Turn your sweet snack into a science activity.

Coastal Erosion Activities for Kids Using Cookies & Milk

by Erica Loop

Whether it comes from ultra-strong waves, storm activity, flooding or man-made destruction, coastal erosion causes close to $500 million each year in property and land loss. While it's unlikely that your child can think up a way to stop storms from hitting the beach, teaching a lesson on this subject can help her to understand this ever-evolving process. Add in a cookie and some milk to your lesson and you have a recipe for pure educational entertainment.

1. Soggy Cookie Activity

A milk-soaked vanilla wafer isn't just a tasty treat. This soft, easily crumbled cookie is perfect for an erosion experiment. Create a base for your ocean and beach in a shallow rectangle-shaped casserole dish. Make the coast out of the cookies by layering them in rows along half of the pan. Ask your child to describe the edge of the cookie shore. Is it smooth? Firm? Easy for imaginary people to walk or build on? Next, add the milk. Pour a cup of milk into the ocean -- the empty side of the pan. Gently lift the bottom of the pan so that the milk washes up over the shore just like waves do on the beach. As the milky waves hit the shore cookies, have your child notice how the now-soggy cookies are breaking apart.

2. Man-Made Erosion

Not all coastal erosion is a result of natural forces. Sometimes people can cause the shore to slide away by inappropriately building on the delicate sandy land. Show this ecologically irresponsible action to your child with a forceful cookie activity. Make a line of your little learner's favorite cookies inside a shallow pan. Add an ocean of milk to the remaining, non-cookie covered, area. Give your child a craft stick to use as her own mini jackhammer. Let her hammer the edge of the cookies, closest to the milk, with the craft stick to see how bits and pieces can easily break off and erode away the crunchy coast.

3. Waves and Flooding

Looking at the coast after a super-storm that includes strong waves and flooding, it's easy to see how the beach can erode away. Storm and wave damage to high impact places such as the southeastern barrier islands can make the shoreline recede at a rate of 25 feet per year. Recreate mega-waves and flooding with a few cookies and a milk flow. Line half of a 4-inch high, or taller, plastic food storage container with frosting and place a row of cookies on top. Show your child how the frosting holds the cookies in place. Slowly pour a glass of milk into the container. Rock the container back and forth to create waves and flood the cookies. Continue for five minutes until the cookies begin to release from the frosting and wash away.

4. Buildings and Erosion

Coastal erosion does more damage than just removing sand from the beach. Homes and other structures built on the coast can crumble and fall as beach destruction happens. Create a cookie beach that has several structures on it. Line a shallow pan or dish with wafers to simulate the coast. Add toy buildings or make your own gingerbread house style using thin cookie walls and frosting mortar. Pour milk over the buildings to re-create a torrential rain storm, and move the milk over the shore to simulate waves. As the milk rains down on the buildings they, along with the cookie coast, will begin to fall and wash away. The buildings will also collapse as the cookie coast erodes away beneath them.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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