At the Beach — February 11, 2014 at 5:00 am

7 Creative Twists on Family Fun in the Sand

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While approximately half of the United States has been facing torrential snowstorms, power outages, and terrifying driving conditions this past month, there is no shortage of people dreaming about hitting the beach. (And for those of you who live in regions that don’t get cold…just know that most of the rest of us enviously hate you right now.)  It’s never too early to plan your summer, because, despite the disparity felt looking out your window at the dreary scene today, the good weather will come again–and it will be glorious. Here are a few fun family activities for the beach that you can start daydreaming about right now:

Treasure Hunt!
It may sound like a kid game, but it can easily be played, and enjoyed, at any age. Depending on the participants, you can set up a treasure hunt looking for anything from 5 different colors of rocks to 5 different colors of cocktails. A lot of the treasure hunt experience comes from your imagination; the more you let loose and pretend, the more potential for fun. Sure, you can go with the traditional route of pretending you are pirates looking for buried treasure, but why not think outside the box and be a scuba diver searching for a white whale? Or a skydiver who was blown off course and accidentally landed in the ocean–how will you find your way home? Who/what will you meet along the way? What if you and your family went on a pretend hunt for the elusive water bear? Just think how crazy you can get in the stories you make up for your kids (or gullible significant other).

Tic-Tac-Toe
Basic? Yes, but there’s a reason this game has been around as long as it has. It’s quick, easy to learn, and fun. Even the youngsters or a drunk uncle can join in. Simply wet the sand and draw the criss-cross board with a stick, rock or your finger. For added fun, ask your kids to come up with different shapes than circles and Xs and marvel at their creativity.

Sandcastle Contest
Forgot your fun-shaped plastic bucket and shovel? Great! All the more fun to be had when you have to get sand beneath your fingernails from shoveling up the heavy wet sand by hand. Besides, everyone knows that free-form sand castles make the best water-bear caves anyway.

Beat the Tide
This is basically playing tag with the tide. You chase it out as far as it goes and then hightail it back toward the shore before it ‘catches’ you. If it reaches your ankles, you lost that round. Obviously, ensure anyone playing this is a competent swimmer and adults are nearby supervising.

Frisbee
Another classic beach or park game that’s fun and all, but it also has endless possibilities for creative extensions. For instance, rather than flicking the frisbee back and forth, try tossing it into the water and then racing to see who can swim to it first. Or, try tossing it back and forth while treading water–trust us, it’s much harder than it sounds.

Clamming
If your beach happens to be an ocean beach where clams can be found, take the time to find out when clamming seasons begins, buy a couple of small shovels, and get out there! Kids will not forget their first clamming experience, and it can be extended to an all-day experience by boiling your catch into a delicious homemade clam chowder.

Tide Pooling
Again, if you’re lucky enough to live near an ocean beach, tide pooling never fails to entertain and educate. There are limitless possibilities to fun education while tide pooling: there are sensory activities for babies feeling the differences between hard smooth rocks, spiny barnacles, bumpy starfish, and soft sponges; naming the different shapes and colors you find for toddlers; learning the names of different sea life for older kids and teenagers; and captivating photo opportunities for the thousands of new amateur photographers thanks to Instagram.

We know it’s a taxing winter for many of your out there, but hang in there; Summer will be here soon enough and hopefully you’ve just added a few fun games to try the next time you find your family enjoying a sunny day on the beach.

By Audra Rundle

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