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Leisure

Teach Your Child How to Build Sandcastles

Building sandcastles is one of the things many people look forward to when they head to the beach. Not going to the beach any time soon? How about a sand pile or sandbox for the backyard?

Sand castle building requires patience, skill, and imagination. Whether you are an expert or a beginner it is a good way for your child to focus their creativity.

The medium of sand is fairly cheap, readily available and reusable. You will need a plot of sand not too close to the water’s edge, but close enough to the water for carrying buckets of water to your building area. If you dig down to the water table near the shore, you may not have to carry water at all. If you are building in a sandbox, make sure your sand is at least 10 inches deep.

Tools you will need;

  • Plastic shovels
  • Various sized and shaped buckets
  • Tools for carving sand
  • Plastic knives, forks, spoons and spatulas
  • A plastic spray bottle
  • Pieces of string for shaving and shaping

You will also want to dress your child in a light tee shirt, a sun hat and apply sunscreen, even if it is overcast.

You may need to demonstrate certain techniques while your child is learning. An important hint is having the sand very wet, wetter than you might think.

Deciding what your castle should look like is half the fun. Do you want a dark medieval castle for knights and dragons or one where the princess and her fairy godmother live?

Preschool

Young children don’t need a lot of instruction to build in the sand. They recognize the possibilities immediately. Preschoolers also learn by watching other builders.

Show your child how to wet and pack the sand. If they are using a bucket to create parts of their structure, they will need to fill the bucket to the top with very wet sand so that it will be less likely to crumble when they invert it. Tapping on the bottom with a wooden spoon or shovel usually releases the sand.

Show your youngster how to gently carve doors, windows, and how to make a moat or wall around the castle. If the sand starts to dry out use a spray bottle to re-wet it.

Preschoolers’ structures may not be very fancy and that’s okay. They will still enjoy the feel of the sand and being out of doors. Building in the sand can occupy your child for quite a long time.

Main points to address:

  • Your very young child will need your help.
  • Use very wet sand, re-wetting gently if needed.
  • Keep structures simple and don’t try to be perfect.

Grades K-3rd

Young school age children can begin to build more complex and detailed castles. You will see their imaginations work overtime as they plan and construct their castles.

Various size buckets, bowls and cups can be used to create different sections of the castle and its out buildings. Carefully carving notches on the top of a tall stack will make a fine lookout tower. Tapering a tower by hand will form graceful minarets.

Your child may want to add some plastic figurines or animals to their creation. Making a flag or banner out of tooth picks and small pieces of fabric or paper will add character to the castle.

Sand castles do not last forever, so take a picture of it before it turns back into sand or a dog or jogger flattens it. Of course, if it gets ruined you can always build another!

Main points to address:

  • Children this age can add more detail to their castles.
  • Create interest by adding small figurines.
  • Take a picture so your child can remember their castle.

Grades 4-6th

Older children can build bigger and taller structures using more detail. If they have been building for some time, they may want to go on the Internet and use the keywords “sand castles” or “sand sculpting” to find (awesome) images of castles and other creations for inspiration.

Learning to drip very wet sand into layers will enable the builder to add height without it crumbling. The layers can then be formed and shaped with carving tools. This technique works very well once mastered. Again, wetness is the key.

Some beaches have sand sculpting contests. Structures and sculptures of all types can be seen. There are even professional sand sculptors that are not only famous, but well paid.

But most sandcastles are made for fun, providing a wonderful, relaxing way to express creativity while enjoying the damp grainy texture of the sand. So, next time you are headed to the beach bring along some buckets, shovels and your imagination!

Main points to address:

  • Older children can go higher and get fancier.
  • Dripping very wet sand into layers is a technique used to create stability.
  • The Internet is a good source of ideas and inspiration.

Resources
Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Leisure.

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