This blog is part of our “Summer Sparks” series where we will give you tips to inspire a summer of wonder! For more ideas on how to encourage imagination all summer long check out more blogs and toys!
Our boys love the beach, but traveling to the shoreline is not always manageable with our summer swim lesson schedule. You don’t have to travel to enjoy the beach though! A backyard beach zone makes playtime a splash, just steps away!
We set up a backyard beach last week to celebrate the end of school. Having a special playtime theme made finishing the school year more exciting, plus, it set the scene for creative playtime this summer!
• Beach towels? Check.
• Water and water toys? Check.
• Sand and sand toys? Check.
• Dolphin? Check. Wait, dolphin!? YES! See how we even worked a dolphin into our scene.
Using some kid-sized tables, I set up a sand play spot and a water table spot. Throwing beach towels down on the ground created a “chill zone,” and placing more beach towels and printed fabric over the play tables gave our backyard beach some colorful underwater flair!
At the water table, which is just an under-bed storage bin filled with water, I dropped in Seaside Sidekicks Squirters Water toys, Clicker Crab Hourglass funnel and sifter, and the Giddy Buggy watering can (doesn’t he look just like a beach ball!?). No explanation needed for this play activity! Kids will dive right into the splashy action with all those water toys to keep them busy.
In the sand play area, I used an old serving tray with low sides, plus a shallow bin to create two sensory bin areas.
I created “salt water” by mixing Epsom salts with a little vinegar and food dye (let dry overnight). After spreading this “water” out on the serving tray, I buried pirate coins from our Maritime Mates Undersea Treasure Hunt pool toy for the kids to find. They loved digging through the salt to find the coins and gems and drop them into the treasure chest. Then they could hide them again for each other.
The other bin had a few scoops of sand, and the Seaside Sidekicks Sand Cupcake Set, plus the Speck Seahorse Sifter. Don’t have play sand available? Not to worry! Create your own sand by mixing flour and baby oil (or any oil) until you get a sandy texture. This sensory “cloud dough” play sand sticks together well, making it perfect for sand mold toys!
The boys baked up sand cupcakes with starfish toppers as fast as I could pretend to “eat” them! Then squish and repeat!
After all that water and sand play, the boys needed a little down time! Isn’t it fun to spot a leaping bottlenose dolphin at the beach? And that’s just what we did! Even got to “swim” on the towels with their new plush dolphin friend for a bit! The boys flopped in the “chill zone” with their smiling dolphin friend, who is just their size (literally!), and was happy to snuggle with the boys. They spent some quiet playtime searching for hidden sea creatures in the Water Wow Under the Sea activity book.
The best part about our backyard beach is that it’s easy to pack and store for another sunny summer afternoon. Just dump the water and put the lids on the bins to protect the sand and “salt water,” and bring out for more beach play another day.
A backyard beach set up is perfect for sensory themed play dates with friends too, as there are countless ways to play! Plus, it’s a lot easier to get to a beach, when it’s just a few steps outside our back door!