The beach is a magical place at any age, with the tranquillity of the sea and the sand between your toes. Never mind sand everywhere — you can share the delights of of the beach and build early memories. Jackie Cambridge, mum of two and Educational Manager at Kiddi Caru Day Nurseries Group has more than 30 years’ knowledge of child development and here she shares her ideas of fun beach activities with your child, whether you are jetting off to a seaside holiday or visiting for a day trip.
Games to play with seashells
Shells come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours! If it’s your child’s first experience at the seaside, then they may have never seen a real shell before. So,
- Take a stroll along the shore with your little one to collect as many shells as you can find, counting them together as you put them in your bucket.
- Wash the shells off with some sea water and allow your child to explore them at their own pace, looking at the texture and patterns, before sorting them into size or color order across the sand to encourage early mathematic skills and understanding.
- Shells also make great natural stamps. Ask your child to press the shells into the wet sand to see the marks they make and watch how the waves make the marks disappear!
- Let your child choose a favourite shell to take home to mark in play dough or use as an alternative painting tool.
Activities to do with sand and babies
Sand provides such a wonderful sensory experience and is a diverse substance that, in the hand of little ones, can be molded and used in open ended play.
- Ask your child what they would like to sculpt from the sand, help them to scoop it into buckets and find additional tools such as driftwood and shells to decorate their sculpture. Then let them take the lead. Being your child’s helper and encouraging them to be the decision maker whilst creating the sculpture will help build their confidence and self-esteem – allowing their imagination to fly, taking you along for the ride!
- Dig a hole. We all love to try to dig the deepest and biggest! Once you’ve dug your hole with your child, ask them how many buckets of water they think they will need to collect to fill it. As the sand absorbs the water, you’ll need to race with your little one to keep it full! How many buckets did you count at the end? Were your predictions correct?
- As you walk across the beach point out your footprints in the sand to your child, encourage their vocabulary by using easy phrases such as ‘big’ and ‘small’, as you compare your footprints.
Games to play in the waves at the beach
- When you first arrive at the beach and set up camp, count with your child how many steps it takes you to get to the waves. Repeat throughout the day to see how the number of steps change. It’s an easy way for your child to observe how the tide goes in and out.
- If you visit a pebbled (shingle) beach, why not stand at the shoreline and practice throwing pebbles into the sea? See who can throw them the furthest and if you can make them skim the surface. Discuss how the pebbles feel and look before you throw them – are some round, flat, small, big, heavy, light, smooth or rough?
Do a seaside sensory walk with your baby
Sensory walks are a beloved activity where children can use their senses in turn to describe what they can see, hear, smell and feel in their current environment. This helps to focus their attention and use their descriptive vocabulary.
- Ask them how the sand feels, what birds can they hear, can they smell the sea or taste the salty spray from the waves? You can even record some of their favourite sounds to play back later and recall what made that sound.
Play with driftwood
- Everyone loves to take home a memento from a wonderful time by the sea. Why not make it yourself? Collect driftwood with your child along the beach and position the pieces on the sand to create a large picture frame, then use your collected pebbles and shells to make your own transient art creation. Put your family in the frame too and take a snap to display at home or have your little one take into their nursery to show and tell all their friends about their trip to the beach!
Go rock pooling at the beach
- Children will love to discover the creatures of the deep in a safer and shallower environment than the sea by partaking in rock pooling. As the tide goes out, it reveals rocky surfaces on the shore that were previously under the sea. You’ll uncover pools of water in the natural holes and rock trenches, creating miniature habitats for small sea life and plants. This gives little ones the opportunity to try and spot different species such as sea snails, limpets, crabs, anemones and sea weed, amongst others. BEWARE: Some rock pools can be up to 2.5m deep, which is enough to submerge very tall grown adult, this means little ones need to be supervised at all times during this activity and it is best to stick to the shallow pools.
The possibilities are endless at the beach and the opportunities for fun activities are everywhere, but there are dangers of the ocean to your little one before and during your seaside visit. Make sure they are safe and that they know not to approach the waves without you.
Pin it for later: Six child-friendly beach activities to try this summer on Pinterest
About Kiddi Caru Day Nurseries Group: Kiddi Caru Day Nurseries and Preschools are a child care group with nurseries based in the midlands and south of England. They currently have over 40 nurseries that offer care and support to babies and children from newborn to 5-years-old.