Comb the Beach
Bring a plastic jar to fill with shells, sea glass, sand dollars, or rocks. Challenge your child to organize her collection in different ways — by size, color, or type — to give her practice sorting and classifying. Make a list of natural and man-made items you could find on the beach, and start a scavenger hunt. Playing detectives or pirates hunting for loot can add an imaginative dimension to the activity.
Build a Castle
Who can resist digging, stacking, burying, sifting, and shaping sand? Racing to build the tallest structure or collaborating on a construction project will introduce physics concepts and give your child practice communicating and cooperating.
Take a Hike
While walking on the beach, encourage your child to experiment with different kinds of movement. Ask her how moving in sand differs from walking in the water, on the boardwalk, or in the parking lot. Is it easier or more difficult? How about the texture and temperature of the ground? Where can she move the quickest?
Imitate What You See
Can your child become a fish, gull, or crashing wave? Encouraging dramatic play on the beach will stimulate her imagination and develop her observation skills. Don't forget to join in!
There's no end to the number of beach balls and flyers available. Bring a few playthings along to offer exercise and develop coordination and good sportsmanship.
Take some time to watch birds or study fish. Count the different kinds, and talk about what they look like, how they move around, and what they eat. You might want to give your child a small net to catch sea horses or fish and help him put them in a jar to observe.
If your family's spending some time at the beach, how about joining in some clean-up efforts? Helping pick up trash (monitor this closely) will not only teach your child the value of community service, but also develop her respect for the environment.