Children are the future and we must not only take steps ourselves to protect the environment and oceans but educate the future custodians of our planet. As many parents are currently enjoying the excitement, trials and tribulations of home learning, extending this to much-needed free time doesn’t have to be boring and can be great fun for the whole family. Here are five fun activities for parents to teach their children the importance of protecting the oceans…
Go to the beach
The best way to get kids excited and learning about the ocean is to take them directly to the source. We are fortunate to have so many beaches here in the UAE, so why not pack the car with beach time activities and make a day of it. Snorkelling is a great option as it is easy to learn and relatively inexpensive, and most importantly it allows children to play in the ocean and experience marine life first hand.
Volunteer for a beach cleanup
Of course, some children are not keen on the water, or ready to get their feet wet. However, just having them by the ocean exposes them to its beauty and can foster an appreciation of it. Look up local beach clean-ups, such as those found on the Azraq website, and have the family take part. This will provide a great learning opportunity to explain about polluting and the detrimental effects it can have on marine life.
Read about the ocean
All children love a bedtime story and this can be a great way teach children about the ocean and protecting it. Books, such as The Rainbow Fish, The Big Book of the Blue, The Eco Heroes and the Plastic Planet and What a Waste, are a great way to get kids thinking and learning. Open up a conversation after reading the book to ask your child what they learned and if they have any questions. The more they know, the more they will understand the importance of protecting the oceans.
Go dolphin watching
The Arabian Gulf is endemic to a local dolphin species called the Arabian humpback dolphin, which can be seen from the shore, particularly at Saadiyat Island and near to Lulu Island in Abu Dhabi, as well as from the coastlines of Dubai and Fujairah. Keep an eye on the social media pages of the UAE Dolphin Project and the Fujairah Whale Project for news of recent sightings.
Choose toys wisely
Children tend to get attached to toys and it can be a great way to teach them about the ocean and protecting them, as well as letting kids explore their imagination. Dependent on your child’s preference, give them sustainable soft toys or perhaps eco-friendly rubber toys to play with. They could play with them in the water at bath time, too.
There are many ways you can teach your child about protecting the ocean and it is easy to incorporate helpful but fun activities into your day to day life. Whatever resonates with your child, remember to keep it simple and fun.
Natalie Banks started her career as a journalist and media adviser in Australia before moving into the not-for-profit sector. A certified scuba diving instructor and marine conservationist, she was instrumental in organizing national and international rallies against the use of drum lines and shark nets in Australia in favor of non-lethal alternatives, later striating up her own association, No Shark Cull. After moving to Dubai, Banks formed and developed Azraq to educate and motivate people toward a more sustainable form of living.