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Creatures go from ocean to classroom

Ocean and wildlife educators are making a splash at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach.

Club members recently enjoyed a hands-on lesson about the ocean’s creatures in a “visiting classroom” presentation by the Ocean Institute of Dana Point, sponsored by its “Adopt-a-Class” program and the Hearts of Montage. Club pre-schoolers took a field trip to the institute, where they explored the depths of the sea.

After story time in the classroom with Eric Carle’s “A House for Hermit Crab,” the children got to observe and touch creatures in a mobile aquarium and compare and contrast them with those illustrated in the book.

“The favorite part of the visiting lab for the kids was touching the animals,” said Terry Anne Barman, early childhood and family services director at the club. “They got to feel sea urchins, stars and anemones and hold hermit crabs in their hands.”


The inquisitive group of kids were excited to discover that hermit crabs would crawl out of their shells if they held their hands still and were quiet, Barman said, and to learn that when starfish lose their legs, they grow new ones.

“These hands-on activities are so important for young children,” she said. “It’s especially exciting to provide this opportunity to low-income children who don’t often have these types of learning experiences.”

The club’s Even Start Preschool Program kids took a guided tour of the institute and learned about the tidal animals and their natural habitats through site seeing and hands-on activities.

Staff members engaged the young minds in learning activities that combined sea life, counting and ABCs, Barman said, which was developmentally appropriate and of great interest to the kids.


“They also learned to identify animal sounds and specific environments through slides and auditory exercises,” she said.

“These kids will be able to pull on this real life experience later in life to help them learn and to generate enthusiasm for the sciences, which is a great thing.”

The club plans to explore Laguna’s tidepools with the kids in the near future, to further their education about sea life and caring for their environment.

The Hearts of Montage is a philanthropic program at the Montage Resort and Spa.