Field Work Friday – Exploring Shackleford Island



While we were on the North Carolina shore a few weeks ago, we took the ferry to Shackleford Island to do some exploring.  Shackleford is home to more than 100 wild horses, and it’s also known as one of the East Coast’s best shelling beaches.  I still don’t know why that is, but we had fun confirming it.

Exploring Shackleford Island

I bought a simple North Carolina shelling guide at a book store on Emerald Isle.  It’s a really big waterproof pamphlet, perfect for taking out onto the beach to identify shells and wildlife.  We used it a lot after our expedition to Shackleford because we had lots of shells to identify, some of which we’d never seen before. 

We dressed in swimsuits with clothes over top, and that was perfect for our trip.  The ferry drops you off on the sound side of the island, and while we decided that the ponies would be fun to see, our goal was to find fun seashells.  The captain directed us to the ocean side of the island, and after walking across we hadn’t gone far before we found huge pieces of shells.  Walking in the surf as the tide was coming in, huge WHOLE shells started rolling in right at my feet.  I’ve never seen anything like it!  While my husband and My Little Man eventually took off to explore more of the island, My Big Helper and I found a good spot where the waves were crossing paths and started shelling.  We found whole conchs, Sallie’s Augers, big pieces of sand dollars, and whelks, too.  We’re still trying to identify exactly which within those categories some of the shells are, but it was an amazing experience.

While our intention wasn’t to ‘do school’ – we were just joining some family members on the trip – it was the perfect way to do it.  We sat on a beach towel, eating apples and crackers, soaking up the sun and identifying shells and wildlife.  We compared shell edges and measured the with our fingers as my husband explained about the tides and the geography of the Outer Banks.  It was science and math and research and nature all rolled into one.

I love homeschooling.

As an added bonus, the ponies were hanging out near the ferry pick-up when it was time for our trip back to the mainland, and we got to see five.  Score!

I’ve also discovered that we love seashells, so we’re going to be working to make official collections with our shells over the next few weeks.  Fun!

Do you like seashells? What’s your favorite field trip ever?


  1. nourishingmyscholar says:

    Wow! How awesome that the ponies were that close! Looks like a great field trip 🙂

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