As a mum, you come to realise that your kids have an almost magical ability to create fun and games from anything and everything they come across. You could empty your purse taking them to a theme park or theatre show but you know that they’d have had the same amount of fun staying at home playing with the worms in the garden and cardboard boxes (as well as their imaginary friend, natch).
This is why at Haven, we’re big (big) fans of the beach. The UK is privileged to have nearly 20,000 miles of coastline, and nearly all of it is free for anyone to explore. For kids (and parents too, admit it), the beach is a bit like paying a visit to brand new playground, chock full of new activities and distractions.
To celebrate the diverse nature of our coastline, we’ve compiled five brilliantly blustery ways to make the most out of visiting the seaside for you and your kids.
1. Pebble Skimming
If anything takes us back to our hazy memories of early seaside holidays, it’s skimming pebbles across the beautifully bumpy British tide.
Even if you never managed more than two bounces on the waves before the stone sank into the water, never to be seen again, never fear.
We’ve hunted high and low to find skimming tips that’ll make you and your little ones kings and queens of the waves. If you’re a champion skimmer, why don’t you leave us a tip in the comments?
When looking for your pebble:
– try and find ones that are as thin and light as possible
– palm-sized pebbles also work well (it’s how world champion Russell Byars likes his, and he achieved a record 51 skims, so who are we to argue?)
When you throw your pebble:
– crouch down to the ground and prepare to throw the pebble as low as you can
– practice spinning the stone, which will help maintain stability when you throw it
– when you’re ready to throw, inject as much force into it as you possibly can, whilst keeping it horizontal and putting spin on it (phew!).
The basic normal rules apply but with a seaside twist by creating your masterpiece in the sand!
How to play
Before you head to the beach the Judge (someone who is not playing) should prepare several words written on individual bits of paper. Make the words something that the kids can easily draw and can be created quite easily, or for older kids make it a bit more challenging.
There are five categories the words can be broken into:
– Person, place and animal
– All play (it can be word from any of the above categories and both teams draw at the same time)
Split into two teams and decide who will be taking on the challenge first. Each team has one minute to draw what is on the card for their team to guess.
If the team guesses correctly then they get a point and it’s the other teams turn.
Keep doing this until you run of cards or every has had enough of being an artist for the day!
Top tip! Grab seaweed, pebbles and anything else you can find on the beach to add to your pictures.
3.Rock pooling and crabbing
For the wildlife fans out there, these activities should be at the top of your lists.
Arm your little one with a pair of wellies, a pot filled with sea water and a net (if you’ve got one) and get them rockpool rummaging.
Depending on where you are in the UK, you might uncover shore crabs (Sussex), starfish (Norfolk) and blue rayed limpets (North Wales). Whatever you retrieve, remember to put it back right where you found it. Once you’re at home, why not encourage your kid to create their own paper aquarium by drawing what they encountered on the sandy shores that day?
Whilst many mums might prefer crab served with some grilled veg and new potatoes, it’s likely your kids will be fascinated by the chance to view these weirdly curious, crustaceans up close. Not only will they get to enjoy the thrill of catching their own animal, they’ll also be able to watch them scuttle around and observe how different animals work in water
Thanks to the huge stretch of coastline that the UK boasts, there are ample opportunities to try crabbing near you. We’ve prepared a simple list of tips and instructions to get your crabbing adventures off to a flying start.
Your crabbing kit
Bait: bacon rind or sardines are crabs’ favoured foodstuff
Equipment: a crabbing line, net and a bucket (filled with seawater). A magnifying glass is a nice extra.
1. Find yourself a harbor wall, millpond or fishing port and head there when the tide is high.
2. Once you’ve chosen your spot, grab the end of your line and tie a small piece of bacon rind or sardine to the end
3. Lower the line into the water and play the waiting game – around five minutes should be enough time to attract some crabs.
4. After five minutes give the line a tug and use your net to catch the crab which is (hopefully!) attached to the end of your line. Gently place into the bucket of seawater
5. After you’ve finished observing, carefully place your six-legged pals back into the water.
4. Shell Hunting
If you find yourself heading to a pebble beach, never fear. Present your kids with a bucket, bag, or large container, and set them a challenge to find the most mind-blowingly beautiful shells they can find. If they like what they find, they could create their own “mini beach” when they go home using this idea, or thread them onto string and give them as gifts to family and friends.
Top tip! While you’re on the beach with your new found treasures turn them in to a simple game of Jacks on the beach!
We all know that one of the best things about going to the beach is sandcastles. The joy of creating a perfectly smooth, break-free sandcastle can only be equated with that of being ahead of schedule on the school-run.
We want to turn things up a notch and get your kids building the Sand palaces of their dreams!
For your kids, the proposition of several kilometers of sand as their canvas will be enough to set their imaginations to “run riot” mode. As you walk along the beach, encourage them to dig around for discarded shells, eye-catching stones, and other beach relics to stud their creations.
We love a bit of recycling so keep all those bottles, coffee cups and ice cream tubs that you’ve collected during your holiday to create unique towers and turrets that would be fit for a Queen!
And if you’re short on spades don’t worry as little hands like working with smaller spoons from the kitchen, or plastic tumblers.