Do you have some animal lovers in your family? It’s always wonderful to see your child’s face light up when they see unique and larger-than-life creatures that they’ve only read about in books. Even more magical is a family trip to the aquarium. Watching all the colorful sea creatures swimming around in oversized tanks makes it feel like a deep sea adventure. Research shows that opportunities to touch marine life, giving kids hands-on experiences, spark learning and interest in nature and the environment. But at what age will kids actually get the best benefit from a visit to the local aquarium. Here are some things to consider and tips on getting the most out of your aquarium visit with your kids!
Taking Your Toddler to the Aquarium
Any out-of-the-house excursion with a young toddler, usually ages 1-3 years, can seem daunting. So there’s always a stringent thought process on deciding where to take a toddler on a family adventure. Most parents or caregivers want to know if places will be kid-friendly, have changing facilities, or have stroller access. More often than not local aquariums are designed and geared to be kid friendly as possible! SeaQuest aquariums almost always have a play area or interactive games for little ones. This allows a break during the tour visit and kids can run around to burn off some energy. Taking your little tots to an aquarium can be a great decision for many reasons:
- Toddlers are fascinated by lights! Lights allow for sensory stimulation and capture the attention of kids of all ages.
- Soothing sounds: Aquariums not only feature soothing music tracks but also ambient nature sounds and notes of flowing water, which are known to calm any nerves or anxiety.
- Touch Tanks and Tunnels: Most aquariums will have a walk-through or walk-under tunnel. Little ones can see fish swimming all around and above their heads. Touch tanks allow kids to feel things as they would be in nature. It’s a one-of-a-kind learning experience.
Visiting the Aquarium with Students
You may be a teacher looking for ideas on class field trips, or a parent with kids who fall into the student category, elementary or middle schoolers. If so, this is truly the best age range to take kids on a trip to the aquarium. This is the age where, to children, the world is still huge and full of wonder. They are old enough to listen to instructions, be genuinely interested in learning, and are able to endure the time or distance required at an aquarium.
- Age 4-8 years: Generally, kids in this range are not quite into video games or tied up with their cell phones just yet. This is where hands-on encounters really benefit children and students. They get to interact with and feed animals, which helps build on life skills by strengthening their awareness of their surroundings and how to approach new things in life.
- Age 9-12 years: Sitting in a classroom all day or laying around the couch on weekends can get pretty boring. An aquarium visit in this age range is a great way to engage kids and encourage enthusiasm to learn. Participating in interactive encounters with animals, can foster a sense of responsibility and explain the importance of caring for others and for the environment. An Aquarium visit can also be a great way to develop better reading habits. With plenty of informational screens and signage at exhibits, kids are more likely to read up on topics that interest them.
Older Kids Can Have Fun at the Aquarium, too!
For the older learners in your home or classroom, aquariums are a great way to introduce more complicated topics to explore. An in-person experience builds on critical thinking and improves problem-solving skills for tweens and high school-aged teens.
- They’ll Ask In-Depth Questions: Attractions such as zoos or aquariums create a sense of curiosity in older learners. Not only does it inspire them to ask more meaningful questions, but also allows them to seek answers in a far more effective way. Why pull out the phone to “look it up” online – kids are right there, seeing and experiencing nature and wildlife firsthand! Challenge your older learner to take advantage of all the information available to them in person. Through hands-on experience and research, the new information learned is more likely to stick in their long-term memory.
- They’ll Be Introduced to STEM: If you are unfamiliar with STEM, check out this guide to STEM here. An aquarium visit gives those older kids a chance to really dive into some scientific and technological aspects of nature and wildlife. Aquariums are dynamic miniature ecosystems all on their own. They give students the opportunity to learn about concepts such as the food chain, the nitrogen cycle, the water cycle, and fish anatomy, development, and reproduction. Many students do struggle with science concepts in school and in the classroom, but providing context with an in-person experience gives more meaning to it all. It motivates children of any age to put in the effort to understand more about life other than the human species.
The Best Age to Take Kids to the Aquarium is Any Age!
Truth be told, there is something at the aquarium for kids of all ages. A visit to your local aquarium can bring children and families together. The colorful marine life, bright sights, soothing sounds, and underwater journey creates conversations that lead to family bonding. If you live near an aquarium, it’s worth researching the cost of a yearly membership/ It could be a solid investment for your family, particularly if you are a family that loves to explore and adventure any day of the week! From the touch tanks to feeding animals, or even holding and petting some cute little fuzzy creatures, a family trip to the aquarium creates memories that last a lifetime.
SeaQuest is committed to protecting our world’s oceans, wildlife, and endangered animals. We focus on how to be proactive in finding solutions. To learn how your family can purchase yearly memberships for fun family adventures, visit SeaQuest today or stop by any of the following locations: Utah, Las Vegas, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Sacramento, Minneapolis, Connecticut, Lynchburg, New Jersey, and Atlanta.