Experience the Aquarium Through the Eyes of a Child!

Published August 20, 2013

by Heather Doggett, Director of Visitor Programs and Staff Training

Have you noticed that your child’s curiosity and unique way of asking questions can really keep you on your toes? Fortunately, when my four-year-old son visits during the week, we have all the time in the world to explore the Aquarium, and since nature itself is the best teacher, each visit is unique!

As we stroll around the Aquarium, we are helping our children create deep emotional ties to the marine animals that share our planet. The added long-term benefit is that the more our children are familiar with and connected to nature, the more likely they are to help preserve and care for wildlife later on.

So how do you encourage that connection? Fun games can actually help sharpen your child’s ability to calmly focus their attention so they become more aware of what they’re seeing, hearing, smelling and touching! Give these simple activities a try:

Guessing Games

Play an A-Z game of “I spy.” “I spy something that begins with the letter S.” Think: shark, skink, sea turtle, snake, etc.

Colors of the Rainbow

Recognize and name colors. What colors do you see in the flowers and the trees of Upland Tropical Rain Forest?

Musically Inclined

Adapt a favorite song to include the Aquarium’s animals. “The frogs at the Aquarium go hop, hop, hop” (to the tune The Wheels on the Bus).

Spatial Vocabulary

Point out concepts such as: in, out, under, over, off, on, etc. The alligator is under the water, the tortoise is inside his shell, the sharks are in the Blacktip Reef exhibit.

Big, Small, Tiny, Tall Talk about the idea of big, small, biggest, smallest, tall, short, etc. Point out the biggest dolphin. Ask, “Is that dolphin bigger or smaller than that one?”

Parents Ask the Darndest Questions

Ask questions that lead to more questions like, “Why do think that scarlet ibis is red?” “Why does the adult zebra shark have spots instead of stripes?”

At Their Eye Level

Notice the small details and critters at knee-height. Stopping to watch the blue-crowned motmot busily flit among the branches from the upper level of Upland Tropical Rain Forest creates a special memory that you two can share!

Experts tell us that young children who have positive experiences in nature with an encouraging adult forge lasting memories and relationships with nature. With these activities and our insider guide to having the best Aquarium experience in your pocket, the next family trip to the Aquarium will be a perfect example of just that!

Is there a fun game you and your kids like to play at the Aquarium or other museums? Tell me about it in the comments section! 

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Heather Doggett

Director of Visitor Programs and Staff Training

National Aquarium - Heather Doggett

About Heather Doggett

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