7 Sand Games To Play With Kids At The Beach

Summers at the beach are a fun and easy way to spend time with your kids because there’s so much to see, do, and experience. Of course, there are beaches with extra activities like boat rides and animal rides that your kids would enjoy. But if you just want to have some fun and avoid extra expenses, you can keep your kids happy and entertained at the beach by playing sand games. 

Sand Games include building sand castles, digging treasure holes, and playing tic-tac-toe or hopscotch. Sand games require minimal or no equipment at all. 

However, my list of beach essentials always includes small buckets, molds, and shovels to sculpt sand sculptures. By the way, my daughters rarely use these equipment, but carrying them saves me from unnecessary tantrums.  

Let’s get into these sand games so you can identify which ones are perfect for your kids.

Kids making sand molds

1. Make & Decorate A Mound Of Sand

Making a shapeless mound of sand is fun, simple, and perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. All they have to do is pile wet sand to any height and smooth it out. Then, they’ll decorate this mound with shells, stones, sticks, flowers, or the toys they’ll bring from home.

Your kids will enjoy digging up sand, getting it wet, and plopping handfuls of mud into a pile. A great excuse to get all messy! What’s more, according to the National Library of Medicine, sand play will stimulate their creativity and attention span.

Ask them to explain their creations and allow them to take charge. It is fascinating to watch your kid’s imagination run wild. And I’ll be the first to admit; decorating mounds of sand would keep my daughters busy while I enjoy the open water view.

2. Building Sandcastles

Relive your childhood memories by teaching your child how to build a sandcastle. If it is their first sandcastle, let them try out the classic one, where they use a castle-shaped bucket. These buckets are available in most stores, and sandcastle-building sets contain all the necessary tools. 

First, ensure that the bucket is a good size for your kid because they will fill it with sand and carry it. Cylindrical or rectangular buckets, but you could always get both so they can have options. 

Have them fill the bucket with damp sand and pack it as tightly as possible. Then show them how to turn it upside down onto the sand and carefully lift it to reveal their castle. It’s simple, right?

Show them a few examples before letting them try it independently so they don’t feel defeated. Also, ensure their sandcastle isn’t too far or just at the water so they can easily get damp sand and keep the tide from carrying away their work.

Moreover, building sandcastles at the beach isn’t exclusive to children. Adults enjoy it too! So, why not get down and dirty with your kids for a fun beach experience?

Building a sandman at the beach with kids

3. Making a Sandman

Like you would make a snowman, you can help your kids make a sandman. First, you need a bucket of water and another of sand. Next, have the kids make balls using the sand from the water and sand they have collected. 

Stack the balls carefully on each other, ensuring they don’t fall. Finally, get the kids to decorate the sandman with things they can readily find on the beach, like shells, seaweeds, and twigs.

Remember, the large balls of sand may be challenging to keep intact. So, have your kids make miniature sandmen with smaller size balls of sand, if they are struggling. 

The goal is to have fun and encourage them to express their creativity. In fact, you should see my younger one trying her best to design Elsa using mounds of sand. It’s hilarious, but we enjoy it.

4. Treasure Hunt

Get a few items and bury them in different spots on the beach while your kids are not looking. Tell them what the items are and give them a few clues to help them locate these items. Then send them off on an exciting treasure hunt that culminates with exciting prizes.

Your older kids will appreciate this game more than the younger ones, but digging up the sand to uncover the treasure is fun for everyone. In fact, try splitting your kids into teams to encourage teamwork and learning opportunities. 

If you want to play this game, choose a day when there are not too many people on the beach. You have enough space to hide your treasure within your line of sight so you can keep an eye on the kids. 

Sand mold

5. Create A Sand Sculpture

There are two main ways to make a sand sculpture. The first is to buy a mold of the desired shape or creature that you can fill up with damp sand and have an instant sculpture. It is similar to making sandcastles and is appropriate for younger kids still working on their motor skills.

The second way is to use various tools to create the sculpture from scratch. You can do this with your older kids who have the patience and physical stamina to work on something more challenging. Moreover, it’s a great way for your kids to express their creativity and improve problem-solving and communication skills.

You will need buckets of different sizes, shovels, plastic spoons for carving, and a water spray bottle. Let your kids decide what they would like to create and the location. Usually, the best spot is where the tide isn’t high enough to destroy these sculptures.

Remember to have plenty of water to soak the sand before they start to give a good foundation. Have them make the wet sand into a pile that meets the intended height of their sculpture. Add more mud (sand+water) to this pile and shape it into the sculpture’s outline. 

Start adding specific details with the plastic spoon, spraying water occasionally to preserve their work. Lastly, don’t forget to take as many pictures and videos while cheering them on. 

6. Tic-Tac-Toe Or Hopscotch

If your kids don’t want to build something with the sand, they can still play on it. Hopscotch and tic-tac-toe are great sand games for children of any age. You’ll help the kids to draw the grid on the sand before they start playing. 

Challenge your kids to draw the longest hopscotch grid possible to make things more interesting. And then see who can make it down the grid the fastest without falling or stepping on the lines. It’s fun and excellent for developing your baby’s motor skills.

Similarly, enhance tic-tac-toe by using differently colored stones and shells instead of drawing Xs and O’s. Tic-tac-toe is a great way for your kids to take a little rest from running around and exerting themselves.

7. Get Covered In Sand

This is one of my least favorite sand games because the sand gets everywhere. However, my daughters love burying me with mounds of sand, and like a good mom, I submit to some of my kids’ pleasures. 

The kids dig a little hole for me to sit in and pile as much sand as they want on my body, leaving the head out. After that, they decorate their creation with literally anything from seaweed and shells to funny hats and sunglasses. That’s not all. They’ll take pictures and run around singing to me. This sand game is a hit with most kids because seeing a head sticking out of the sand is such a funny sight.

If you’re claustrophobic, this sand game isn’t for you. Instead, choose one of your older kids or an adult, like your husband, and have the kids cover them. You can take pictures and videos. 

Now that you know the games to play with your kids, it’s time to prepare for the beach trip. In my experience, toddlers tend to be fussy when taken to the beach. Because of their age, they haven’t really gotten the gist of it and will often cause a tantrum. If this happens to you, check out this article, where I give you secrets on how to take toddlers to the beach without fussing.

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