TIME TO PLAY
Forget building a sandcastle, these ideas are far more fun if you’re little!
Dig for treasure
In soft, dry sand, bury a few beach toys, and let your toddler dig to find them. If you want to up the fun, bury some of your things that you don’t mind getting sandy, pretend you’ve lost them, and let your little one save the day.
Play shadow tag
Challenge your youngster to catch your shadow. All she has to do is to stand on your shadow – once she manages to do it, swap over.
Go beach bowling
Dig five or six holes in flat, hard sand and try throwing or rolling balls into them.
Be led by your child
It’s great to have lots of ideas up your sleeve to encourage her to explore, but give her the chance to instigate play, too. If she’s fascinated by a bit of seaweed, then you be fascinated, too. If she hands it to you then wants it back, play her game and pass it back and forth. If you follow her lead, show interest in what she’s doing and copy her – she’ll feel confident to investigate some more.
Have a seawater race
Each child will need a bucket and a spade. Set up the buckets in a row, a few metres from the water’s edge, and give them a spade each. Tell them that when you shout ‘go!’ they must race to the sea, scoop up some seawater, run back to the bucket and tip the contents into it. The first person to get an overflowing bucket wins. This is a great game for older kids.
Make a sensory pit
Scoop out a shallow hollow in dry, soft sand. Pour a couple of buckets of water over one half. Your baby will enjoy exploring the difference in texture between the wet, rough, cold sand and the dry, soft, warm sand. Encourage her to feel it with her feet, as well as her hands.
Turn her into a mermaid
With your youngster sitting down, shape a mermaid’s tail from sand over and around her legs.
Walk like a crab
Toddlers will be fascinated by the discovery that crabs walk sideways. Find one, if you can – because your youngster won’t believe you otherwise – then practise scuttling sideways with your child. This manoeuvre is surprisingly difficult to do when you try it for the first time!
Make drip castles
When the tide’s going out, head down to the water’s edge and grab handfuls of wet, sludgy sand to make drip castles – you simply drip the wet sand through your fingers to build as high a tower as you can. If your child isn’t sure about putting her hands into the sludge, then a bucket full of half sand, half seawater poured through a funnel makes great drip castles, too. Or give a young tot a bucket of watery sand and show her how to scoop handfuls out and drip it onto drier sand.
Play musical towels
This game is a must for when you think your on-the-go toddler needs a rest, but doesn’t want to stop playing. Lay out as many towels as there are people playing, and sing while everyone runs from towel to towel. When you stop singing, everyone has to lie down on a towel. The first person to do this wins. No-one’s out, and you can keep playing until your toddler stays lying on her towel.
Create a balance beam
Draw two parallel lines in the sand and see if your toddler can keep her balance walking between them. If you want to challenge her, include some curves or make the gap between the lines increasingly narrow.
Apply plenty of broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen about 20 minutes before going outdoors and re-apply every two hours.