Marine Biology for Kids: Learning Meets Play at AcquaMarine
Located just steps from Sunny Isles Beach, the vibrant children’s center is a place for both education and play – offering unique opportunities to learn about the sea while participating in outdoor games, team-building activities, and arts and crafts. Named the #1 Family Resort in the World in Andrew Harper’s Readers’ Choice Awards, Acqualina welcomes all guests ages 5 to 12 to the program complimentary.
Upon entering AcquaMarine, children are greeted by eye-catching marine images and a ceiling made from a turquoise stretch film to create the illusion of being underwater. The 500-square-foot center was inspired by the ocean and the life within – as are the programs available daily.
Whether creating papier-mâché stingrays, playing ocean-themed games in the glistening pool outside, or viewing coral under a microscope, children discover a new appreciation for the sea through hands-on activities. Between six and fifteen children attend the program on any given day (with additional counselors available for large groups), and each day brings a different theme, from The Colorful World of Reefs to Predators of the Sea.
On a Squishy Stingers day, the morning may begin with a create-your-own jellyfish craft – during which time counselors get to know all of the children before beginning to integrate educational aspects into the activity. Rather than feeling like a class, the goal of AcquaMarine is for learning to happen through conversation, video, and more. Kids learn everything from the classification and anatomy of a jellyfish to its habitat.
Outdoors, the games are all jellyfish-themed. In one activity, kids limbo under a pole streaming with jellyfish “tentacles” and try to avoid both, while another resembles tag. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the grounds and the nearby beach, the children make new friends while enjoying the sunshine.
Perhaps the most memorable activity of the day, though, is the jellyfish-in-a-bottle craft. To illustrate the importance of keeping plastic bags and other trash out of the ocean, children place iridescent film paper in a water-filled two-liter bottle. The film paper has the appearance of a jellyfish, and turtles and other marine creatures think so too when they try to consume it.
“I definitely think the jellyfish activity opens the eyes of children and us as adults,” says Guest Relations Manager Mariana Go. “We learn how important it is that we don’t throw trash out into the ocean or even outside on the street.”
Another day might consist of activities and crafts like paper plate sand dollars, diving for toys in the pool, dodgeball on the lawn, and clothespin sea stars for the Stars of the Sea theme. And oftentimes, children leave with keepsakes in addition to their crafts.
Parents can join in on the fun too, with the “WatchMeGrow” program, a video-streaming service that allows parents and other approved family members to view their children throughout the day. “If they are interested,” says Mariana, “there’s a link that is personalized for them so they can look into the room whenever they would like.”
Since its inception 10 years ago, the program has grown to include new activities and educational aspects, and this year is no different. An array of fresh curriculums and experiences will debut in early 2018.
AcquaMarine is open Monday through Friday from 11 am to 3 pm and Saturday through Sunday from 10 am to 4 pm.