November 24, 2017

5 Ways to Make Learning Fun at the Aquarium


Oh, how I love the aquarium. Just watching my kids eyes light up as we watch the dolphin show or see the jellies float past us in the tank is worth the price of admission. These days there’s so much more to the aquarium than walking past tank after tank. There are real opportunities for learning, whether learning about animal habitats, undersea vocabulary or environmental conservation programs.

Here are five ways to spark learning on your next family visit to the aquarium, much to the delight of your children:

  • Download Activity Guides. Many aquariums, including the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, offer study guides, as well as a selection of pre- and post-visit activities. This aquarium also offers a special self-guided program called Aqua Adventures so the aquarium can be an extension of classroom learning, teaching kids about cold and warm weather habitats, for example.
  • Take a Class. Some aquariums, like the Shark Reef Aquarium in Las Vegas, offer comprehensive educational programs for kids. Monday through Friday they offer a one hour guided tour plus a one hour classroom session. The Georgia Aquarium offers Camp H2O to further the educational experience. Each day has a different theme, like “A Day in the Life of an Aquarium Scientist.”
  • Get a Backstage Tour. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago offers behind-the-scenes tours, allowing kids to witness the aquarium at work and even learn more about breeding programs and how meals are prepared for so many different sea animals. At the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach you can take a behind-the-scenes tour with a marine biologist to learn more about seals and sea lions.
  • Have a Slumber Party. There’s no question that aquariums are popular, so a growing trend now is in sleepovers with the fishies. It’s a special way to enjoy the aquarium minus the crowds. Just bring your toothbrush and sleeping bag. Dana at Ciao Bambino shares her experience at one of the Family Seashore Sleepovers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Keep in mind that reservations are often required.
  • Conserve the Environment. Many aquariums now work in collaboration with animal conservation and research organizations. The National Aquarium in Baltimore organizes conservation events throughout the year to help preserve the wetlands and wildlife refuges. You can get on their mailing list to find out about volunteer opportunities.

Parents magazine recently rated the 10 Best Aquariums for Kids in the United States. Included on this list are a few of my faves, like the Georgia Aquarium and National Aquarium.

How are you making learning more fun at the aquarium?


  1. Rachel @ Surviving The Stores says:

    I love this, Erin!!

    The site looks awesome and I love the idea!!

    I’m really looking forward to reading it.

    • Erin Gifford says:

      Thanks, Rachel. You’re too sweet. It’s definitely a lot of fun. Excited to do more travels with my kids now that they’re getting a little older! 🙂

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