Do you wait all week for a cherished day off to take your kids to the ocean or lake, presumably to relax, only to have them turn into crazed little creatures and you into the unofficial beach police?!
Maybe they squabble over sand pails and shovels, dig the usual (ho-hum) trenches or argue about who dropped the last cookie in the sand–their energy levels so high you’re afraid they’ll just about take off into the wide blue yonder (and if they come crashing down into the waves, you’ll only have to reapply sunscreen). These ideas for exciting family beach activities and fun, creative sand art will help channel that excess energy and draw out their inner Georgia O’Keeffe’s—keeping everyone busy and happy!
City by the Sea: While sand castles can be fun to make, in most instances kids are finished in a short time and looking for something else to do. For a fun family project, designing an entire village, shopping center, airport, etc. the night before and bringing those drawings to the beach can result in hours creating the ultimate city in sand (no time to cry over spilt milk–or cookies, as it is). Or, spend the same amount of time together building a car, bus, train, plane or rocket big enough to hold the whole family.
Beach Map: Think you know your geography? Using long sticks, try outlining a wet sand map of the United States or Canada, depending on where you live, replete with every state or province (and maybe the capitals)–and name them!
Bucket Brigade: Divide your family into two teams and set two buckets or pails 10 feet back from the shoreline. Each team member must start at the water’s edge and “scoop” up the seawater in their bare hands, walking carefully to deposit it in the container. The first team to fill it wins.
Bandana-rama: One person (usually an adult or older child) tucks as many bandanas as possible into a swim suit, sweatshirt, under a hat, etc. Be sure to leave a tail out of each. Players try to collect as many as possible until they are all gone.
Shell and Pebble Toss: First, give everyone a designated number of minutes to comb the beach for shells, pebbles or very small rocks (smaller is better to prevent injuries when they are thrown). Draw concentric circles in the sand like a target with a bull’s-eye. Everyone takes a turn tossing from varying distances (keep getting farther out with each round) to hit the bull’s-eye. Those who’ve collected the most to toss get to take the most turns. Maybe the grand prize is a two-scoop ice cream cone that night!
Beach Ball Balance: Each team consists of two people. The ball must make it untouched to the finish line, maybe squeezed between two stomachs, shoulder to shoulder, back to back, etc. No hands please!
On their website, Land Art for Kids, Richard Shilling and Julia Brooklyn provide step-by-step information about what to create and how to create it from natural materials found in forests, on mountains, in parks and at the beach. Try collecting piles of sea shells, stones (large and small), driftwood, seaweed, grasses, dried sea creatures and anything else you might find to make inventive sculptures in the sand, or use wet sand as your canvas and “paint” with the elements you’ve collected. It may not last a lifetime, but the memories surely can.