A trip to the beach is often filled with excitement as young learners take on the role of adventurers and explorers! The beach environment sparks their natural curiosity and provides the freedom to explore nature in a fun, creative and practical way. Rich in different textures, smells, sights and tastes, a trip to the beach can ignite the senses and is perfect for all types of learners.
Did you know that in the UK no one lives more than 80 miles (130 km) from the seashore?
If you are planning to visit a beach this summer, here are our ten top tips to maximise exploration and discovery!
1) Beach Scavenger hunt
If you have time to prepare before your trip, a beach scavenger hunt will keep little ones entertained and learning all day long! Create a checklist of things for them to look for including:
- Flat pebble
- Layered stone
- Crab shell
- A stone with a hole in
- Sand castle
- Deck Chair
- Pink T-Shirt
- Flip Flops
Shout each one out as you go along or create a checklist to attach to a bucket for them to fill with their discoveries.
Top tip: Extend learning by asking where certain items came from and why they can be found on the beach.
2) Water relay race
This is a great activity if you are at the beach with a large group of children. Mark out some check points in the sand and stagger each team along them. The first person to set off balances a full bucket of sea water on their head and passes it to the next person at the first check point. The aim of the game is to have the most sea water in your bucket by the end of the race!
Top tip: At the end of the race encourage the children to estimate the volume of water left in the bucket.
3) Sand Portraits
Creativity can be found in lots of places, especially at the beach! This activity can be done individually or as a competition in a group. Ask your young learners to create a self portrait in the sand. They can use their hands or spades to draw the main image and then use beach materials such as seaweed and shells to decorate!
Top tip: Once completed, ask each person to describe their portrait and explain why they used the materials they chose.
4) Sorting Seashells
This activity encourages children to explore the details of shells and sort them in different ways. Start by collecting as many shells as possible. Six of the most common shells in the UK are:
- Painted topshell
- European cowrie
- Common wentletrap
Once you have collected them, think about the different ways you could sort them. Here are some ideas:
Top tip: Extend the activity by counting how many shells are in each sorting group.
5) Four in a Row
Draw out a ‘connect 4’ grid in the sand which is 7 squares horizontally and 6 squares vertically. Collect stones and shells from the beach and gather together to use as playing tokens, one player uses stones and the other uses shells. Take it in turns to place your token in the grid; the first person to connect four is the winner!
6) Pebble Decorating
Take some paint pens with you on your trip to the beach for some pebble decorating fun! Go on a scavenger hunt to find as many large flat pebbles as possible, once you’ve collected them think about how you would like to decorate them. A fun idea is to write on their name and the year and hide it in a secret place. Can you find it again when you return?
Top tip: Decorate a pebble with the saying ‘I love…’ and ask your child to think about what they love most about the beach.
7) Rock Pooling
Rock pools are the perfect place to discover mini beasts! When the tide goes out you can find all sorts of creatures such as barnacles, mussels, shore crabs, hermit crabs, shrimps, prawns, starfish, sand hoppers, common whelk, dog whelk and razor shells. The plants and animals that live in rock pools have adapted to live in challenging conditions such as changing water temperatures and oxygen levels. To take a close up view of your discoveries pour some sea water into a clear container and carefully place your mini beast inside. Make sure the container has air holes and that you are very gentle when placing them in.
Top tip: Investigate the finer details of your mini-beast and ask your young learner to describe them.
8) Sand Letters and Numbers
Sand is a great sculpting and sensory material and can be used to reinforce letter recognition. Take along some sand moulds on your trip to the beach and you can create lots of games that involve spelling simple words. Using sand moulds also helps to develop fine motor skills.
Top tip: Use the sand moulds to create a name for a sand castle!
9) Beach Bowling
Great for active play, beach bowling is simple to set up and creates hours of fun! Start by marking out an area for your game to take place and then dig some small holes at one end of the area. Using tennis balls take it in turn to bowl, aiming for the holes you have dug!
Top tip: To extend the learning write a number by each hole from 1-10. The higher the number, the higher the score!
10) Post Card
Following a trip to the beach, a simple postcard exercise can help children to reflect upon the activities they did and help them to practise spelling, punctuation and descriptive language. Provide them with a structure that includes:
- Putting a stamp in the top right corner
- Writing the address on the right hand side
- Starting the postcard with ‘Dear xxx’
- Including information about where they went and what they did
- Signing the card with ‘From xxx’
Top tip: Ask them to include what they learnt at the beach in the postcard.
World Ocean’s Day is on the 8th of June, play your part by helping to keep the beach clean and tidy after your visit!