Kids love the beach. It doesn't matter if you visit in the heat of summer or on a blustery day in winter, kids love to run along the sand and relish the freedom of exploring somewhere new. Summer in Sydney goes on for so long, that you think the blissful days of sunshine are never going to end. When the hot days start to wane and a chill gets in the air, however, don't despair, you can still spend time down the beach. In fact, you will find it even more enjoyable in the cooler months, as you may be the only people there!
One of the best parts of going to the beach with kids is that it provides stimulating, outdoor entertainment that is completely free. All you need to do is pack a few supplies, take a picnic lunch and give in to the fact that your car will be a sandy mess by the time you get home again! But what's a bit of sand, when you've all had so much fun?
What activities do your kids love to do when you go to the beach?
Collecting Shells for Crafts is our family's favourite past-time when going to the beach. As there is often wild surf and high tides, you never know what you are going to find at the high tide line, or down along the water's edge. Look for a wide range of shells that you can use for craft items when you get home. If you find shells with holes in them, you can thread them for a stunning shell necklace or if you find many of the same size, you can glue them to a frame for a beachy look. Glue some googly eyes onto them for shell pets or paint them with nail polish and display them in their room. Let the kids get creative and see what they come up with!
* Ensure that you don't collect shells which still have animals inside and if you are going to a beach within a national park, check the park website to see if you are allowed to collect shells.
Grab your bucket and look for pretty shells, to get crafty with later
Sand Shapes is a fun way to get creative and do some drawing on the sand. Ask your child to lay down on some smooth, hard sand and trace the outline of them with a long stick. Get them to hop up and then decorate the silhouette - add lines for clothes, shells for buttons and seaweed for hair to complete the picture. When you've finished, start again and make a whole family of characters - just watch the tide doesn't come in!
Making Sandcastles is also the obvious choice when going down the beach - you can do it in summer and it is just as fun in winter! If you want to take it up a level, take some things from home to decorate the castle, such as little LEGO figurines to look out through the windows, a flag for the top and plastic gems to turn it into an authentic princess castle. Your kids will be surprised when you start pulling out the castle accessories!
Sandcastles don't need to be so plain - jazz them up with LEGO figurines and craft supplies from home
Explore The Rockpools and see if you can spot fish and starfish in the shallows and teach your kids about sea animals. One of our family's favourite places to explore is at Long Reef, on Sydney's Northern Beaches. On our last visit, we took a picture book showing what animals you could find in rock pools and "ticked off" each one when we found them. Alternatively...
Make Your Own Tick List of things to find at the beach, and watch your kids run around trying to find them all! You could make up your own list on the computer with photos, so kids will find it easier to recognise the pictures or draw the pictures by hand. Pick easy items such as shells, seagulls and seaweed, as well as some unusual items that will be harder to find.
Make your own tick list and watch your kids run around trying to find them all!
Collect Flowers from the plants on the sand dunes and when you get home, lay them between two layers of baking paper and place them under something heavy. A week later, pull them back out and glue them onto a piece of paper and get your child to add to it and turn it into a collage. Put it in a photo frame and next time you go to the beach and make another one, replace the picture, for a rotating memory of your visits that your child will love.
These are just some ideas of things to do down the beach with kids - what do you love to do? Please add your comments to the top of this article and share your top tips - parents and carers can never have too many ideas. The only limit is your child's imagination!