Heading to the beach this summer with little ones in tow? Whether you’re on vacation far away or just taking a day trip, we’ve got some amazing energy-burning beach activities to keep the kids busy! Everything from playing in the sand and splashing about to experiencing the infinite sensory wonders the beach offers. These beach activities for toddlers will not only ensure a fun-filled day, but will also provide enough stimulation to tire out the kids and get them ready for bed in no time!
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Build a Sand Castle.
There’s nothing better than a good old sand castle — it seems to be a rite of passage for annual beach visits in our family. Plus building one requires lots of shapes — the perfect use for those shovel-pail and other assortment of beach toys toddlers love! You can buy one on sale here.
Bring a Kiddie Pool.
Is your little one not quite ready to splash about in the ocean yet? No worries. Take the kiddie pool to the beach! Just add some ocean water to the pool for hours of entertainment for your baby and toddler. This is one of our favorite ways to introduce our kids to the water.
RELATED: Pool Toys Every Toddler Will Love
Write in the Sand.
Teach your kids their ABCs as they roll around in the sand! There are so many ways to have fun with this activity: use your feet to write out the different letters and have your child mimic you; use your fingers to practice writing their name and have your child trace the letters with their fingers; or use sticks as a writing implement!
Make Ocean Pools.
For kids who enjoy the calming sensory experience of pouring and sifting water and sand on the beach, making ocean pools is another really fun activity. The simple idea here is to dig a small hole and have your child fill it with buckets of water. They will enjoy the repetitive motions of pouring and playing with water and can add some more excitement by mixing rocks and seaweed to the pools for pretend play cooking. This shovel set is perfect for an activity like this!
We all know how much toddlers love running. So why not continue the fun at the beach? If your child is a bit out of his or her comfort zone in the water, help them adjust by playing “water tag”. Playing is easy. Have your kid chase waves into the water and then watch them run away when those big waves come crashing back. This is also a great way to tire them out and ensure a long nap afterwards ;)!
Grab a bucket and go on a little hunt for seashells! Look for them in the sand and on the shore to gather an array of different shells your toddler can later decorate or use in sensory play at home.
RELATED: Ocean Beach Sensory Bin
Make a Sea Creature.
You can call it a sand monster or a mermaid depending on what your child prefers, but this is another beach activity your little ones will love. Use a shovel and pail to gather up sand, water, rocks, shells, seaweed (for the hair) and whatever else you find to create a unique, texture-rich sea creature.
With every trip to the beach our kids love the opportunity they get for tossing rocks into the ocean. The “plop” sounds splashing into the water is something every toddler enjoys hearing. So (as long as there aren’t any swimmers in the way) let your kids throw some rocks and enjoy it while they can!
This may seem a little challenging, but if your kids are interested (and like to live on the wild side like my boys) skim boarding will be a really fun activity for them to try at the beach. Plus, it’s better to start early when they’re fearless!
Swim like a Fish.
Sometimes kids just want to sit by the water’s edge and wait for the waves to come rushing in. A fun game for those shore-hangers is what we call “swimming fishy”. Your toddler can pretend he/she is a fishy (facing towards or away from the water) by kicking their legs (tail) while they sit at whatever water level they’re most comfortable in.
Toss a Beach Ball.
This is a classic beach game kids of ALL ages will love! Simply grab an inflatable beach ball and let your kids toss it around in the air. You can start with a basic 2-player game or get the whole family involved for a volleyball game.
Try a Scavenger Hunt.
Another way to keep kids active and busy at the beach, is via a beach-themed scavenger hunt. Pick a few essential beach items like seashells, seaweed, rocks and have your child find them. They can use a pail to collect all the goodies and show them off to mommy and daddy.
Play, I Spy Game, Beach Style.
Similar to a scavenger hunt is a search and find type beach activity. I like to differentiate the two, because one is more active than the other. It’s helpful to throw in an “I Spy” type activity to help kids recognize essential beach elements without having to actually get up and gather them. So you could yell out things like “I spy sun glasses” or “I spy pigeon” and “I spy a boat” type phrases and have your child point them out. (This is great if you have other children to attend to and need to be seated!)
When the kids have had enough running around and want to try to a more sedentary game in the water, try fishing! Simply grab a small net and bucket and let them go at it. Sometimes you can catch minnows right by the water’s edge so the kids don’t have to go in past their knees!
And if they’re more keen on staying out of the water, this magnetic fishing set that comes with an assortment of fish can be used right in the kiddie pool!
Heading to the beach now? Get our printable checklist of activities to do with your toddler right below!
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Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.