Hermit Crabs a Hit at Aquarium’s Aquatots Program

June 11, 2013

Newport, Oregon— Preschoolers plop onto stuffed sea creatures or climb into parents’ laps as they settle in for Aquatots in the Oregon Coast Aquarium’s theatre.

A volunteer reads A House for a Hermit Crab, by Eric Carle, and periodically pauses to let rambunctious kids add the decorations described in the story to a hermit crab puppet’s shell.

Once the story ends, the kids are called to the front to meet two live hermit crabs. The hermit crabs were shy at first; it took careful coaxing to convince them to peek out of their shells. The emergence of a leg or claw elicited squeals of delight from the children gathered around them.

Lucy, who attended Aquatots with her grandmother, said this program was her favorite so far, “I liked the hermit crabs because I got to look at them for real.”

The session ended with the crayons and bins full of stickers for kids to decorate their own paper hermit crab shell. Some dedicated a great deal of attention to their art, others were busy playing in the costumes and stuffed animal pit in the Aquarium’s theatre. This unstructured play is exactly what the Aquarium hoped to encourage when the staff decided to convert the theatre to a play area as a part of The Sea & Me exhibit.

Aquatots, an education program for kids ages three to five, is designed to connect them with the underwater world. Nathan Hancock explained he and his wife bring their daughter to Aquatots because, “It’s an interactive learning experience for her. My wife and I work at NOAA and we bring her here so she can see some of the stuff we work with.”

Aquatots is on the second Wednesday of every month at 10:30 a.m. in the Aquarium theatre. The program is free with the cost of admission, which is just $5 for Lincoln County residents on Wednesdays.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is dedicated to the highest quality aquatic and marine science programs for recreation and education so that the public better understands, cherishes, and conserves the world’s natural marine and coastal resources. An accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums institution, this 501(c)3 non-profit organization is ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. Visit us at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, OR. www.aquarium.org, 541-867-3474. Follow us on Facebook.com/OregonCoastAquarium, or Twitter.com/OrCoastAquarium for the latest updates.
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