There's so much more to do than lying on the beach or swimming in the sea. Try these top ideas for an action-packed beach holiday
“Summer vacation is a time when parents realise that teachers are grossly underpaid!"
Make a glowing sand castle
This is a nighttime favourite. Pile up a large heap of sand and pat it down firmly. With your hand, scoop hollows into the sides of the castle. In each hollow, put a tea light candle or the short stubby end of a candle. When the sun goes down, light the candles and see the castle glow in the dusk (as always, exercise caution where kids and candles are concerned!).
Have a beach treasure hunt
Draw up a list of items for kids to find – a mussel shell, a round stone, a bottle top, and so on. Be sure to define the area of search so you don’t have children wondering too far afield. Play the game in teams if you have lots of children around.
Create a diorama
A diorama is a world in a box. It’s a super thing to make at the seaside, because the beach is full of useful bits and pieces to use in its creation, but you can always make one at home. You’ll need a cardboard box (bigger than a shoe box, but not too enormous). Turn the box on its side with the opening at the front. Decide what the scene is going to be – perhaps an underwater scene.
Now decorate the bottom, sides and back of the box in line with your theme, usually by drawing on paper and sticking it on to form a backdrop. Sand can form the floor. Next, decorate with shells, pebbles and driftwood. Your kids can also create other props, like a paper boat, or fish made of clay. Remember, you can hang things from the “roof”, too.
Make an aquarium
Children love rock-pooling and can spend hours catching fish in their little nets. Instead of keeping the catch in a bucket, use a large Perspex or glass mixing bowl. That way, the children can see the action better. They’ll also enjoy finding seaweed and other items to make the aquarium more welcoming. Make sure that the animals aren’t kept in captivity for more than an hour or so before they are gently returned to the sea.
Make sand art
Use a variety of tools – sticks, rakes, forks, beach debris – to draw or write in the sand. Have the children write their names in large letters. Try large-scale sand drawing. You can also play games like Hangman or Noughts and Crosses in the sand.
Create a sculpture
Pile up the sand and shape it into a reclining mermaid or a basking lizard. Find shells, pebbles and seaweed to make eyes and other features.
Draw the numbered grid on the sand and get everyone hopping.
Play beach darts
Draw a target in the sand. Players have to stand at a certain point and throw a stone, trying to get closest to the bull’s eye.
Do the long jump
All you need to do is draw a starting line in the sand and mark off each child’s landing place. Because children may be of different ages, record each's distance and see if they can better their own records throughout the holiday.
Make sea-themed crafts
On a beach holiday, children usually collect far more beach treasures that you are willing to cart back home. Encourage them to pick their favourites and return the rest to the beach. Take some home for your children to display or use for crafts during the year.
Here are some simple ideas for the rest:
- A picture frame. Buy small, cheap wooden picture frames and let the children stick on shells, using wood glue.
- A mobile. First, search the beach for interesting items like bits of driftwood. Keep a sharp eye out for pretty shells that have holes in them, so you don’t have to drill them.
- A Christmas wreath. Use your beach treasures to make a special wreath to hang on the door or decorate your Christmas table. Use heavy cardboard for the base. Cut it into the desired shape and spread with glue. Sprinkle sand to cover the entire surface. Then glue on your child’s beach treasures. You might want to finish it with clear lacquer, spray it with silver spray paint or leave it in its natural colours.
- A glass bottle. If your children really want to keep and display their shells, perhaps the best way is in a glass jar or bottle.