Making Cents: Head for the coast and make the seaside your playground this summer

This week the Irish Examiner is running Ocean Week, a celebration of the importance of the waters that surround us. 
Making Cents: Head for the coast and make the seaside your playground this summer
Resources are available online to help parents and children learn more about the ocean and make the most of trips to Ireland’s shores, including at

Most children have an innate love of water, from earliest bath times to seaside trips. But it can be hard to know how to build on that love while giving them a deep appreciation of the importance of our oceans, and the need to protect them.

For parents who were never involved in water-based activities such as sailing or surfing, these worlds can appear exclusive, and swimming lessons are more likely to take place in a pool than open water.

Normally, I would search this week for affordable summer camps to recommend, where children could try out new activities and learn about the ocean while doing it. 

And, despite the Covid-19 restrictions, there are some activities available to families around the country.

However, many parents are more comfortable restricting their adventures to the family group this summer. 

The good news is that there are resources available online to help parents and children learn more about the ocean and make the most of trips to Ireland’s shores. is the home website for The Marine Institute, the State agency responsible for marine research and technology development and innovation in Ireland. 

The site has an extensive section dedicated to developing young people’s interest, knowledge, and engagement in our ocean.

The Explorers Education Programme aims to build on Ireland’s marine and maritime heritage by increasing awareness of the value, opportunities, and social benefits of our ocean wealth and identity. 

Parents will find great ways to educate and entertain their children, with resources available to teach them about the ocean, both at home and on trips to the seaside.

These include a range of posters, fact sheets, workbooks, and colouring sheets that can be downloaded.

There is an ongoing series of video lessons teaching children how to draw marine animals, research vessels, surfers, divers, and lots more online. 

The series starts with cartoonist and author Dr John Joyce drawing fishy faces, dolphins, whales, ships, and research vessels, as well as surfers, divers, and more. There are three episodes already available, with more to come.

There are also lesson plans, created as resources for primary school teachers but which are also available to parents. 

These offer ways to integrate marine themes into the various subjects taught at primary level, including but not limited to science, geography, music, and physical education. 

There are lessons created for each stage of school development, so parents can choose activities appropriate for their children’s age and development. 

Younger children can have fun moving like an ocean animal, while older children can learn about the importance of the ocean to our food and farming and how an Irish historical figure influenced the design of submarines.

As the institute pointed out during the earlier phases of Covid-19 restrictions, 1.9 million of us live within 5km of the ocean. 

And even those a little further inland don’t have too far to travel to reach the shore — one of the best benefits of living on a small island. also has resources available to make the most of a trip, with guides to activities, which can be used in preparation for going to the seashore, activities on the seashore, as well as projects that can be completed after the trip.

Deal of the week

Recent research from the Commission for Regulation of Utilities revealed that the number of electricity switchers during lockdown was down 25% on the same month last year, and the number of gas switchers was down 38%.

Switching energy suppliers is a recommended way to keep bills down but for many of us, it remains forever on the to-do list. 

If this is you, one option to consider is the online service from Cork company This aims to combat switching inertia and take the hassle out of moving energy providers every 12 months by doing the switching for customers after a once-off sign-up.

Customers enter a few basic details and each year when their contract expires, the service moves them to the best energy deal on the market, tailored to their consumption profile.

Find out more and see if the service is right for you at

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