Creative beach activities

Copyright National Lilac Publishing, LLC

Beach activities for kids’ groups can fulfill two important needs: First, to observe and respect the world as it already is in unison with others. The awe-inspiring hugeness of the ocean can make this happen easily.

Second – it beckons free creation – imagining and creating new worlds together. Did you know large bodies of moving water like waterfalls and lapping seashores are believed to heighten alpha brainwaves associated with creativity, peacefulness and kindness? What a great place for outdoor activities for kids.

"Observe and Respect" Group Activities

To help kids wire their minds to the observe and respect mode, create a group cooperative scavenger hunt for finding -- then just observing -- specific items on the seashore without removing anything from its place. The scavenger list can be checked off as each discovery is made and observed.

If the beach has tide pools or natural rocky seaweed areas, see if your library has the kids’ book entitled Seashore Life, from the Golden Guides series of St. Martin’s Press. It’s a highly recommended field guide for children. It describes seashells, sea plants, shore birds, sand crabs, jellyfish and starfish. Show the group something in the book that can most likely be found on your beach, and hunt for it as a group, calling out the discovery so all can come over and observe.

Beach Activities to "Create New Worlds"

Beaches are one of the most forgiving natural places on earth for free creation of imaginative new worlds. When making sand, stone and shell art, sand kingdoms, beach roads and seashore fairy houses, the tide will eventually return everything back to a natural state.

In today’s plugged in world, groups of kids sometimes need to start out directed at first before they remember the part of themselves that wants to create new worlds of their own. The beach activities below can gently lead them back into their imaginations.

First, divide your free creation time at the beach into four sections:

1.Start with an organized group beach game to ignite group unity at the beach

2.Lead into looser (that's "more loose" not "loser") group beach activity prompts

3.Then allow complete free choice, offering a few beach toys and tools. Some kids may join together to make more sand objects, others may need to step back from the group energy with a more solitude activity or contemplation.

(See Amy Rose's 1., 2., and 3. below for further explanation.)

4.Clean-up. In spite of possible protests, kids benefit from cleaning up after their own group activities. It helps them feel valued and empowered to do whatever needs to be done to make their lives as they want them to be.

Need sand for your beach activities?

If the beach you’re going to has only rocks, pebbles and seaweed, but you also wanted sand for various group activities, time your trip for a very low tide if possible. This will usually give you large expanses of sand. Search online for your beach's tide table predictions.

(All group activities with kids call for impeccable caution and detail for safety, but let me add here that sharp barnacles that cling to seashore rocks and “sneak waves” that suddenly appear and pull people into the water can be painful and deadly. Know seaside safety measures before taking groups of kids to a beach.)

Amy Rose takes it from here on creative beach activities you can do with your group of children:

1. Organized group beach activities to start with

Choose ones that work for the number of kids in your group and their ages:

- Play a round of hopscotch on the beach with the hopscotch frame drawn in the sand, and found pebbles for the marker.

- Play “Stranded!” Kids pretend they’re stranded on a deserted island and hear an airplane flying over. They only have a certain amount of time to write a large message in the sand before it’s too late. Choose a word or phrase that allows each child to be responsible for one letter, such as HELP, WE ARE HERE, WE ARE STRANDED, RESCUE US and so on. Add exclamation marks or an underline if you need more symbols for children to write. If the beach is mostly sand, make sure all kids have a stick or stone to draw their letter. If there are many pebbles available on the beach, make the game last longer by having the message written with pebbles. Write a sample or first letter ahead of time so kids know the size their letters should be. Make sure each child knows her letter, line them up according to the spelling of the word or phrase, then say, “GO!” Encourage them to hurry because the imaginary plane you're keeping an eye on is getting very close. When they’re about half way done, tell them the plane is almost overhead, it’s almost too late. Make sure they finish just in time. After it’s over, allow them to then stomp out or remove their message so passersby don’t take the distress words seriously!

- Play a cooperative group Frisbee or group jump rope game. See how many unmissed Frisbee throws or jump rope jumps can be counted within a five minute segment.

2. Simple prompts

After the quick organized group game, start more loose, simple activity prompts to follow for a specified amount of time for each. This helps kids engage in their surroundings in a deeper way.

- Build stone sculptures. Hunt for flat rocks and pile them from the largest at the bottom to the smallest at the top. Kids have fun finding and carefully stacking just the right stones.

- Build sand faces using only found objects on the beach, nothing brought along with you allowed. Just be careful not to disrupt seashore habitat.

- Collect extra dark or extra light stones and set happy messages in the sand. Seems simplistic, doesn’t it? But just the hunt for specific stones amidst many stones gets the mind engaged in nature and seeking out life instead of being a passive recipient of whatever an electronic screen offers.

3. Free play beach toys

When it’s time for complete free play, you can bring along alternatives to typical beach toys. Look around the house for unneeded leftovers, or go to your second hand store to purchase kid-safe waterproof and rustproof spatulas, colanders, large serving spoons, whisks, wooden spoons, bowls, cups, Jell-O molds, pitchers, cookie cutters, small toy trucks and cars, and the occasional traditional odd sand or beach toys. Make sure there are at least some items like pitchers and buckets to carry quantities of water and sand.

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