Waves of Wonder: 5 Activities for Young Boaters
September 30, 2016
School's back in session, which means (for most of us) no more long weekdays with the kids on the boat. Make the most of weekend boat rides with fun and educational activities that everyone can enjoy. The road trip guessing-game "I Spy" gains a new dimension on boat rides, where interesting things can be "spied" in the water and sky as well as on the shore. Kids can spy green fish, white birds, red buoys, and countless colored boats, and have fun guessing each other's items. Another game has no name that we know of, but it can be played anywhere, not just on the boat. Starting with the letter A, look around and see how many things you see that begin with that letter. One great thing about playing this game around the docks: you're bound to see a Zodiac inflatable watercraft to finish up the alphabet. Do you see any unusual or migrating birds? What kind of seashell is that? Keep pocket-size field guides for birds and fish in your boat's glove compartment, so that when a young boater asks, "What's that?" you can have fun looking up the answer together. If you have cellular service on the water, you can also search the Internet on your smartphone or tablet for more pictures of the animals you see. Take turns sharing a pair of binoculars to examine faraway features like lighthouses, buoys, or boats on the horizon. If you're boating at night, point the binoculars skyward and marvel at the stars. Is the moon up? Examine its craters and talk about the moon's phases. Download a free night sky app to help young stargazers identify stars and planets. Bring crayons, markers, and drawing paper so little (and big!) artists can draw what they see from the boat. Store drawing materials in a plastic bag to protect them from water. Speaking of bags, dry bags come in handy for keeping spare clothes safe. As it's usually cooler on the water, pack sweatshirts and jackets just in case. If it's warm enough to swim, carry a change of clothes for each child so they can put on fresh duds after drying off. Always make sure children are buckled into properly-sized life jackets. Even infants should wear a life vest. If you bring a baby in a car seat on board, please don't buckle him or her into it; if the seat goes overboard, it will prevent the life jacket from helping the child to float. Every boat ride is an opportunity to encourage kids' curiosity and to help them slake their thirst for knowledge about our world. This fall, make the most of every moment.