How to Build Sand Castles & Sculptures With Kids
Woman Sculpting Face
Sand Castles and Sculptures are Fun to Look at and Build
You arrive at the beach and are delighted to see that there's a sand castle contest going on. For awhile the children are content to watch the contestants build super structures for the competition, but then they ask you to help them build their own imaginative creation. Do you know how to teach them the basics of building with sand? If not, or if you want to learn a few more tips that will be age appropriate for your child's building and sculpting activities this hub's for you. With a few simple tools, family team work and a basic plan the whole family can spend several hours playing in the sand. But before we begin make sure the kids are appropriately dressed and protected from the sun. Light colored tee shirts, sun hats, sunglasses and plenty of sunscreen will help prevent painful burns that can ruin everyone's vacation. Also bring water and/or juice to keep them well hydrated and snacks to hold them over till mealtime.
"Sandcastles Made Simple" by Lucinda Wierenga
- A renowned sand sculptor, Lucinda Wierenga, provides step by step directions to building impressive sandcastles.
- Lucinda teaches you how to build a base, staircase, roof, balcony and other parts of a castle and then combine the features to make a unique creation.
- Now available in paperback and Kindle versions through Amazon.com.
Sand Sculpting Tools
There's no need to spend money on fancy sand sculpting tool kits, although most beach resorts will be happy to sell them to you. Great creations can be built with the following basics:
- Plastic shovels
- Various sized buckets and pails, cups and bowls
- Tools for carving such as plastic knives, forks, spoons and spatulas
- Pieces of string for shaving and shaping
- A large plastic spray bottle filled with water (this should not be salt water as salt will clog the nozzle)
Helps Kids Make Friends
Reasons to Build Sand Castles With Your Kids
In addition to the main reason which is to have fun at the beach, building sand castles and sculptures together will:
- Teach kids about team work and cooperation
- Help stimulate their imaginations
- Provide plenty of exercise
- Teach them patience
- Promote a feeling of accomplishment
- Improve your child's self-esteem
- May help your child make a new friend or friends at the beach
- Teach your child a new skill
- Give your child something to write or talk about when he/she goes back to school
Tiki Sand Castle
What Shall We Build?
Tips for Building Sand Castles and Sculptures
The following tips will give you a good start but remember that practice is important and starting out with simple designs is best if your kids are very young and/or this is your first attempt at building since your own childhood. Before starting decide as a group what structure you want to build. A castle? Starfish? Shark? Whimsical Shark with arm sticking out of its mouth? A mermaid? A themed grouping such as Breakfast at the Beach (sunny-side egg, bacon strip, pancake with pat of butter and syrup)? Or one of the sculptures shown in the photos in this hub?
Once you have agreed what to sculpt or build you need to keep the following basics in mind:
- Location: Choose one that's three or four feet back from the previous night's peek for the tide line. You can usually tell the tide line by looking for a line of debris such as ocean plant residue or a shelf of sand that was carved by the water.
- Use Plenty of Water: Follow the adage, "Add sand to water, not water to sand." A great foundation starts with plenty of water, so have the kids start hauling buckets of water and have them pour it onto the dry sand that you want to build on. Assign one person to start piling the wet sand up and begin packing it as high and wet as possible. Once the pile is the desired height (usually two to four feet) start pouring a 50/50 mixture of sand and water from each pail. If blended properly, it will pour like mud and start to firm up within a few seconds. You are now ready to mould the structure into the basic shape you've decided to create.
- Carve from the top down. Visualize your desired creation as you start to carve and remove anything that's not in your design plan. You can create bricks or stones by cutting lines then blowing out the loose sand with a straw (make sure your eyes are covered to prevent getting sand in them).
- Preserve your creation for awhile longer by spraying bottled water over the entire castle or sculpture.
Awesome Captain America Sculpture
Girl Working on Turtle
Mouse Castle & Cheese
Age Appropriate Tips for Building Sand Castles and Sculptures
The following tips are great for kids that are 3 to 4 years old:
- Provide plenty of help and supervision.
- Keep structures simple, such as a fish or turtle.
- Use very wet sand, re-wetting it with the spray bottle as needed.
Tips for kids that are 5 to 8 years old:
- Add some details.
- Suggest they use small toys or figurines or shells and stones to create more interesting features.
- Take a picture or make a video of their creation to document its progress.
Tips for kids that are 9 to 12 years old:
- Encourage them to build taller, bigger castles and sculptures.
- Encourage them to use the Internet to find pictures of what they want to build.
Rehoboth Beach 2011 Sand Castle Contest EntriesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Rehoboth Beach, DE 2011 Sandcastle Contest
All of the above photos in this hub were taken at the 33rd annual Sandcastle Contest in Rehoboth Beach, DE. About 70 to 80 teams participated in the event and competed in two categories - Adults (age 15 and older) and Children (age 7 to 14.) The event is so popular that some contestants have been participating in it for the past 15 to 20 years.
The author of this hub confesses that she never entered a sandcastle contest as she is artistically challenged, but she does enjoy making rudimentary sand castles at the beach and greatly admires anyone who can make sculptures and castles as grand as the ones seen at the Rehoboth Beach Sandcastle Contests.
Photo Gallery of 2012 Rehoboth Sand Castle EntriesClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Sand Castle Contest is an Annual Event
The annual Rehoboth Beach Delaware Sand Castle Contest is held in August on the north end of the boardwalk.
Those seeking information about this popular annual event can call 302-227-2233.
Good Luck With Your Sand Sculpture
I hope this hub has inspired you and your family to make a unique sand castle or sculpture. Doing so will create a wonderful vacation memory. Taking a family photo of it before it gets trampled by beach walkers or swept away by the ocean, will give your child something to bring into school for show and tell. You can also frame the picture and keep it on display in your child's room or in the family room.