By BRIDGET TURCOTTE
Katherine Rice looks for sea life with her binoculars during the Winter Beach Safari on Revere Beach.
REVERE — With a weeklong break from school, children are taking to the state’s beaches and marshes to explore and learn about the world around them.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation is hosting several free activities from now until Monday, when most students return to school.
At Revere Beach on Wednesday, Park Ranger Matthew Nash taught a group of children and their moms about the common shells that wash up on the sand. He identified oyster shells, mussel shells, snails, periwinkles, crab claws and razor clams, and showed them how a moon snail uses its radula to create a hole in a clam shell and suck out the meat.
The elementary-aged students identified items they hadn’t yet learned about and came at Nash equipped with plenty of questions.
Six-year-old Katherine Rice arrived prepared with binoculars, a bird book and a clipboard.
“I like looking around and being at the beach,” she said.
Her mom, biologist Melissa Rice, said she enjoyed spending time at the beach without the crowds.
“We live in Malden so we go to the Stone Zoo a lot to learn about animals and wildlife,” said Lisa Sears, who brought her daughter. “We’re always looking for fun and interesting fact-based programs where my daughter can run around.”
The same program will be offered today at 1 p.m. at Nahant Beach in Lynn. Participants should meet at the James J. Ward Bath House on the ocean side near the outdoor showers.
Wednesday morning Nash led a small group of bird watchers who came across a snowy owl on Winthrop Beach.
A Winter Wildlife Detectives activity will be today at 9 a.m. at the Belle Isle Marsh Reservation. Children can learn about coyotes and other creatures that are active during the winter. Nash asks that attendees wear hiking boots or shoes and consider the weather when layering up.
“School vacation week serves as an excellent opportunity for people of all ages to get outside and enjoy the natural world that surrounds us,” said Energy of Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton in a statement. “I encourage residents and families to explore the commonwealth’s many environmental, cultural and recreational resources.”
Bridget Turcotte can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @BridgetTurcotte.