Rock-pooling simple rules for children

Have an exciting coastal adventure with your child

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Britain’s beaches play host to a plethora of natural life, just waiting to be discovered by curious little beachcombers. While children adore exploring this stimulating habitat, there are a few considerations that should be taken into account to treat the seaside ecosystem with respect and stay safe, warm and dry for a happy day out.

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1. Wrap up well
While our rugged British coastline makes for a beautiful landscape, it can also be a harsh environment for children’s sensitive skin. Make sure your child has appropriate footwear, such as wellies or waterproof shoes with good grip on the soles for clambering around slippery environments. A sea breeze can be chilling even when the skies are blue, so pack hats, scarves and plenty of light waterproof layers which can be easily removed if necessary.

2. Bring a kit
Your child can make the most of his discoveries with a few essential pieces of kit such as a magnifying glass or binoculars to inspect your discoveries more closely, a notebook to keep a rock-pooling log, a little tub to collect empty shells and some wet wipes or antibacterial gel to keep hands clean before tucking into a celebratory, post-hunt ice cream.

3. Do not disturb
Rock pools are carefully balanced ecosystems that survive against the harsh elements of the tides and coastal weather. Every living being in this environment, from seaweed to tiny barnicles and crabs relies on each other as sources of food and shelter so it’s really important to try not to upset the balance by removing plants or other forms of life. Discourage your children from disturbing large rocks or removing living creatures, check shells are empty before collecting them to take away and always put overturned rocks back carefully.

4. Keep safe
Always supervise your children when they are investigating the shore and check the tidal currents as they can be surprisingly quick to pick up. Watch out for slippy rocks and seaweed on the ground and be vigilant about not picking up any discarded glass or dangerous rubbish that can sometimes be found on the shore.

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5. Make it an adventure
Scrambling around the beach, searching for animal life and other hidden treasure will feel like a real adventure to your child, and you can add to the excitement by bringing in an element of storytelling. If you discover a shiny shell or piece of driftwood ask your children where it could have come from; a hermit crab who had abandoned his home and moved into an old shoe? A piece from the hull of a sunken pirate ship? Work together to create fantastical stories about your beachcombing discoveries, gifting your child with magical memories of his day at the beach for years to come.