Of course kids love visiting an aquarium because they get to see the sharks, touch the stingrays and marvel at all the colorful tanks. I know that my little ones get so excited in places like the aquarium that they move through quickly, missing half the exhibits! With a little bit of intentional forethought, you can slow them down and expand their experience to make it more educational and fulfilling for your preschoolers.
Read on and download a free printable Aquarium Scavenger Hunt!
1) Color identification
Aquariums house creatures in all the colors of the rainbow! It is a great place for toddlers and preschoolers to practice naming their colors. Ask questions such as: “Can you find a blue fish in this tank? What color is the sea star? Point to the red coral.” Check out the free printable Aquarium Scavenger Hunt for a color identification activity!
2) Counting and Estimating
With so many tanks full of animals, aquariums provide a perfect opportunity to practice early math skills! If you have toddlers who are just beginning to learn numbers, you can count aloud, for example: “I wonder how many seahorses are in this tank…Let’s count them together!” Or you can prompt your preschooler to practice counting and estimating with questions like “Are there more sharks or more rays in this tank? Let’s make an estimation. Now you count them so we can find out!”
3) Search and Find
Asking your toddler or preschooler to locate and identify different animals in the aquarium not only helps them to learn names of creatures, but also strengthens their observational skills! Kids have to look carefully to make sure they don’t pass by the animals on their paper. Giving them a purpose, like completing a scavenger hunt, makes it easier to keep their attention than simply yelling “hey come look at this!” every time they rush past an exhibit! Check out the free printable Aquarium Scavenger Hunt below for an easy search and find activity. When my son had found all the animals on the page, he was so proud.
4) Speech and Vocabulary
There are literally thousands of animal names in the aquarium that kids can learn to say. Having your toddler say the odd names of the fish they are observing will help strengthen their speech and pronunciation skills. Preschoolers can improve their vocabulary by making connections between an animal’s name and its appearance. Ask probing questions like “Why do you think this fish is called a ‘guitar fish’? What part of the ‘parrot fish’ makes it look similar to a real parrot?”
5) Gross Motor
The fish in the aquarium are constantly moving (much like toddlers and preschoolers)! Take advantage of this commonality to build gross motor skills by having kids mimic the animals’ motions. Kids love games, so with a little prompting (and the freedom to act silly in public) you can get everyone guessing who’s wiggling like an eel or flapping their fins like a ray.