Although all children seem to love being on the beach, sometimes you need to have some ideas for keeping them entertained above and beyond swimming and building sandcastles. We have tried to provide some inspiration here.
Dig a channel to the sea.
Make a dam (use sand, pebbles and other beach finds).
Dig a hole and try to fill it up with water!
Have a go at sand sculpture. What about making a turtle or a mermaid?
Search for driftwood, shells, seaweed, crabs, sea glass etc
See if you can find a pebble or shell with a ready-made hole in it, to string on a cord for a necklace.
Collect pebbles, shells, seaweed and other "found" objects and make them into pictures on the beach.
Award a prize - real or honorary - for the person who can bring back the most interesting "find".
Build a boat or a car in the sand big enough to sit in. Great for imaginary journeys.
Draw pictures, words and puzzles in the sand with a stick.
Design pictures using pebbles, rocks, seaweed and shells - whatever you can gather.
There's always room on the beach for another sandcastle!
Build a city - not just a sandcastle.
Build a "sandman" - the sand equivalent of a snowman. He should turn a few heads!
Make footprints in the sand. They don't have to be your own .. why not try some dinosaur footprints instead?
With a little bit of preparation you can make a cast of your children's feet, hands, or perhaps some interesting objects that they have found. You will need to take a container in which to mix up your Plaster of Paris (use bottled water, not salt water). For really smooth edges you might want to take a container (perhaps a box or a cake tin) in which to make your mould, or you can just use the sand directly on the beach. First, make sure the sand is damp enough to hold a shape but not too wet. Press your object or body part into the sand to leave a good impression. Mix up your Plaster of Paris and quickly pour it into the mould. It should be dry enough to lift up carefully in about half an hour: wrap it loosely in bubble wrap or newspaper and take it home to dry completely before trying to remove any clinging sand.
Keep Your Bottle
This game is particularly good at family parties or with mixed age groups, and is definitely a warm weather, outdoor game! A great game for a large beach party.
The Splash Game
Not for the faint-hearted, this game is best played out of doors when clothes don't really matter! It works with mixed family age-groups if everyone who takes part is a good sport, and will cause much hilarity..
Ping Pong Ball Race
Dig a series of sloping channels wide enough (and smooth enough) to take a ping pong ball. Make them equal length, or have slightly longer channels for older children and adults. Place a ping pong ball at one end and then race each other blowing the ball down the channel to the finish line.
Beach Mini Golf
Make your own mini golf course in the sand. Players take turns with a plastic golf club and ball - or whatever you have to hand with which you can improvise.
Get the Frisbee out and challenge the family to a game.
- Set up some targets in the sand and see who can throw the Frisbee nearest to them.
- Set up some "bottles" (plastic, please!) in the sand, and see who can knock them over.
- Play Frisbee golf. Make your own devious course in the sand and take it in turns to complete a "hole", which might be a circle marked out in the sand. Perhaps you will have to go around the picnic basket to get there?
- Just throwing a Frisbee back and forth between players can be enough to keep children entertained for a good long while
Some beaches have a proper volleyball court but it is often monopolised by older children and young adults. If there is space on the beach you can always set up your own version, improvising with windbreaks, picnic baskets or a portable badminton net. Make up your own rules, too.
French Cricket is a very popular game with older children and teenagers, but it is fun in a family gathering too. You need at least 6 players for a good game, and a fairly large space to play.
Bowls (Boules, Petanque)
It is definitely worth investing in a set of plastic bowls for a day at the beach, especially if you are going with a mixed age-group - it seems to be a game that grandparents particularly enjoy! Or improvise your own: you will need 4 pairs of matching balls in an appropriate size for your children, as well as a small ball to act as the target.