It the season for fierce fun at the beach!
It’s hard not to love running with the waves, digging in the sand, and finding treasures at your feet. It’s easy to bring too little or too much with you to the beach. Let’s start off with a good reminder list of what you might want to bring with you if you are taking children to the beach…

Once you’re there, everyone loves finding shells. Some families have a competition to find a list of items. Children love exploring and searching so if you haven’t already tried a Treasure Search Game, you may enjoy it. Start with a list of things to find (you can find them together or everyone can find their own items). Here is a list to get you started; a shell, a feather, a rock, seaweed, driftwood, sighting a bird, sighting a crab, add whatever is common where you visit the beach.
Here are some more simple fun games to play at the beach with your preschooler…

Knowing some shell basics makes finding shells even more interesting. The two most common shell categories are Gastropods (a word most preschooler love to say) and Bivalves (I remind them that a “bi”cycle has 2 wheels). Bivalves have two shells. Preschoolers are old enough to know the difference between gastropods and bivalves. Check the picture above. The gastropods are spiral in nature like a snail or a whelk shell. Bivalves have two shells connected that open and close, like clams, mussels, and oysters. Finding, identifying, and sorting shells into these two families provides some focused fun and learning at the beach. Children do quite well identifying shells with a little practice and if your child loves to identify shells you may want some reference sheets. Laminated identifications cards work great and you don’t have to worry about sand or water harming them…

There are similar guides to birds and fish if you or your child is interested in learning more about life on the shore.
Lastly, as always when outside it’s important to familiarize yourself with and teach your child to identify hazards. Children and adults are happy and confident in nature when they know what to watch out for. Most of us are pretty good at watching out for too much sun and keeping everyone hydrated, and even excellent swimmers have to watch out for rip currents so young children should never be out in the water unaccompanied.
Most beaches post if there are any unusual conditions like red tide (an over abundance of certain algae that can contain natural toxins), sharks sightings, dangerous currents, or winds. Be sure to pay attention to any signs or posted notices.
One of the hazards I see the most is when jellyfish wash up on shore. Many are quite beautiful, like the Portuguese Man-o-war (see picture above). They swim in large communities so they can wash onto the beach in large groups and their stinging tentacles can be extremely long. I have witnessed children who see them moving and want to throw them back in the water. They are beautiful, but teach your child to give them space and never touch.
Special thanks to Rebecca George and Brave Dragonfly Photography for the photo of a child having fierce fun on the beach!! Check out her fabulous art at the link below.