Summer is here and that means beach vacations for many families. We are fortunate to live within a few hours drive to several beaches and many families in our area take numerous trips to the beach, including day trips. We all know kids don’t stay still for very long, and the beach is no exception. Want to keep your family happy at the beach? Check out our list of activities that go beyond sandcastles and searching for seashells and can help stimulate and encourage your child language and motor development.
1. Nets can be used to catch a variety of treasures and critters such as fish, crabs, shells, and seaweed and will keep your child entertained for hours! They can be used in shallow tidal pools and in deeper parts of the ocean. Look for bug nets at your local dollar store. These work well.
2. Scavenger Hunts are great for older children. I have seen families doing this on the beach and really enjoying it! You can make it as difficult or as easy as you want. Make a list of items you need to find such as shell, stick, stone, sand dollar, seaweed and the first person (or team) to find all the items wins!
3. Roll Ball is a cross between bowling and golf. Bring a ball of any kind. Dig a few holes that the balls will fit in. Roll the ball into the holes. The holes can be worth different amounts of points, or you can keep it simple by having one hole.
4. Spray bottles keep you cool and are a fun alternative to water guns and are great for hand strengthening. Spray designs in the sand or just spray your friends!
5. Bubbles are wonderful at the beach and if you have read any of our previous posts, you know we use bubbles to target many oral motor and language goals. Target vocab: more, open, pop, blow, please, big/small, wow, yay, all done, thank you.
6. Take plastic toys your child really enjoys playing with at home such as figurines, trucks, and plastic tea party sets. You will be amazed at the way that these favorite activities will be enjoyed in a new environment! Build race car tracks and bridges for trucks in the sand, army and super hero forts for figurines, and ask others to join you for your tea party!
7. Ready to put your feet up? Have a seat with your little ones and play a game of I spy or tic tac toe (using a stick or your finger in the sand). Write letters, words, and messages in the sand using sticks or fingers. Great for developing fine motor skills!
8. Lawn games such as ladder ball and bocce ball are fun and easy to transport to the beach. These are great for developing gross motor skills.9. Simple games such as Simon Says and Red Light Green Light and Hop Scotch are great for listening and following directions. Let the children take turns being Simon, and put your feet up for a while!
10. Bring a frisbee or a velcro throw and catch game and work on those gross motor skills!
11. Large shovels are best for digging in the sand and don’t just dig holes! Bury your feet, your brother, or your dad! Sand is great sensory play! Talk about how the sand feels…rough, smooth, hot, wet? Target spatial concepts and wh- questions by asking where things are such as…where are your toes? UNDER the sand! Where are mommy’s toes? ON top of the sand!
12. Seashells are fascinating little objects to children and can keep them busy for hours! Search for them, sort them, match them, make patterns with them, stack them, and use them to decorate your sandcastles! Talk about their similarities and differences.
13. Boogie boarding and skim boarding are difficult and require patience and practice but boy, is it fun!
14. Fill the bucket relay races are exciting and fun! If you have two beach buckets and two smaller cups that are the same size, bring them with you to the beach. Position yourselves a little ways from the water and create teams or compete individually to see who can fill their bucket up with water first, walking to and from the ocean.
15. Evening can be a wonderful time to spend time on the beach. This is a very peaceful time of day at the beach and may be the perfect way to end your day. Not only is it cooler, but also tends to be less crowded. Bring flashlights and search for crabs. Bring your camera along this time. The lighting at sunset makes beautiful pictures! Bring a picnic or a kite!
16. If you have a toddler, try bringing plastic stackable cups. Or just a stack of solo cups. Fill a beach bucket up with water and let her pour water in and out of the cups. Toddlers love to pour and you will be amazed at how long your little one will stay with this simple activity!
What are your favorite things to do at the beach? Comment and let us know!