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Beach trip offers more than just sandcastles

Mon., Aug. 9, 2010

Kimiko, 6, makes easy drip castles at Seacliff State Beach in California by mixing sand and water.
Kimiko, 6, makes easy drip castles at Seacliff State Beach in California by mixing sand and water.

A family day outdoors with young kids by a lake or by the sea is usually more about sand than water and waves, and sometimes there is something new under the sun.

Here’s what I discovered at the ocean and at inland lakes this summer for “sand-tastic” family play this month.

Getting there

A family of four hauled their beach gear in a plastic winter sled. It easily slid over the sand as they pulled it to their spot for the day.

When emptied, it became a nifty picnic table at lunch and a shallow tub for their preschooler to enjoy afternoon water play.

Sand portraits

Some beaches aren’t suitable for castle construction. Instead, make a portrait of someone or of an imaginary sea creature. Draw an outline of the head in the sand with a stick.

Then, using natural items you have collected, add the details.

Drape and “style” seaweed for a fancy hairdo or craggy beard. Use rocks, shells, driftwood for features and details. Take a photo souvenir before the tide washes it away.

Sand without the shore

You don’t have to go to a beach to enjoy playing with sand. Bring some home or purchase a bag of clean sand at a craft store.

Find a large cookie sheet with rim around all four sides. Pour a thin layer of clean sand in the pan to cover the bottom completely.

Using an index finger as a paintbrush or pen, your child can drag it through the sand and see his pictures, alphabet letters or doodles revealed on the metal cookie sheet. When it’s time to start over, shake the pan slightly from side to side to level the sand and make the drawings disappear.

When not in use, older children and Mom and Dad can leave word messages for one another in the sand. For the non-readers, a simple heart outline will do.

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