Family Workshops

Dive deeper into ocean science as a family through our Sanctuary Visitor Center Family Workshops. Led by our team of marine science educators, these weekend workshops are perfect for 4-10 year old ocean enthusiasts and their favorite adults. Family Workshops are hosted in partnership with Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries.

Be the first to hear about upcoming workshops! You’ll receive direct emails when registration opens.

Past Family Workshops

Blue whale as seen from above

Wonderful Whales

Weighing in at 300,000 pounds and 100 ft long, the Blue whale takes the gold for being the largest animal. Utilizing Crissy Beach and our pier building, participants will begin to understand how this magnificent creature survives in our ocean. This class will help you visualize the feeding habits, behaviors, and current threats to whales in our sanctuary through interactive games, videos, and hands-on demonstrations, culminating in a mini-beach clean-up.

Plankton through a microscope

Plankton Discovery

Join us for an exciting exploration of the weird and wonderful world of plankton in the waters just off Crissy Field. Be dazzled by diatoms, dinoflagellates and copepods. Discover bizarre larvae from barnacles, crabs and mussels. Participants will be led through a discovery of plankton in water samples collected by our own resident Plankton expert, Janai, as she navigates the world of microscopes and micro plants and animals.

A crab being held

Lives of Crabs

Attention all creative crustaceans! Prepare your claws and carapaces for a family event devoted entirely to crabs! Learn about crab anatomy from our special crab guest. Look at live crabs from the visitor center and learn how they grow with a fun virtual game.

Stellar sea lion with pup

Pinniped Party & Simply Sea Otters

Join us as we delve into the lifestyle of the most otterly adorable marine mammals. Participants will learn the important role that seals, sea lions, and sea otters play in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, especially in the kelp forest habitat. Touch real pelts and skulls as well as view photos and videos of these hairy creatures. Attendees will end the class playing a life-sized board game dedicated entirely to sea otters.

Leatherback sea turtle swimming on the surface

Life as a Leatherback

Learn what it takes to be the world’s largest species of turtle. Participants will discover the life cycle of a leatherback turtle through interactive games and stories. Explore sea turtle skulls and specimens as well as witness real scientific video footage of a Leatherback foraging for food in the sanctuary. Attendees will also team up to assemble a life-size Leatherback model. Ages 4-10 and their families.

Kids exploring the sandy beach

Explore Sand Crabs

Ever wondered what’s right below your feet when walking on the sandy beach? Wonder what those shorebirds are digging for with their skinny bills? Get ready to learn about the incredible life of sand crabs! Participants will become citizen scientists and help monitor the abundance of these extraordinary creatures all right at the beach along Crissy Field. Come prepared to get your toes wet! The afternoon class has the best tide! Ages 4-10 and their families.

Bull Kelp-Photo Credit Keith Johnson

Phycology Phamily Workshop

Are you keen on kelp? Do you think algae is altogether alluring? Join us for our first-ever Phycology Phamily Workshop, where participants will learn about the fantastic forest of kelp that grows just offshore in our sanctuary. What is phycology, you ask? Attend this family workshop and find out! Explore Crissy Field for samples, make algae arts and crafts, and learn just how important kelp forests are to the health of our underwater ecosystems. Ages 4-10 and their families.

An octopus with suckers visible


Join us for OctoLab! Participants will discover one of the ocean’s most intelligent invertebrates – the octopus! Teams will measure, weigh, study, touch, examine, and squish their way through the lab using their own defrosted octopus specimen Participants will also get to compare octopus to their closest relatives – squid and cuttlefish! As the grand finale, we will create octopus stop motion videos as well as octopus prints for you to take home as keepsakes.

Bioblitz in action on the beach

Bioblitz! Family Workshop

Embrace your inner naturalist for a family BIOBLITZ. The idea is simple: Hunt for as many animals as possible using nets, binoculars, and hands. There are crabs, fish, snails, birds, worms, and much more waiting to be discovered! We’ll be combing the beach, searching the waters around our pier classroom and exploring our visitor center aquarium. Ages 4-10 and their families.

Family Workshop occurring in classroom

Squid for Squirts

Obsessed with octopuses? Intrigued by ink? Tickled by tentacles? Delve into the watery world of cephalopods! Watch squid and octopus films. Learn about Humboldt squid adaptations through our naturalist led dissection. Make your own Humboldt squid print souvenirs. And finally, participants get to dissect their own market squids using blunt-nose scissors. Ages 4-10 and their families.

ROV class with children occurring

Build an ROV

Engineers wanted! Join us for our brand-new Build an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) program. Participants will learn about the important parts of a ROV and how they help scientists discover the mysteries of the deep ocean. They will watch real footage from deep-sea submersible explorations taken in the marine sanctuaries along our California coast. Participants will design and build their own ROVs and test drive them in the water off of our pier classroom!

Pelican flying just above the water

Seabird Sleuthing

Calling all birders-in-training! Prepare yourselves for a seabird spectacle. Participants will be led on a seabird discovery walk of Crissy Field with our Naturalist, Greg. Observe Pelicans soaring, Cormorants diving, and Gulls scavenging all through the lens of your own pair of binoculars, which we provide! Post-walk, participants will dissect an Albatross bolus. Don’t know what that is? Attend to find out!

Group exploring sand crabs on the beach

Sand Scientists

It’s time to become a sand scientist! In this workshop, participants will examine the sand on Crissy Field beach as a scientist would. Collect sand samples and sieve out the creatures that live amongst the grains. Transport your sand samples back to the “sand lab” and examine it under the microscope. Afterward, processed sand will be used for a creative art project. Come prepared to get your hands sandy and to have fun!

Adorable sea otter floats on its back

Simply Sea Otters

Join us as we delve into the lifestyle of the most otterly adorable marine mammal. Participants will learn the important role that sea otters play in maintaining a healthy kelp forest habitat. Touch real sea otter pelts and skulls as well as view photos and videos of these hairy creatures. Attendees will end the class playing a life-sized board game dedicated entirely to this important mammal.

Sign up for our monthly newsletter to receive updates on upcoming virtual events, and more!

Follow Us for Event Updates