1. Sand Digging
Nothing beats good-old digging in the sand. Get your kids to see how deep of a hole they can dig and when they’ve dug as far as they can, see if an adult can fit in the hole or see how long it takes to fill the hole with water. Please remember to fill in any holes you dig in the sand when you’re done playing for the safety of other people using the beach.
Required: shovels and varying levels of attention span
2. Mini Beach Golf
Let your child bring out their inner Golfer. Pick up a plastic set of clubs and balls at your local dollar store or improvise with what you have on hand at the beach. Set up a few targets to aim for or dig holes in the sand to practice your child’s short game.
Required: a set of clubs and balls
3. Beach Frisbee Golf
Substitute a plain old game of frisbee with frisbee golf. Set up targets using items you brought to the beach (could be a picnic blanket, an umbrella, a towel, or you could even dig a hole in the sand to aim at). Take turns trying to throw your frisbee as close to the target as you can. Make sure smaller kids are allowed to stand closer to the target than the bigger ones to keep frustration levels to a minimum.
Required: at least one frisbee
4. Water Bucket Relay
Kids love relay races, and at the beach the old egg and spoon race can be replaced with a water bucket relay. Give each child a plastic cup, spoon, or large shell and have them run to the water, fill whatever it is they are carrying, and race to empty it in a bucket.
Kids love the challenge of trying to keep the water from spilling before they get it into their bucket.
Required: a bucket and carrying tool for each child
5. Let’s Go Fly A Kite
Who doesn’t love to fly a kite. Even if there isn’t a lot of wind, kids can run with kites and have a great time watching them fly behind them. Kites can be purchased in toy stores, dollar stores, or made by kids before the beach visit.
Required: a store-bought or home-made kite
6. Limbo at the Beach
No instructions really - we all know how this one goes, make it beach themed - with two people holding the ends of a pool noodle, jump rope, or boat oar, have each child take a turn trying to go under the “bar” with their backs facing the sand.
7. Beach Bowling
Line up empty bottles or bring your own dollar store plastic pins and balls. The best part about beach bowling is that you don’t have to rent shoes that have been worn a few hundred times. Remember to let the smaller kids line up closer to the pins.
Required: a set of pins and balls
8. Beach Volleyball
Depending on the ages of the kids playing, a real volleyball and net can be set up. For the smaller set, a beach ball and a towel are great substitutes. Try to count the number of times you can get the ball back and forth.
9. Tug of War, Beach Style
Using a skipping rope or towels tied together, stand at the water’s edge. Divide the kids (and adults) into two teams. Make sure the middle of the rope is right over a line drawn in the sand. Hand the ends of the rope to each team and show them how to pull. Be prepared to end up in the water!
Required: a skipping rope and strong muscles
10. Squirt Ball
Kids can work together or compete against each other in this fun game. Give each child a beach ball and squirt gun or spray bottle and have them stand across a line drawn in the sand. Each child has to squirt their ball with all of their might to get it across another line down the beach. Run to the water’s edge to refill squirt guns if water runs out or to begin the game again.
Skills developed: running, hand/eye coordination
11. Sand Hopscotch
Bring the popular hopping game to the beach! Using a stick or rock, draw a grid on the sand and use rocks or shells for markers. If the sand is hot, don’t forget your flip flops or water shoes.
Required: nothing to bring along other than a bounce in your step
12. “Parachute” Games
Kids love parachute games. Adults love parachute games. So grab a large beach towel and a beach ball, hold the ends and sides of the towel with the ball in the middle of the towel, and see how high that ball can bounce. Aim for the sky!
Required: a beach towel and beach ball
13. Bocce Ball Bocce ball is so simple for all ages to learn and to play. A “jack” or target is thrown on the sand. Players then throw their weighted balls and the one who gets their ball closest to the target wins a point. The game continues until a certain number of points are reached. If you don’t own a bocce set, improvise with rocks and other beach treasures. Just always make sure no one is walking by when it’s your turn to throw!
Required: bocce set or beach treasures
14. Beach Treasure Hunt
Supply each child with a list (can be a written list or a list with pictures) and a bucket in which they can collect their treasures. Have your kids hunt for driftwood, shells, rocks, crabs, something round, something blue, a feather, etc. The list can be as long or as short as you feel your child will be able to handle.
Required: a bucket in which to collect the treasures; a prepared list of items
15. Do You Want to Build a Sandman?
Another chance to transfer your winter skills to the beach! A sandman can be decorated with pebbles, shells or rocks for eyes and mouths. Children can use their creative skills to use other beach treasures such as feathers or seaweed for their sandman’s noses, arms, clothing, etc.
Required: the knowledge that you’ll get a little sandy – plus a bucket, shovel, and beach treasures
16. Sand Castles / Forts / Animals
No trip to the beach is complete without digging in the sand. But why limit yourself to a castle (though castles are always fun, too)? Let your kids’ imaginations run wild and ask them to make a creation of their own. If you’re building close to the water, make sure you get photographs of all creations before the tide comes in.
Required: shovels, buckets, sticks, and any other items that could be used to make a fun sand creation
17. Picasso in the Sand
Using a stick, hands, shovels, or rocks, have kids draw a picture, a word, or letters in the sand. Or use treasures collected on the beach to make a drawing.
Required: a drawing implement and a creative mind