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A trip to the beach



Suitable for children: 
Two children playing in the sand

There are many different activities that you can do at the beach and talking to your child about what they would like to do will help you to decide what type of beach you will go to.

The beach can be a very relaxing and restful place where you can talk, read, build sandcastles and lie on the sand. It can also be very active and involve going for long walks, running, playing or swimming.

Children often like to look for things that have washed up on the shore or to play around the rock pools, turning over rocks and stones to see if they can find small crabs wriggling underneath. Some children are potential builders and architects and love to make huge buildings from sand that are joined by bridges and tunnels or have water and rivers around them.

Talk to your child before you go to plan what you will need to take. What you take will change depending on what you do and what weather will be like. If you want to look in rock pools and find crabs and anemones the tide will need to be out and the weather will need to be calm. If you want to walk along the beach collecting things that have washed up on the sand you will need to take containers to collect the objects in and the weather will need to be cooler - so you don’t burn or get too hot.

While at the beach, talk to your child and ask questions about what you are both doing.

What type of weather do we need so we can swim?
Can we still swim if it is hot but raining?
What will we see at the beach today?

Materials you will need

  • Bucket
  • Spade
  • Containers
  • Towel
  • Found treasures
  • Bathers

Alternative tools

  • Empty container

A trip to the beach helps children to be involved in planning what will happen at the beach and the tools and resources they will need when they get to the beach. As you talk about what you are going to do children begin to explore listening to and responding to questions. The questions might be simple or more complex and require them to think about information and connect past and present events.

Once you have decided what you will do together you can start to explore what you will need to take and when is the best time to go. By doing this with your child they are learning to sort, group and categorise objects by function and purpose. By planning what to do and when to go they are learning about time, weather and the seasons and how these can impact on what we do and when we can do it.

Involving children in planning for an event leads to the development of a rich and diverse vocabulary as children begin to use language and hear language that is topic specific which they will need for answering questions about events and places. Talking about what you will do and what you need to take is the beginning or sorting and grouping. Learning to sort and group is important as it helps children to identify different attributes and elements of objects. Identification of individual elements and attributes enables children to understand how to interact with the object and what the object is able to do.

A trip to the beach enables children to explore measurement and to understand that time, weather and seasons are all aspects of measurement. They will begin to learn that measurement is not only about number or length and that it helps us to make decisions and to inform future planning.

  • Full, empty, half, quarter
  • Top, bottom, side, next to, against, alongside, between, around
  • Tide, sand, wave, current, water
  • Seawater, saltwater, shells, seaweed, driftwood
  • Starfish, fish, crab, anemones
  • Foreshore, tidal pools, reef, rocks, sandhills, dunes, jetty, sandbar, spinifex, plants
  • Sun, shade, shadow, cloud
  • Bathers, sunglasses, towel, hat, t-shirt, shorts, sunscreen, sunblock, thongs
  • Bucket, spade.
  • Sandcastle, moat, tower, tunnel, river, canal
  • Walking, swimming, playing, digging, reading, running, collecting
  • Where are we going today?
  • What will we need to take?
  • What will we do when we are there?
  • How long will that take?
  • Will the tide be in or out?
  • What will we do if it is too hot when we get there?
  • What is the weather today?
  1. Refer to www.parenting.sa.gov.au for information on sun safety and water safety for young children.
  2. Remember to talk to your child in your home language.
  1. Borrow books from the local library about the beach.
  2. Make mobiles and collages from the treasures that you find at the beach.
  3. Set up a water tray at home with different things you collected along the beach.
  4. Make a texture water tray at home, adding sand to the water.
  5. Take photos of what you are doing at the beach and make them into postcards that you can send to your child’s friends and family.

Birth to two year olds

  • Make sandcastles adding the treasures you have found along the way.
  • Dig small and large holes that you can fill with water. Count how long it takes for the water to drain away.
  • Collect sticks to draw pictures or write words in the sand. Try writing or drawing in the wet sand close to the sea’s edge and watch what happens as the waves move the water in and out.
  • Walk along the beach and find treasures to collect. If your child is older they can begin to sort them into different groups.
  • Fill a large container with water. Experiment with the found treasures to see if they float or sink.

Three to five year olds

  • Take photos of what you are doing at the beach and make them into postcards that you can send to your friends.
  • Create a picture book about your excursion to the beach using a mixture of photos, drawings and found objects.
  • Set up a sand tray at home with the different things you found along the beach.
  • Create treasure boxes with the found treasures.
  • Dig channels and rivers in the sand. Fill with water and then race to see whose leaf, feather or boat will reach the end first.
  • Draw a tennis court in the sand using bags or string as a net. How many times can you hit or throw the ball over the net before it hits the ground?
  • Mark out a running track on the sand and see how quickly you can complete the course.
  • Build towers or stand sticks up in the sand to create shadows. Measure which is the longest or the widest. Talk about where the sun needs to be in the sky to create a shadow.

Questions to ask

  • How full is the bucket?
  • Which is biggest? Which is smallest?
  • Which are the shells?
  • Which ones swim?
  • Which ones float?
  • Where is the water?
  • Where did it go?

Questions to ask

  • How fast can you go?
  • What did you find?
  • Where did they come from?
  • How do we make a shadow?
  • Which ones go together?
  • Where does the water go when you pour it out?
  • Where does the sun go?

Language to use

  • Wash away
  • Fill up, pour out
  • Empty, full
  • Top, bottom
  • Fast, slow
  • Sink, float

Language to use

  • Shadow
  • Evaporate
  • Pour, fill, empty
  • Sort, group, collect
  • Speed, quickest, fastest, slowest
  • First, second, last