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Free beach-inspired early childhood learning activities

date July 15, 2021

Want some fun, free early years learning activities to do with your children that are linked to the EYFS areas of learning? Look no further! These Kinderly activities are intended to inspire early years practitioners with ideas based on children’s existing interests and fascinations or to ignite the spark of new ones.

Pro tip: Topics should not be followed slavishly; they need to meet the needs and reflect the interests of the children first and foremost. Practitioners should feel able to dip in and out of the ideas provided, extending and adapting them to suit the children in their settings.

1. Talk to your children about holidays

Duration of activity: 15 mins
Ages: 3+ years
Areas of learning: Communication & language | Personal, social and emotional development | Literacy | Understanding the world

Our first activity would involve talking to the children about their holidays. Many of them will choose to visit the beach as their favourite place, but they will all have different memories and experiences.

Find out from parents where they have visited and create a map display with photos and postcards. Talk about different types of beaches: rocky with pools, sandy, pebbles, small coves and wide bays, big waves or calm ripples.

child playing with stones on beach

2. Visit a real beach

Duration of activity: 60+ mins
Ages: All ages
Areas of learning: Mathematics | Personal, social and emotional development | Literacy | Understanding the world | Expressive arts and design

What can you see? What can you hear? What can you find? If there are rock pools, look out for anemones, crabs, mussels and other sea creatures. Use fact books to introduce new vocabulary and record your finds. Usborne Spotters Guides and Collins I-spy are great books for this. Usborne also have spotter’s cards, or create your own.

Younger (and older) children can enjoy making sandhills to jump off or digging holes in the sand – who can dig the deepest? Fill shallow holes with water to create paddling pools. Make sure any deep holes are filled in before you leave so no one falls in!

childminder playing with toddler on beach

Create pictures on the sand with seaweed, shells, pebbles and other beach finds. Take pictures of your creations to print and display. Make marks or write your name in the sand. What shapes can you make? If you can’t get to a real beach most of these activities can also be done at the setting or home too, and remember activities can be adapted for children of all ages. Babies can simply enjoy exploring the feel of the sand, pebbles, driftwood, seaweed etc.

3. Make a mini beach

Duration of activity: 30+ mins
Ages: 2+ years
Areas of learning: Expressive arts and design

As well as an immersive beach you can also create mini beaches, either for small world, imaginative play or as 3-D art. Use trays or washing-up bowls to contain your projects. Yogurt pots make excellent buckets and spoons are great spades, for making miniature sandcastles. These are ideal if children cannot share sand in the setting due to Covid-19. Create beach scenes using glue, sand, sandpaper, fabrics, tissue paper, cellophane, gravel, string, mini-bead shells and creatures!

beach made out of cardboard cutouts

4. Do treasure hunts in the sand

Duration of activity: 15 mins
Ages: 1+ years
Areas of learning: Mathemathics | Understanding the world

This simple idea is always a loved one! Simply hide shells and other beach treasures in the sand for children to find and sort.

sand box full of shells and plastic toys

5. Share seaside-themed stories

Duration of activity: 15 mins
Ages: 18-36 mths
Areas of learning: Personal, social and emotional development | Communication & language

Here are some of the seaside-themed stories we recommend:

  • Wibbly Pig Likes to Have Fun – Wibbly Pig visits the beach and learns that surprises can be scary but also fun and that dropping ice cream can be sad.
  • Tom and Pippo on the Beach – Tom has a lovely day at the beach but is upset at the end of the day when he realises he has lost his treasured monkey, Pippo.
  • Sharing a Shell – Follow the story of a hermit crab as he learns about friendship in this Julia Donaldson-Lydia Monks classic.
  • Lucy and Tom at the Seaside – Follow Lucy and Tom’s adventures at the beach and enjoy Shirley Hughes’ delightful illustrations in this beautifully told story.

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