Many of the learning opportunities we have with our children are unplanned. Being observant is the only skill you need to teach your child something new about the world around them.
When we spent a week at the Jersey shore in September, we learned many things by observing what was in nature and by visiting educational places like the Cape May Zoo. We also learned some things about wind. We did not plan these lessons. They presented themselves.
We flew a kite at the beach. We felt the wind pull the kite into the air and experimented with letting out different lengths of string. We talked about how kites are easier to fly on breezy days.
There happened to be an air show over the beach where we stayed that week. We saw many types of aircraft and talked about how they move air when they fly.
About half way through our week at the shore, a storm came through. We noticed the winds picking up and started making observations. We watched the waves in the ocean and saw the effects of the wind. The waves were coming in more forcefully and in many directions. The water was foamy and cloudy.
We could feel the effects of the wind on our hair and we could feel a change in temperature. We observed the way the wind blew the sand and watched the sand shift around objects like trash cans and our shoes.
We decided to drive to Atlantic City to keep busy since it was not a good beach day. On the way there, we spotted windmills. We drove toward them until we were as close as we could get and we watched them turn in the wind. We also came across a small educational display that explained how wind energy is harnessed and used. It provided a lot of other educational information as well.
From inside the mall on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, we got a better view of the wind’s effect on the water. The mall is built out over the ocean and offers a great view of stormy waters so we could observe without being out in the elements. When we tried to walk a short distance on the boardwalk, we quickly turned back after feeling the force of the wind we had to walk against.
So with no plans to teach the kids about wind or air, the world provided many meaningful experiences on the subject for us! Keep this in mind in your every day life and when traveling. Making interesting observations about the world around you will create concrete learning experiences for your children every day.
Some additional thoughts on Atlantic City:
Aside from the wind farm, we found some other learning opportunities in Atlantic City. The mall on the boardwalk has a free fountain and light show that the kids really enjoyed.
My five year old was also fascinated by the machinery in the ceiling above the fountain and watched it move as it changed lights and added water during the show.
While waiting for the show to start, we also saw the inside of an escalator. Very cool to see the inner workings of the “fancy stairs,” as my boys like to call them!
We ate at the Rainforest Cafe. While I would prefer if a restaurant that uses the rainforest as its theme were focused on environmentally friendly practices (and not on selling lots of non eco friendly toys in their gift shop), this ended up being educational for our kids. Most tables in the restaurant have a tropical fish tank view. Since my husband is a former diver and knowledgeable about the types of fish, he was able to identify many of the fish for the children. Since they were confined to the table to wait for the food to arrive, they were able to study the fish for a longer period than they probably would have while running from tank to tank in an aquarium.
Speaking of aquariums, there is a very small one in Atlantic City that we have visited on previous trips. It is has a limited number of animals, but might be worth checking out on a rainy day.
So, there is much to be learned at the Jersey shore! Even in the more adult town of Atlantic City, your family can find lots of learning opportunities if you are looking for them!
Since our trip to the Jersey shore in September, New Jersey and many other areas have been devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Visit the Official Website for the State of New Jersey to learn more about recovery efforts or to donate or volunteer.
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