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.

creative adventures: tidepooling

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


  1. i forgot about the tidepools! some of my growing up years were in aptos and half my family still lives there or thereabouts…this is a perfect idea in that we’ve made a commitment this last year not to just go and visit family, but to visit the area as well – see missions, museums, state parks and the like…tidepooling is definitely on the agenda now. thanks.

    • I’m so glad that this inspired you, Becky! This part of the world is beautiful and your plan sounds just about perfect to me.

  2. Love this post – looking at things in a new way is what exploring nature is all about. We love tide pooling – in fact, both of the kids asked to add it to our Summer Fun List. The beach gets a little warm in L.A. during summer, but you can be sure we’ll get out there. And thanks so much for the kind words about my blog. 🙂

    • I just love your blog, Debi. We were back at the tidepools today and it was much warmer, but the cool water and ocean breeze were respite from the heat.

  3. We will have to look for tidepool when we go to the beach. They look like a wonderful place to explore.

    • Oh yes, you’ll enjoy them, I’m sure! We were back again today and the beach was swarming with little kids.

  4. I love those tidepools, and we also haven’t been since last June. You’ve inspired me to break my patterns too and do something more out of the ordinary. It will be a totally new experience without me carrying C in the Ergo 🙂 Thanks, as always, for the great ideas!

    • You can do it, Aleksandra! I’d love to hear what new things you come up with. And maybe we could plan a trip out there together.

  5. I have so many fond memories of exploring those California tide pools… They aren’t the same in our neck of the woods. I can’t wait to introduce the girls to them 🙂 Thanks for the great post!

    • Your girls will be in heaven out here, Mariah!

  6. What a gorgeous post Rachelle. Love the pics. I want to go there now. Last summer we discovered a beautiful Lake Erie beach (yes here in NE Ohio) and C loved it. It was 1.5 hours away,but well worth it and an eye opening experience for us like you mention above. We visited many times and we’ll be back again. This beach had some sea plants that you would normally find only on the east coast of the US and C thought it was the ocean!

    • Thanks so much, Melissa! The crazy thing is that I snapped these with my iPhone, but I think they’re pretty hot, too. Isn’t that fascinating that you could find sea plants in Ohio? I learn something new all the time! And, well, Lake Erie does looks just like the Ocean when you’re right up in it.

  7. So fun! We are going to Oregon this summer so I’ll keep my eyes out for some tide pools.

    Love the picture of just the dress/feet with the rocks. Without having a sense of the surroundings, it looks like a giant standing next to a river with mountains in the background. Maybe that sounds crazy but look at it again and see what you think. 🙂

    • Ha! Maria, I totally see it. I really loved that photo, and now I have a little clue into why. I bet that Oregon has some good tidepooling. If you go, I’d love to hear about it.

  8. Love this post! We’ve never been tidepooling, so you just gave me an idea to add to my list!

    • Oh, yes, you should definitely do it, Danielle! You would not be disappointed. Thanks for the nice comment 🙂

  9. New to your blog and loving it. I am a fellow Californian and I have yet to be to Fitzgerald Preserve. We have talked about going a few times but maybe this is the year. (We live in El Dorado County so it is a long day trip for us.)

    Love tidepools and I think tights and tidepools…why not?

Comments are closed.