Creative Adventures: Tidepooling


 Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way. - Edward de Bono, psychologist and writer

This post is something new for me. I usually write about our hands-on projects, but I thought it would be fun to take our creative thinking out into the great wide world. In reference to the quote above, not only am I breaking out of the pattern of my blog posts as I write this, but it’s experiences like the one I’m about to share that encourage children to look at things in a new way and help build their creative thinking skills.

As you read this, consider how you can break a pattern in order to look at things in a new way.

Can you believe this view? It’s a favorite beach about 45 minutes from my house…not too far, really…and here’s the pattern that we broke: this was the first time we’ve been there in over a year!  Sad, right? It’s an awesome spot called the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, located in Moss Beach, CA, just north of Half Moon Bay. And what makes it doubly amazing is that you can walk all over the fascinating tide pools and check out the sea life up close. A kids’ dream.

tidepool kids

The reason we haven’t been in ages because my youngest, Baby R, hasn’t been stable enough to handle the rocks on her own and I wasn’t sure of my own footing with her in the carrier.

Well, she’s hardly a baby anymore at 21 months, so there we were. I didn’t know how it would go with her, actually, but after holding my hands for a bit she wanted to brave the rocks by herself. She fell a couple times, nothing major, and seemed to enjoy the challenge of navigating the slippery, uneven terrain.

Creative adventure at the tide pool | TinkerLab

N is almost 4, and turned this into a jumping adventure. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, my kids like to dress themselves. Who wears dresses and tights to the tidepools? Um, that would be my daughter.

tidepool kids

When I was a kid I loved discovering the squishy sea anemones that retract and squirt water when you touch them. So of course I had to introduce them to my little friends. They were hooked and would squeal with laughter when they found a colony of these little slippery creatures. This turned out to be a great bonding activity for these two.

beach lunch kids

We found the perfect spot to eat lunch and talk about the molting seals (they’re sitting on those far-off rocks), talk to the park ranger about sea stars, and take in the fresh air.

And without any extra effort on my part, this outing encouraged my kids to explore and follow their curiosities; building blocks of creative thinking. On the walk back to the car N asked when we could come back to see the sea stars that the ranger told us about. She wanted to know all about the harbor seals and how they’re different from ringed seals. And where do they go when the tide comes in? And she wanted to bring her dad back to introduce him to the tide pools.

Spending time in nature, outdoors, and in a new environment does wonders for the mind. These experiences can challenge, excite, and educate us.

So now I ask you: What can you do to break your established patterns in order to look at things in a different way? 

Favorite web spots for outdoor adventures

Go Explore Nature: Connecting with Kids and Nature. A beautifully written and photographed blog by Debi Huang, an LA-based mama of two boys. This is a must-read site if you live in California. I get all sorts of good tips for traveling with kids to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, not to mention anyone who can explore nature in LA gets major props in my book. She also has a fantastic list of nature-related resources. Not to be missed.

Let the Children Play. Written by Jenny, an Australian-based preschool teacher. Jenny’s child-raising point of view is play-based and project-oriented. You’ll often spot her little charges learning through play in their natural outdoor space, and her ideas often influence my own backyard transformations. She did some great leg-work and put together this useful list of Top 10 Outdoor Play Blogs

Most Awesome Local Blog!

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We recently visited one of our favorite Bay Area kid spots, the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, and stayed until the kids could play no more. If you’re local, or just might visit San Francisco with young kids, definitely bookmark this as a destination. There are views of the Golden Gate bridge, wonderful nature-based exhibits, and when you walk in you’re greeted by this sign…

It pretty much sums up why I love this place so much. And it turns out that I’m not alone. Hundreds, if not thousands, of other people agree, as the Bay Area Discovery Museum was just named the Most Awesome Museum by Red Tricycle readers.

And you know what else? I nearly tripped over our sandbox when I learned that TinkerLab also won its category: Most Awesome Local Blog!  I was nominated with some other terrific blogs, and could only half believe the news. I’m already a huge fan of Red Tricycle, a free email newsletter of amazing things to do around town, so of course this made me drool with delight.  If you happen to live in the cities they serve: SF, Seattle, Portland, L.A., or San Diego, do check them out!  One last thing, two of my favorite blogs in Seattle and Los Angeles also won — Teacher Tom and The Twin Coach. Oh my!

Okay, so back to the Most Awesome Museum: We were so busy playing in the toddler zone and outside that we only had time for a photo drive-by of the art studio. I always love to see what they’re up to in there, and on this trip they had open-ended exploration of paper and tape. Families were invited to add their creations to the growing paper chains that dangled from the ceilings. I could totally imagine a version of this in my home!

On the way out of the Museum I spotted these plastic-bodied butterflies that were screwed right to the wall. Wouldn’t these look cool in my backyard?

So thank you, Bay Area Discovery Museum for another fun day, and to each of you who voted for TinkerLab and shared this blog with your friends. Not only is it an honor, but I’m also thrilled to consider that our creativity boosters may enter the consciousnesses of more parents, teachers, and caregivers.

If you have a favorite museum, I’d love to hear about it. Please feel free to share a name or link in the comments.