Beach Games and Activities for Kids

Sure, they can swim and surf, but these beach games keep kids active too.

Ahh, the beach! The combination of sun, surf, and sand is not only relaxing; it offers lots of opportunities for fun beach games and activities that get kids moving and build strength and fitness. Grab your sunscreen and hit the shore, then play!

Build and sculpt with sand.

Beach games - digging in the sand
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This is the ultimate beach game! Create a sand castle or other sculpture ("snow"-man? whale? airplane?). Add shells, sticks, seaweed and other found materials. Creating and perfecting the design works both small and large muscles, especially if the sculpture is super-sized. Kids build muscles and bones by hauling water and sand back and forth from the water's edge. They stretch muscles as they reach up, over, and around their creation. They boost fine motor skills by sculpting with their fingers and adding decoration.

Run relay races.

For a water relay race, you'll need a cup or other small container and two buckets per team. Draw start and finish lines in the sand. Give each team a full bucket of water at the starting line (or make the water's edge the starting line) and an empty one at the finish line. They take turns running back and forth with their cup, transferring water to the empty bucket. Whoever fills their bucket first is the winner. Try other relays too, like a crab crawl or a three-legged race.

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Fly a kite.

Bring a store-bought kite or make your own before you head to the beach. Open spaces and waterfront breezes make it easy to get kites to fly high. This activity is best reserved for less crowded areas of the beach, so you have room to walk and extend your kite's string.

Design an obstacle course.

Design and make an obstacle course using sticks, shovels, and other sand toys. Include sand piles or ditches to jump over and activities to perform at stops along the way. Think dance moves, karate kicks, cartwheels, jumping jacks, telling a joke—anything your kids will giggle at. You might even place a treasure, like a few coins or a snack, at the end of your course.

Draw pictures.

Start by taking a walk to look for interesting rocks, shells, and other materials. Then have kids lie in the sand and either make an angel (like you would in snow), or trace around each other's bodies with sticks. Then they can decorate their sand portrait with the scavenged materials. Of course, you're not limited to people; sand drawings can take the form of a house, vehicle, landscape, or anything else your kids dream up.

Dance.

Did you bring an mp3 player with some mini speakers to the beach? Then a dance party is definitely in order. Or, play musical "chairs," subbing beach towels or bases drawn in the sand if you don't have enough beach chairs with you. Play the no-elimination version of the game, where bases, instead of players, are removed when the music stops. Players crowd onto fewer and fewer safe spots until they're all squished onto one. (Don't do this with folding beach chairs, since they could break and/or fold unexpectedly and pinch little fingers if too many people pile on.)

Play favorite sports and games beach style.

Adapt non-beach activities for sea- or lake-side:

  • Bowling: Use a beach ball to knock down empty cups or plastic bottles
  • Volleyball: A line in the sand can stand in for a net if you don't have one
  • Soccer or kickball: Mark bases or goals in the sand
  • Twister: Use towels or paper plates to mark the dots
  • Tic-tac-toe: Draw an oversize board in the sand and have players jump from square to square to claim them
  • Mini-golf or croquet: Use shovels as clubs or mallets and make a ball from a crumpled piece of paper (or rolled socks); dig holes or mark wickets in the sand

Finish with Yoga

Lead a little stretch session for your family before you finish your day at the beach. Gently moving your muscles as you lie on a sun-warmed towel is heavenly, especially after swimming or long walks on the sand.

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