Lessons from the Sand: A Budding Naturalist Explores

Cover image of Lessons from the SandEver wonder where sand comes from? Or why shells are colored differently? Or how to estimate the size of a wave? Featuring more than forty fun hands-on activities for families with children, Lessons from the Sand: Family-Friendly Science Activities You Can Do on a Carolina Beach, by Charles and Orrin Pilkey, reveals the science behind the amazing natural wonders found on the beaches of North Carolina and South Carolina. Easy-to-do experiments will help parents and kids discover the ways water, wind, sand, plants, animals, and people interact to shape the constantly changing beaches we love to visit.

In today’s guest post, H., a twelve-year-old budding naturalist, describes his adventures at the beach, guided by the Pilkeys’ book.


Recently, my parents and I went to the Outer Banks for the weekend. Unfortunately, the red flags were out so my mom wouldn’t let me go into the water. Fortunately, we had a copy of Lessons from the Sand with us, and we made our own fun out of the water. We ran up and down the beach exploring:

beach features - wind ripples and dune creation

ripple marks (page 76),


identifying seaweed (page 146),

measuring waves

and measuring wave heights (page 8).

 black sand activity 13a from Lessons from the Sand

In one activity, I learned that black sand is heavier than regular sand (page 66). Crazy, right? Not really, because black sand is made up of heavier minerals that were carried from the Appalachians down rivers through the Piedmont to the OBX.

Lessons from the Sand photo 2 - animal tracks

But my favorite activity was identifying animals by their tracks, like these made by ghost crabs and other critters (page 85).

I can’t wait to go back to the beach, and even if my mom does let me get into the water, I am definitely going to spend some time on the beach doing more fun things from Lessons from the Sand.

H., age 12