using printed names of the biodiversity in both English and Gaelic. They can then be asked to match the names to the pictures of the creature. For a further challenge if the children are showing a greater ability then they can be asked to match the words together without the pictures.
Literacy and English
- "I use signs, books or other texts to find useful or interesting information and I use this to plan, make choices or learn new things." (Early level)
- You will find on our publications and resources page a selection of useful posters, identification sheets, guides and recommended books. The posters are full of information and a great way for children to learn new knowledge on the topics. These are available to download as PDF files or you can order them. The identification sheets contain useful information about creatures commonly found on shores and would be great to laminate and take on trips. Here, children will be able to learn new words as it also contains their Latin names and these words can boost their vocabulary.
The books are a great source of information, including "Beside the Sea" which was created using works from children across Highland schools. It includes poems and stories which can help benefit the children's knowledge of the sea and its surroundings.
For more details on these, please check out our resources page here.
- "I enjoy creating texts of my choice and I regularly select subject, purpose, format and resources to suit the needs of my audience." (First level)
or - "I can convey information, describe events, explain processes or combine ideas in different ways." (Second level)
- To fulfil this outcome you can use what the children have learned across the seashore topic to write a short story or report on what they have learned. This can be done in a project based style and can include precise information of what they have enjoyed most or cover the topic as a whole, this can be done however you want to direct their learning.
- You can create a poem or short story about their senses such as what they feel, hear or smell at the coast. This is great with their emotional development, understanding of their senses and use of describing language.
- "I have explored numbers, understanding that they represent quantities, and I can use them to count, create sequences and describe order." (Early level)
or - "Through explaining number patterns, I can recognise and continue simple number sequences and can explain the rule I have applied" (First level)
or - "Having explored more complex number sequences, including well-known named number patterns, I can explain the rule used to generate the sequence, and apply it to extend the pattern." (Second level)
- A great way to keep the topic going and include maths is using sea based items to create sequences. This could include using different types of fish to create a pattern/sequence, i.e. 'salmon, cod, salmon, ...? what comes next'. For children in nursery it would be recommended to keep to fish using print outs in different colours, i.e. 'red fish, blue fish, red fish, ... what comes next?' You could also include real items such as shells and parts of seaweed, if you are unable to source these then pictures to represent them will work just as well.
- Numbered fish is a great game for practicing order. Using printouts of fish with numbers ranging from your target learning for the children, you can then guide the children into ordering them correctly. This can become a maths game during classes for children to use during free play or working independently, to improve their counting and ordering. You could introduce a variety of different ranges for different capabilities and strengths. Another use would be to create these into a number line for nurseries using the 1,2,3,4,5 rhyme.
- For higher level pupils you can still use the numbered fish but you can take away certain segments and encourage the children to fill in the blanks. This could also be used with simple multiplication to create more of a challenge and allow the children to explain their thought process. These could be created as worksheets for homework if desired.
- Higher multiplication can be used on the fish and the use of number patterns the children have learned or are planning to learn. Using a selection of numbers you can ask the children to separate them into the correct times tables.
- "I am aware of how routines and events in my world link with times and seasons, and have explored ways to record and display these using clocks, calendars and other methods." (Early level)
- Tides change throughout the year and you can find your local tide timetable online. You can use this to practice using moveable clocks for the children to change the time to the correct tides. This could be done as an activity or use it during the study of the topic, with children on a rota to change the clocks to the correct times of that day. This can be done with using two 12 hour clocks, one for the out tide time and one for the in tide time. Having a chart with the dates and times in either 24 hours or am/pm for the children to read and replicate on the clocks.
- The life cycle of fish is affected by the seasons. By researching the local fish of your area you can go into the information of the life cycles of each breed. Find out when they lay their eggs and what they do during other seasons. This can also be replicated for the local birds and other wildlife. You can get the children to choose one of the species they have studied and make a basic season calendar of their yearly cycles. This can also be accompanied with drawings or photographs they have researched.
- "I have experimented with everyday items as units of measure to investigate and compare sizes and amounts in my environment, showing my findings to others." (Early level)
- Using the coast as your topic, use shells to compare sizes with each other, also using balancing scales to measure the difference of each ones weight. This could be done with a variety of shells providing different results for the children to record and present to others. It could also be turned into a game in which the children have to predict the weight, i.e. 'is this shell heavier than the other?'
- Using the coast as the topic and how different coastlines vary, use sand and stones to compare weights. Using the process of rocks turning into sand and how sand is then compressed back into rocks. Using balancing scales you can place in a singular rock and pour in the sand until the scale is balanced, this will show how much sand is produced from one rock. You can then increase the amounts of rocks placed in or changing the sizes to show comparison.
- "In movement, games and using technology I can use simple directions and describe positions." (Early level)
- Using the food chains of selected wildlife on the coast you can ask the children where one is located over another. For example, 'is the whale above or below the fish?'
- Where's the fish? This will require a magnet fishing rod and a selection of fish with magnets or paperclips attached and more than one child. Spread the fish on the floor with a child standing in front of them holding the fishing rod. Blindfold the child or ask them to close their eyes and ask the other child to guide them where to place the rod. Such as up/down, left/right and forwards/backwards. This is a fun way for the children to practice and understand the use of directional words.
- Finding the food in the maze, is a great way to incorporate simple directions such as left or right. This can be a "seaweed maze", the child being the fish and the children have to guide the child to the fishes food. The maze can be created to look more like seaweed walls or you can use everyday items to lay it out on the floor. This will allow the children to include numbers with their directions, such as three steps forward. Using this as an adult lead activity you can allow each child to have a turn at directing and allow for changes in the maze.
- "Through practical activities which include the use of technology, I have developed my understanding of the link between compass points and angles and can describe, follow and record directions, routes and journeys using appropriate vocabulary." (Second level)
- Using a compass is a great skill, using the "seaweed maze" will help with practical experience. You will need a piece of paper, pencil and a compass. Get the children to line up, looking away from the maze. Hide the "fish food" and guide the first child to the start. Ask them to follow the pathway until they come to a corner, once they reach the corner ask the child to write down how many steps they took, in which direction they went and what direction they have to turn. i.e. 'North 5 steps, turn East'.
Now it's the next child's turn. They will have to follow the previous instructions and then follow on until they reach a corner. Writing down how many steps they took, what direction they went and what direction they will have to turn. i.e. 'East 6 steps, turn South'. This can then continue until they reach the food. It would be best to do this in small groups so every child has more than one turn, or make the maze longer.
- "As I play and learn, I am developing my understanding of what is fair and unfair and why caring and sharing are important." (Early level)
or - "I can show my understanding of values such as caring, sharing, fairness, equality and love." (First level)
- Using a large space, such as a gym hall, you can play a game about protection. To do this you will need to select a few children to be the predators, such as sharks, dolphins or seals. The rest of the group will become the school of fish. The fish will swim in a circle with other fish inside the circle being protected. The predators will then try to eat the fish by a simple touch but if the fish on the outside notices then they can put up their hand and say stop. The fish should swap over from the outside to the inside and vice versa. Each time they will have to protect the inside fish. If a fish is 'caught' they sit out the rest of the game or join the predators, depending on how challenging you wish to make it.
This can continue until all the fish have been caught by the predators and will teach the moral of protection as it is seen in wildlife.
Photograph: school of fish
- Littering causes a lot of harm to wildlife on the coast and in the sea. You can use this to show how the fish and birds are affected and ask if it is fair or unfair for them. Using this to then progress onto how we can help stop littering, this could lead to awareness and making posters or taking small groups to the beach to perform litter picking to help the environment.
If you do not have access to a beach then you can create your own in your classroom. This can be done by using two trays full of sand, one of which will be filled with shells and toy wildlife and the other can be scattered with rubbish (clean), such as bottles and wrappers. This can then be labelled as clean a beach and a dirty beach, or depending on the classes ability polluted beach.
This can also be accompanied by litter pickers and recycling bins. Small groups of children can then clean the polluted beach, sorting the litter into the correct bins.
- Treating wildlife appropriately is key. If you take the children to the shore ensure that the children are aware of how to respect wildlife. This means being gentle with them and not poking animals with sticks, alongside being quiet around birds to prevent scaring them away.
- "I have observed living things in the environment over time and am becoming aware of how they depend on each other." (Early level)
or - "I can explore examples of food chains and show an appreciation of how animals and plants depend on each other for food." (First level)
- Food chains are important to the survival of all creatures within the seashore biodiversity. Whether it be to feed to survive or to avoid being hunted. You can create a food chain using your local wildlife, this will support the children with a recognisable visual aide. These images can be cut into separate parts and used as an activity for children to place in the correct order.
- Using a variety of shells such as a mermaids purse, sea urchin test and strand line and match them with pictures of the correct creatures that use them. This can be used as an activity to match the correct creatures to their "homes" or what they use to shelter themselves. - Idea and permission of use given by Janet Ullman.
- Creatures find food in different places on the coast. Sand hoppers and worms hide under rocks along the shoreline and in rock pools. To replicate this you can use small items to be food, such as paperclips, and upside down boxes as rocks, these can cover the "food". The challenge is for all the children to get the most food the quickest, this could be done in rally teams individually. To make it more challenging you can make rules that they can only turn over one box per turn, per team member. Some of the boxes may not have anything under them which leaves them to return with nothing and communicate with their team. If they are completing this too quickly you can put velcro on the boxes and use velcro gloves, the rule being they have to use the glove to lift the "rock". - Idea and permission of use given by Janet Ullman.
- "Through everyday experiences and play with a variety of toys and other objects, I can recognise simple types of forces and describe their effects." (Early level)
- Fishing game, you will need magnets, a rod, string, paperclips and printouts of fish. Attach a paperclip to the mouth of each fish and create a fishing rod with a piece of bamboo cane or dowel, attaching string to the rod and tying a magnet to the end. Use this as a way to show the use of forces with the magnets and how they attract items which are magnetic.
This could also be used with - "By exploring the forces exerted by magnets on other magnets and magnetic materials, I can contribute to the design of a game." (First level)
- Using this you can ask the children to help you make the game. Such as asking how can we make fishing rods and what can we attach to the fish to help the magnets pick them up. You could even provide a variety of materials, both magnetic and non-magnetic for the children to experiment. Through this they can decide the best materials and create the game themselves.
- Fridge magnets are great fun to make. Using clay you can design a seashore based creature, being careful to make it thin enough so it is not too heavy, yet not too thin that it will snap. I prefer to use air drying clay as its easier in the educational environment. When they are dry you can paint and decorate them how you like. When they are all ready and dry, attach a magnet to the back. I used pre-cut magnets which have a sticky back, but you can use any magnets, just make sure they are strong enough to hold your model. These are great fun and you can use this to teach the class about magnetic forces.
- Waves. You will need a tray of water, match stick or toothpick or a ping-pong ball and an unsharpened pencil. Place the stick into the middle of the water. Use the pencil to tap the surface of the water to create waves and observe how the waves move. This should show how the waves move away from the pencil and return to the source when they hit the opposite side. This will show the motion of the waves moving back and forth. Observing where the match stick moves will show how the waves move objects in the sea and how debris can be moved from one coast to another.
- To observe how waves can affect the coast line you can perform this activity. You will need a paint roller tray, water, sand (1,000g), gravel (500g) and a solid object such as a pencil. Pour the majority of the sand into the shallow section of the tray and a thin layer across the rest to cover it, save some sand for the next part. Pour water into the deeper end until you have a small area of sand showing in the shallow end, to look like a beach.
With a pencil, hold it parallel to the water at the deep end and move it back and forth to make waves. Watch how it effects the sand, you should observe the sand being slowly moved into the water. This shows how the waves can move the sand and how it shapes and changes our shorelines. Pour your gravel into the middle of the sand where it meets the water, then pour the rest of the sand onto the beach you have made.
Create the waves again with the pencil and watch how the waves affect the beach this time. You should be able to see that the gravel will not move as easily as the sand and that most of it will remain where it was placed. The sand around the gravel will be affected but not as much as the waves lose most of their force on the gravel. Each time the waves bounce and change direction they lose more force and cannot effect the beach as much. Compare this test to the previous and ask the children what differences they were able to observe.
- How fishes move around water. Using a tray of water and a motorised fish toy, you can show how the fish moves its tail from side to side creating a force that propels it forward. You can encourage the children to try this with their hands. This can be done by asking them to place their palms together and moving them from side to side. In the air they will not feel as much force against their hands, then ask them to do the same with their hands in the water and ask them what they feel and if they notice any difference. They should also observe waves or ripples in the water showing how the motion of their hands displaces the water.
- Through research on how animals communicate, I can explain how sound vibrations are carried by waves through air, water and other media." (Second level)
- Whale/dolphin noises. The sounds these great underwater creatures make is astounding. You can find plenty of examples from calming CDs to clips on the web. Using these as examples you can go in-depth about how these virbrations travel through waves. You could also include experiments of how sounds travel through different materials, such as air and water.
- Using a ball or an inflated balloon as a sounding lens to replicate similar effects of the bottle nose dolphin or sperm whale. Working in pairs, each child will place the 'sounding lens' to their face and talk, click or whistle, and do the same without the 'lens'. Their partner will listen to hear the difference between each example, and to record which sounded louder. The children can also experiement with how far the noise can be heard, with and without the 'sounding lens'. This can be recorded, including the measured distance between the pair. The sounding lens acts like the melon of the bottle nose dolphin or the spermaceti of a sperm whale, these magnify the sounds, clicks and whistles of the animal to stun prey and to maximise distant communications for sonar. This experiment is simple and helps explain the effects with a physical element. - Ideas and permission given by Janet Ullman.
- "I can talk about science stories to develop my understanding of science and the world around me." (Early level)
- The cycle between sand to rock can be used as a way to describe a story and process. Using cut outs of each process, in word or picture format, to place them in the correct order, such as; "boulder broken into rock, rock smoothed into pebble, pebble ground down to sand, sand compressed back into boulder". This can be done in a circle or in any place you wish to start. This could be furthered by asking the children in small groups what comes next in the process.
This can be complimented by a simple story using names of the children in the group.
"There once was a mountain called ... who wanted to see the world but he/she was too big to move. So he/she broke off a boulder from him/herself and rolled to a stream. But at the stream he/she found that he/she was too big. He/she saw a hawk nearby named ... and asked how he/she can follow the stream. The hawk told ... that he/she had to be smaller to fit, so the boulder broke down into a rock and started to flow down the stream. As the rock flowed down the stream it became a river. But he/she got stuck. The rock saw a fish named ... and asked how he/she can follow the river. The fish said that he/she had to become even smaller and smoother to roll along the river bed. So the rock became smaller and as he/she flowed down the river he/she became smoother and smoother and soon became a pebble. Soon the pebble reached the mouth of the river and could see the ocean but could not move any further. He/she saw a seagull named ... and asked how he/she could reach the sea. The seagull told them that he/she had to become even smaller to reach the ocean. So the pebble broke again and became a smaller pebble. As the little pebble washed into the sea it reached the ocean bed and did not move. He/she saw a huge whale swimming nearby named ... and asked how can he/she move from here? The whale told him/her that they had to become even smaller to be lifted by the waves. So the little pebble broke down into a tiny piece of sand, he/she was far smaller and lighter now and quickly got lifted by the waves and carried to the beach. On the beach he/she saw hundreds, thousands, no millions of other tiny grains of sand. They too were once big mountains and wanted to see the world and had become smaller along their journey. A small crab came along called ... and the grain of sand asked them how can he/she see the world? The crab told him/her that the waves will carry the little grain of sand to other beaches across the world. The little grain of sand was very happy and could not wait to see the world." - Story by Jack Johnston
- "I can make and test predictions about solids dissolving in water and can relate my findings to the world around me." (First level)
- Salt water. The sea is very salty and if you are near the coast most of the children will know this. Using an experiment of how much salt can dissolve in water is a great way for the children to learn. This experiment can be done with different temperatures of water, to help compare how quickly each different temperature dissolves the salt. The same amount of water must be in each container and the salt must be measured before pouring it in to record all information fully.
You could also compare with other items around the coast and see if they dissolve/change in different temperatures, such as sand and shells. All the experiments can be recorded down and then compared with other groups findings to find an average.
- "I am aware that different types of evidence can help me to find out about the past." (Early level)
or - "I can use primary and secondary sources selectively to research events in the past." (Second level)
- If you come from an area which has a fishing industry it would be a great opportunity to look into how fishing has changed over the years. This could be done with research or looking at old pictures, or if you have the opportunity to have a visitor who was a fisherman, such as a grandparent/parent. This could then be compared with modern day fishing. With pictures you can show how the tools for fishing have changed and how these tools are made, such as creels.
- Using pictures, which can be located from on line or older generations, of local shores you can investigate and compare the shoreline from the past to the current coast. Ask the children what differences they can see and how they have changed. Using research to help support how these changes came to be.
- For older years this could be done with personal research and through the creation of a short personal or group presentation to the class about what they have learned, discovered or stories they have been told.
- "I have explored how people lived in the past and have used my imaginative play to show how their lives were different from my own and the people around me." (Early level)
or - "I can use evidence to recreate the story of a place or individual of local historical interest." (First level)
- Using an area of classroom you can set up a fishery market which can display many different types of fish. These can be "caught" by children playing the role of fishermen who can then tell the market where and how they caught them. The market will then sell the fish to children playing customers who can ask where it came from and what the fish is called.
- For older years this could be portrayed through a short play, to show what they have learned about their local environment and individuals from the past such as fishermen. This play could show the progress of how this career changed over time and how the tools changed.
- "I explore and discover the interesting features of my local environments to develop an awareness of the world around me." (Early level)
or - "I can describe and recreate the characteristics of my local environment by exploring the features of the landscape." (First level)
- This is great for trips, where the children can explore the environment and discover its features. On the outing you can take advantage of the tide being out and using measuring tape or a metre wheel to measure how far the tide goes out. This can be done by using the markers on the beach where the waves reach a certain point and leave a distinctive line. This could be compared with other beaches and recorded for a later comparison.
- While visiting the shoreline you can also observe and record the type of beach it is. Whether it's a sand, stone or coral beach. This can be great for comparisons with others and how it feels underfoot and the sounds it makes.
- For older years you can use what they learn from the local environment and ask them to recreate it using arts and crafts. This can show how they see the environment and the points they found most interesting.
- "I explore and appreciate the wonder of nature within different environments and have played a part in caring for the environment." (Early level)
or - "I can consider ways of looking after my school or community and can encourage others to care for their environment." (First level)
or - "I can discuss the environmental impact of human activity and suggest ways in which we can live in a more environmentally-responsible way." (Second level)
- While on trips to the coast you can take binoculars for the children to use and observe wildlife. They may be able to see different local species of birds and possibly seals, otters or dolphins depending on your location. Take a chart to help the children record their findings.
- When visiting a beach you could gather the children in a safe area for them to close their eyes and use their other senses. You can ask them what they hear, smell and feel. You could take notes of what the children say to keep a record. This could then lead into an art activity in the classroom for the children to express their senses on the beach.
- In helping the children understand how they can care for the environment and its wildlife you can perform and activity in the classroom. This will show how pollution such as oil leakages from fuel carriers can affect birds. You will need two bowls of water, two clean feathers and oil (this can be standard cooking oil). Explain to the children that birds have a special substance on their feathers which causes water to run off them. This is because birds need their feathers to be light so they can fly, if they are too heavy they would not be able to take off from the ground.
Take your feathers and hold them horizontally to your face. Blow gently down the feather and it should lift up with ease. Now place the feather in the water bowl and ask the children what they think will happen, then blow it gently again. The feather should still lift up as the water runs off easily. Pour some of the oil into you second bowl and explain to the children about polluted waters and how this can come to be.
Ask the children what they think will happen this time, then blow the feather gently again. This time it should not lift up as easily as the others, showing how the oil makes the feather heavier. Explain how oil is denser and heavier than water and birds cannot clean it off. This makes their feathers heavier and causes them to not be able to fly. Explain to the children that we should always keep our environments clean for the wildlife.
- If you are taking a trip to the shoreline, you could take a few litter pickers with you to help clean the area and promote caring for our environments.
- "By exploring my local community, I have discovered the different roles people play and how they can help." (Early level)
or - "I have developed an understanding of the importance of local organisations in providing for the needs of my local community." (First level)
- You can research your local area for organisations that are involved with the seashore biodiversity areas. This includes the Highland Rangers, Whale and Dolphin conservationists and the coast guard. This would be a great opportunity to contact them and find out if they can visit your school or if they accept visitors.
The WDCS offers a dolphin centre in Scotland where you can visit and learn more about them and the topic itself. The coast guard not only help people in danger on the coast or sea but they have supported towards helping animals, such as whales who have beached on the coast. The rangers have a great knowledge and understanding of the local environments and can help support the learning of this topic.
- "Within and beyond my place of learning, I can reduce, reuse and recycle resources I use, to help care for the environment." (Early level)
or - "Throughout all my learning, I take appropriate action to ensure conservation of materials and resources, considering the impact of my actions on the environment." (First level)
- To help make the local community or other peers aware of the importance of the three R's you can make posters. Children can use recycled resources, such as small bits of paper, to make a collage of the beach or coastal wildlife. Collecting bits from the shoreline can also provide useful materials, however, they should be cleaned prior. The children can make a model as a class or in small groups to represent the coast topics or as a promotion to the environmental three R's.
- "I enjoy exploring and using technologies to communicate with others within and beyond my place of learning." (Early level)
or - "I can create, capture and manipulate sounds, text and images to communicate experiences, ideas and information in creative and engaging ways." (First and Second level)
- A great way to spread information the children have learned and to see how much they have absorbed over the course of the topic; can be seen through creating simple leaflets or posters, whichever you prefer, and they can focus on a particular interest within the topic. This could be information about the rangers, what they do, or whale conservationists, or recycling or a focus on their local shoreline. These can then be printed and put around the school and the local community, such as libraries, museums and so on.
- "I enjoy taking photographs or recording sounds and images to represent my experiences and the world around me." (Early level)
- Using cameras to capture what they find on outings is a great way to record their experiences. These pictures could focus on a range of activities listed on this page such as, litter found on the beach, wildlife they see, the different types on coast (sand, coral, and stones). These pictures can then be used in learning logs and they could also decide which pictures to use within displays showcasing all their findings across the experiences.
- Recording the sounds of the coastal environment is great to play back in class. Focusing on the senses in a quiet space you ask the children to lay down and close their eyes and listen to the recording. Afterwards you can ask the children what they could hear, i.e. 'birds, wind, waves'. This could be used as a great calming activity after a gym session, ready for the children to sit down and start the lesson.
- "Throughout my learning, I share my thoughts with others to help further develop ideas and solve problems." (Early level)
- Group discussions are a brilliant way for children to share their thoughts and ideas. These discussions could include topics such as, how can we protect nature and the coast, how we can clean beaches and the seas, and how can we inform others of this. Open ended questions should help to inspire the children to come up with great ideas. You could supply them with a large piece of paper and some pens for them to draw or write their ideas and then present it to the class, showing their findings.
Things you should know;
There are some risks you should be aware of before taking children out on to the seashore;
- Rocks on the coast may be slippery due to the tide recently going out. Rocks may also be covered with seaweed which can often be slippery if wet. Tread with care.
- If you are walking on a rocky beach be careful of where you are walking as some rocks may be loose and could cause a falling hazard. If you are visiting with young children ensure they hold an adults hand when walking over this terrain.
- Although we promote reusing/recycling and discourage littering there is a high chance you will come across it on the beaches. This may include plastics, rope and even smashed glass. Keep watch to ensure no children touch it with their hands or get hurt.
- Tides can catch you out. Ensure that you check the tide times of your selected destination. You do not want to get stuck in a location if the tide comes in and blocks your pathway.
Here are some of the resources I would recommend and some that we provide on our site;
Check out our resources page by clicking here.
What you can find on the reosources page;
- - Information on our "Happy Families" card game.
- - Our 'Beside the Sea, art, stories and poems from schools across the Highlands’ book.
- - The Top 20 Common Species Identification Sheets by Mike Kendall.
- - "User Friendly Seashore Guide" by James Merryweather (Available only through retail at Amazon.com).
- - PDF Guides to print & laminate - for use on the seashore in all conditions, these include Periwinkles and Barnacles.
- - Our recommended Online Identification Guides by multiple agencies.
- - The Wester Ross Marine Wildlife Poster.
- - Highland Nature Guide CDR by James Merryweather.
- - Barnacle Guide collated by Mike Kendall
- - Seashore Life Posters by James Merryweather, these can be downloaded or ordered as A1 sized sheets.
The Field Studies Council (FSC) has great resources which you can invest in and perfect for outings. Follow the links below for two packs that are perfect for seashore topics and projects.
For brilliant animal sculptures made from plastic and rubbish that washes up on the shore check out this site. Great for events and workshops.
Here are some of the activities that Rangers perform when they come and visit schools and groups. You can use activities to support the learning prior and after the events with the rangers. Not all rangers have everything listed so when contacting your local rangers for a visit, ask them what activities they will perform so you can plan ahead.
- Lift the flap seashore game.
- Life size bottle nose and minke whale jigsaws. (Great for measuring)
- Seashore puppets.
- Resources including; nets, trays, aqua scopes and binocular microscopes. Great for outings and seeing small nature clearly.
- Pop up quiz and spot the beastie, which is great fun.
Unless otherwise stated, all ideas are the creation of Jack Johnston.