Early Explorers Ocean

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Anyone who has followed along on our Koala Crate adventures knows that I love subscription boxes. We’ve just begun a new subscription, now that Travis is old enough to try out Little Passport’s Little Explorers set, aimed at ages 3 to 5. And of course I have to document our adventures!

Little Explorers presents a theme about our planet/geography each month to kids with “materials that encourage creativity through play.” Unlike Koala Crate, which supplies all your materials, Little Explorers is more of a guide, which took a little getting used to. We’ve discovered, though, that this leaves lots of room for exploration – appropriate for a company that is all about, well, travel and exploration!

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Each month comes with a luggage tag to affix to your child’s suitcase, stickers for a wall map, an activity booklet, a postcard, a game or keepsake, and lots of suggestions for further learning. The activity booklet has been fantastic for things like simple mazes, matching games, dot-to-dots, colors etc., all great preschool activities. Our map stickers this month had us talking about icebergs, orca whales, penguins, lobsters, and more!

Ocean Craft:

The suggested craft this month was for a homemade jellyfish. We’ve tried to make this creature a few times before but the instructions from Little Passports are by far the best I’ve come across. First we needed to paint a paper plate. Travis chose green and pink for his jellyfish.

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After the paint dried, we glued on 15 yarn “tentacles.”

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Travis had fun with leftover yarn pretending to be a wiggly jiggly creature while we waited for the glue to set.

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I added tape across the tentacles for extra reinforcement. We glued on two googly eyes as the final touch, and then it was time swim around him around. Travis insisted that the jellyfish have a smile.

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You can also make handprint jellyfish! Travis didn’t want to get his hands messy, but loved watching me create the wriggly creatures by dipping my hand in paint – palm-shaped bodies, and little finger tentacles.

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Perhaps you could make handprint anemone this way as well. These crafts later prompted us to do some jellyfish research online – did you know sea nettle jellyfish grow from the size of a grain of rice to over sixteen feet long?!

Ocean Science:

Next up was some ocean science. Travis and I have examined the way salt makes objects float before, but I have to confess that Little Passport’s suggestion worked even better. Though I normally wouldn’t advocate any activity involving eggs, my non-vegan husband had some in the fridge and I suppose you could say we “upcycled” them for this game.

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Pour ¾ cup water into each of 2 clear glasses. Add an egg to the first glass and you’ll see it sink immediately. Now stir ¼ cup salt into the second glass – Travis marveled at how cloudy it looked.

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We added the second egg and – boink! – it floated back to the top! A very clear illustration of how salt makes objects more buoyant.

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Ocean Keepsake:

The provided game in our package this month was not a hit: a “fishing” game with wooden animals to catch on a rod. The trick of getting the rod into the circle of each animal was very hard for Travis, who mostly just got frustrated. A magnet would have been much easier for little hands! This is one he’ll have to grow into.

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Ocean Field Trip:

On the activity booklet’s suggestion, we headed to our nearest aquarium. Using our Ocean flashcards from “Max and Mia” (Little Explorer’s guides), we hunted out a few things in particular: the coral reef exhibit;

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and a humpback whale. (This last was a fountain statue of a whale; I do not recommend visiting aquariums that house large cetaceans).

Ocean Further Activities:

We added a visit to our local library and found a neat series with one volume for each of the world’s 5 oceans. The subject material was a bit advanced for Travis, but he liked looking at the pictures of sea animals around the world.

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Older kids can have fun drawing their favorite ocean animals. Since Travis’s artwork is still a bit, er, abstract, I printed out a page for him to color instead.

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We hit up a local beach to look for shells on a pretty walk. We even found a horseshoe crab!

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A perfect end-of-summer pause.

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This then prompted us to research seashells and coral online. We made discoveries both interesting and silly. In the interesting category, did you know that 9 out of 10 shells open up to the right? So shells tend to be “right-handed” just like people. This was a neat factoid for my little lefty. In the silly category, we discovered a beach in Australia with whole shells instead of sand – in a pile that runs 32 feet deep! To this Travis loved looking at the pictures and saying, “Ouch!”

In sum, tons of fun and learning was sparked by our first installment of Little Explorers. What else can you think of to learn and play and do with regards to the ocean? Please share in the comments!

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Dancing Salt

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Did you know that salt likes to dance along to music? Neither did we until we tried this cool experiment! Sound waves might be invisible, but because they create vibrations, the dancing salt allows kids to see sound in action!

You don’t need to dye your salt with food coloring for this experiment, but it will make it easier to see as it moves.

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Besides, Travis enjoyed smooshing the color into the salt. We placed 3 portions of salt in zip-top plastic bags and added blue, green, and red.

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Next you’ll need a bluetooth speaker to make this experiment work. Tape 6 popsicle sticks around the speaker at intervals to create a frame, then top with plastic wrap. Place on a flat surface.

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Now sprinkle on the salt and watch it shimmy and shake! We found that loading too much salt on the plastic wrap made the action harder to see. Even the amount below was too heavy:

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So a light sprinkle was the most interesting. Here is our salt grooving to the Beatles – who knew salt had good taste in music?

Definitely a fun one!