So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.Genesis 1:21 NIV
On a recent visit to Chattanooga to see our daughter’s family, my husband and I had the pleasure of taking our three-year-old grand-guppy to the aquarium. It’s Benaiah’s latest fascination, and we were all too happy to accommodate him in his happy place.
Because several years have passed since these older fishes have visited an aquarium with a youngster in tow, my husband and I made a few observations that we plan to keep fresh in our minds for future visits. In case you haven’t enjoyed the beauty of God’s artistic sea creations with a little one recently or in quite some time, here are our tidbits of advice.
10 Tidbits for Your Next Aquarium Visit:
- Buy reading material or check out books from the library to look at before the visit; then enjoy them again following the trip. Try to help the little tadpoles relate the pictures to the recent visit with verbal reminders.
- Pack a diaper bag or backpack, but pack light enough so that you can enjoy the aquarium without a heavy load. You’ll be picking up the little one often.
- Take snacks for a picnic break so toddler doesn’t get so hungry that a meltdown happens. Say, “Look, the fish are eating a snack! Let’s have a snack, too!”
- Pack extra clothes and be prepared to get wet. You’ll want to take advantage of the touch-tanks, and long sleeved shirts are bound to get wet. Help little fishy learn about patience while waiting for a sting ray or lobster crab to come close enough to touch. And, enjoy your own dose of patience-learning when Little Bit wants to stay much longer than you do at the touch tank.
- Decide ahead of time how you want to handle the gift shop exit that’s inevitable. You can decide you’ll buy one, and only one, treat for the visitor. Or you can ask about an alternate exit as you enter the aquarium that avoids the gift shop. Or, perhaps you can purchase a less-expensive sea creature toy or stuffed animal to have in the car out of sight for the child. To get through the gift shop, tell the child you have a surprise in the car.
- Make sure to find out when the scuba divers will be in the larger tanks and allow enough time for interaction. Some of the best divers are intentional to interact with the kids, giving the kids high-fives, thumbs-up motions, and animated waves and smiles.
- Resist the urge to “see it all.” We adults get so caught up in “getting our money’s worth” that we think we have to see everything in one visit. That often rushes a child and kills their curiosity about a particular exhibit or favored animal. In fact, look into getting a yearly pass. Sometimes a family pass can pay for itself in just two visits. Then you can enjoy the exhibits at your own pace without feeling the need to see everything in one visit.
- Let the child direct the learning. Stay as long and as short at each exhibit as the child directs.
- Take lots of pictures of the youngster in front of the tanks. And snap a picture of the identification plaque, too. Then, if the child is too busy to identify the animal while there, you can review its name at home.
Keep in mind, a trip to an aquarium can be an expensive endeavor and you want to have a big experience. But, it’s the little moments – touching the sting ray, giving the scuba diver a high-five, or snacking together in the rocking chair – that sometimes create the most lasting memories! At least that was true recently for these one, two older fishes and a wee-three-year-old new one.
“Keep in mind, a trip to an aquarium can be an expensive endeavor and you want to have a big experience. But, it’s the little moments … that sometimes create the most lasting memories @jlavenderwrites #10Tidbits #AquariumVisit #familyTweet