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How to Build Sand Castles and Sculptures With Kids

Rehoboth Beach, DE Sandcastle Competition Entry

Rehoboth Beach, DE Sandcastle Competition Entry

Woman Sculpting Face at Rehoboth Beach Competition

Woman Sculpting Face at Rehoboth Beach Competition

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 a while, 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 article's for you. With a few simple tools, family teamwork 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.

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
  • Straws
  • A large plastic spray bottle filled with water (this should not be salt water as salt will clog the nozzle)

Helps Kids Make Friends

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 teamwork 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

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 an 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 piece?

Once you have agreed on 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 mold 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 a while longer by spraying bottled water over the entire castle or sculpture.

Awesome Captain America Sculpture

Girl Working on Turtle

Turtle Sculpture

Mouse Castle & Cheese

Hide-N-Squeek Mouse Castle Rehoboth Beach Contest Entry

Hide-N-Squeek Mouse Castle Rehoboth Beach Contest Entry

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, DE 2011 Sandcastle Contest

All of the above photos in this article 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.

This author 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.

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 article 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.

Sand Castle Poll


Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on July 18, 2013:

Hi Vespawoolf,

So glad you learned something useful from this hub. In the end it's all about experimentation and practice. Some of us (like myself) will never be able to create masterpieces like these contestants did, but attempting to make any kind of sculpture or castle no matter how crude is fun, especially if done with family/friends.

I'm glad you're inspired to do so during your next beach trip.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on July 18, 2013:

Hi FlourishAnyway,

So glad you found this info helpful and inspirational and hope you had fun at the beach and were able to build some neat sculptures.

Thanks so much for the vote up and share. It's greatly appreciated.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on July 16, 2013:

What at awesome Hub! I love the photos you took at the sand castle competition. I didn't realize the key was adding "sand to water" and not vice versa. Maybe that's been my issue...not enough water. I could never hope to build something as artistic as what I see here. Still, it would make a fun project next trip to the beach. Thanks for sharing!

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 16, 2013:

Very nice sculptures to inspire any sand artist. We're at the beach now and will definitely give this a try. Voted up, awesome, and shared.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on September 14, 2012:

Hi Barbergirl,

Yes, starting from the top down should make a difference as does focusing on the fun of "doing" more than how the final product looks. LOL

Also, a relatively easy thing to sculpt is basic sea creatures like fish and turtles.

Good luck next time you make a sand creation.

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on September 14, 2012:

Like you I am artistically challenged. Therefore, while I have good intentions usually what I am left with is a disfigured lump of sand. However, I will also admit that I have never sculpted from the top down before. Maybe that is where all my trouble is coming in! :)

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on September 05, 2012:

Hi Girishpuri,

Hope you do get the opportunity to build simple sand sculptures or castles with kids one day.

Thanks so much for the vote up. It's greatly appreciated.

Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on September 05, 2012:

great share, i have never done with children, great sand sculptures, voted awesome.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on September 05, 2012:

Hi Deborah,

So thrilled that you enjoyed the hub and photos.

I, too, wish I could make sand castles like the people who entered these elaborate ones in the contest.

But even when making much more modest castles or sculptures, creating structures with sand is fun, no matter what our age is.

Thanks for leaving such a lovely comment.

Hope you have a great day,


Deborah Brooks Langford from Brownsville,TX on September 04, 2012:

wow what awesome HUB.. I love this.. I love the beach and I wish I could make sand castles like this....., blessings

sleep well

write great..


Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 20, 2012:

Hi Mrpip,

Thanks for your wonderful comment. I read your hub about State Quarter Collecting and loved the way you used that hobby to bond with your kids in an inexpensive, fun and meaningful way.

So often, parents feel bad when they can't afford to take their kids to expensive, touristy places, and they miss the opportunities that simple, inexpensive activities such as your coin collecting, or building sand castles (even if they're simply in a back yard sand box) can bring.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 20, 2012:

Hi Lyricwriter,

So glad you enjoyed the article. Yes, I can imagine you building an awesome, big sand castle, taking photos of it and writing a song or poem that would memorialize it forever!

Thanks so much for your kind words and the vote up. They're greatly appreciated.

Hub Hugs and Love,


mrpip on August 19, 2012:

Great Hub! I enjoy anything that involves doing fun stuff with the kids. Sand castles is a great one. I also wrote about two separate vehicles for bonding with your kids, State QuArter collecting and Fantasy football. Voted Up!

Richard Ricky Hale from West Virginia on August 19, 2012:

HBN. don't know how I ever missed this one, sorry. Another well written informative article. Loved and enjoyed all these awesome sand castles! I would like to try a big sand castle. When I was younger, I just didn't jave the craft and patience to build one. Now, I think I could. Plus doing it with the children, great all the way around. Voted up and all the way across but funny. Awesome job Gail!

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on June 03, 2012:

Me, too. Oh, and building a real mansion at the beach would be very cool!

Thanks for leaving a comment.

ally on June 03, 2012:

i would like to know how to make a sand mansion at the beach?

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on January 06, 2012:

Welcome Femmeflashpoint,

It was fun to put together and it was a happy day watching those castles go up.

Am so glad you had a seaside vacation and had some time to sit back, enjoy the surf and watch the youngsters create sandcastles. Sounds like you're off to a great start for 2012!

Best Regards,


femmeflashpoint on January 06, 2012:


This had to be such a fun article to put together! I loved the photos and the commentary.

I thought of you last week when I was watching the surf roll in on the Texas coast, lol.

It was my first time to be on beach sand in longer than I care to admit. It was wonderful.

Very windy, but there were a few youngsters making sandcastles (or attempting to) not far from shore, and I enjoyed seeing them so much I would have been content to have watched them the whole afternoon.


Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on September 29, 2011:

Hi Alicia,

So glad you enjoyed the hub. I think building sand castles is one of the best ways to tap into a child like joy and appreciation of the beach no matter what our chronological age is. Thanks for your lovely comment. It's appreciated.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 28, 2011:

We have some wonderful sand sculpture competitions near where I live, which are always great fun to visit. I loved reading your hub and looking at the photos. The information about building sand sculptures and castles is very useful. I used to love making sand castles as a child, but I think it would be fun to do as an adult too!

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 16, 2011:

Hi Dee aka Nonna,

How wonderful that the extended family, including several generations will be spending a week at the beach together. Building sandcastles and sculptures will be a great way to have fun together. Hope you write a hub about your vacation when you get back home. It's sure to be an adventure filled time.

Dee aka Nonna on August 16, 2011:

OMG, how wonderful to find this. My grandchildre and their other grandmother, her sister and the mothers of our grandchildren (I have 2, she have 6) will be spending a week at the beach in a few days. This will be a great activity for all of us to do. thank you.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 14, 2011:

Hi Denise,

Your boardwalk hub seemed like a natural fit and I was happy that I could link to it!

Love your simple sand castle. The toothpick and napkin flag topper is very creative. hehe.

Glad you liked the photos and that I'm not the only one without technological savvy. Danette's hub has been a blessing in helping me improve the layouts of my last few hubs. She made it easy to follow her explicit instructions.

Thanks so much for leaving such a great comment.

Denise Handlon from Michigan on August 12, 2011:

Hi Gail-I must have been travelling the day you posted this but, by Danette's comment you made 100? Good going!

Great hub and thank you for adding my boardwalk link here-I appreciate it.

These sculpted sandcastles have always amazed me. They are pure works of art and I am in your class-give me a bucket and shovel and that is it...if I have a toothpick and napkin laying around from lunch I'll add a flag at the top, LOL

Great photos and I had to smile about Danette's hub--I just referred back to it myself regarding the 'blue' side bar. My, my it is a wonder all I am learning in this techno age, :)

Rated it up and across-well deserved!

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 09, 2011:

Hi ThelmaC,

So glad you enjoyed the hub and photos.

Thanks for taking time to leave such lovely feedback. I greatly appreciate you following my hubs.

Thelma Raker Coffone from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA on August 09, 2011:

I always enjoy your hubs and this one is especially good. You came up with a great topic and the pictures are awesome!


Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 08, 2011:

Hi b. Malin,

So glad you enjoyed the photos and tips. I agree that building sand castles, and even just looking at them taps into the wonder of childhood no matter how old we actually are. Didn't know about the A.C. contest. We're blessed to live near beaches aren't we?

b. Malin on August 08, 2011:

May we NEVER grow to old to appreciate and build Sand Castles...What a Delightful Hub Gail and what Talented people and Kids displaying their Creativity...Wow! We also have them in A.C. along the Boardwalk and it's always a fascinating show. Great Tips from you, thanks for sharing such Wonderful Pictures!

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 08, 2011:

So glad you liked it Eiddwen. It's fun swapping photos from across the Atlantic ocean isn't it?

Here's to reading many more of each other's hubs.



Eiddwen from Wales on August 08, 2011:


What a unique and great hub. I thoroughly enjoyed it and here's to many more.

Take care


Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 08, 2011:

Hi Cardelean,

Your enthusiastic review made my day as thinking about your adorable kids building sand castles on their upcoming vacation brought a big smile to my face. Hope you get some great photos and/or video about your family's unique sandcastle creation.

So glad you enjoyed the photos. I added the photo thumb nail collection and also the sidebar about Lucinda Wierenga's inexpensive paperback book: "Sandcastles Made Simple" after reading Danette Watt's "How to Create a Great Hub: Adding Visual Interest," and was very pleased by the visual improvement Danette's tips helped me create.

Hope you have a wonderful, very well earned, vacation.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 08, 2011:

Hi Pamela99,

So glad this hub brought back fond memories of your boys and that you enjoyed the photos. I really appreciate your feedback.

cardelean from Michigan on August 08, 2011:

This is an amazing hub. I've always admired people who had such a talent for sand creations. I have never seen them up close either and I would probably be as giddy as a school girl looking at all of them. You gave some great information about building and we are going to try them out when we go on vacation this week! The photos were awesome as well!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 08, 2011:

I built sandcastles with my boys when they were young and your hub brought back those precious memories. The pictures were awesome and we never built anything quite that fancy but I love that you included directions. Awesome hub.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 07, 2011:

Hi Peggy,

I was so in awe of these talented "builders" and "sculptors" and thrilled to have the opportunity to photograph and share their creations. The beach was crowded, parking scarce and I had to walk 3/4 of a mile to get down to the contest section but it was well worth the hike.

Thanks for the vote up and I hope you do make it to the Galveston contest some year.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2011:

What great photos of the fine time you had yesterday viewing all of these great sand castles. There is a competition in Galveston each year but we have never made it down there to view them in person. Wonderful information on how to build a sand castle. Voted up, useful and beautiful.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 07, 2011:

Hi Hyphenbird,

If I posted my own I'd be the laughing stock of Hub Pages. Thanks for making me smile, too, and for taking time to leave a comment.

Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on August 07, 2011:

Well they certainly don't look like the ones you posted. But we like them. laugh

Thanks for a fun and happy Hub.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 07, 2011:

Thanks for leaving such a great comment Danette.

Am glad you learned something new as I just finished reading your excellent series for New Hubbers who want to learn how to write good hubs. I was surprised on how much valuable information was in them for more seasoned hubbers like myself.

Learning is one of the great joys of hubbing, isn't it?

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 07, 2011:

Thanks Alekhouse,

Fun trumps perfection and talent when creating sand castles and sculptures. If I had to create sculptures like the ones in the Rehoboth Beach Competition, I'd never build anything in the sand.

Love the Outer Banks in North Carolina and am blessed to have spent many vacations there and hopefully will spend many more.

I appreciate your taking time to leave a comment.

Danette Watt from Illinois on August 07, 2011:

What I enjoyed most about this hub is that I found out how to do sand sculpting. I didn't know about the 50/50 sand/water solution or that sand needs to be added to water rather than water to sand.

(great photos by the way!)

I've always admired people who have an idea what they want to create and then are able to sculpt it from sand, clay or some other medium. Voted up and across the board (except funny).

PS - congrats on your hubber score!

Nancy Hinchliff from Essex Junction, Vermont on August 07, 2011:

Beautiful sand sculptures. Brings back lots of memories at the beach in North Carolina when I was a kid...only my sand castles didn't look anywhere this good.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 07, 2011:

Welcome Case1worker,

Thanks for the lovely comment. My own sand castles are very basic which is why I admire those who can create sand sculptures and castles like the ones I shared in this hub. But regardless of artistic talent we can all have fun creating sculptures in the sand.

CASE1WORKER from UNITED KINGDOM on August 07, 2011:

Lovely to see, we have just returned from a day at the beach where it was sunny- a feat in England. I think we would be embarrassed to publish our pictures after seeing these. A lovely hub

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 07, 2011:

Hi jwhitman,

Thanks so much for your wonderful comment. I can tell you're as enthusiastic about sand creations as I am. Have fun letting your creativity soar the next time you're at the beach with your kids. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 07, 2011:

Welcome DevBlue,

So glad you enjoyed my hub and thank you for taking time to leave a comment.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 07, 2011:

Hi Melovy,

So glad you liked this hub and that it's inspired you to start building more elaborate creations the next time you're at the beach. The best thing is that if you mess up, you can let the kids smash it down and start all over again, but not until you've taken a picture of your first attempt. Kids need to know that art, as in everything else they do in life, doesn't have to be perfect.

Love your avatar, btw.

Gail Sobotkin (author) from South Carolina on August 07, 2011:

Hi jseven,

Those of us living near beaches that have sand castle and sculpting contests are blessed. I love going to the annual contest in Rehoboth Beach, DE and was thrilled to write a hub showcasing some of the exhibits from yesterday's event.

jwhitman from Albany, New York on August 07, 2011:

Another fantastic hub! I absolutely loved all of the fantastic photos of the sand sculptures. Building sand castles and sculptures is a great activity to do when spending time on the beach- I'm always digging in the sand with my kids everytime we're at the ocean.

DevBlue from Mauritius on August 07, 2011:

Very interesting and informative Hub. Thanks for sharing

Yvonne Spence from UK on August 07, 2011:

These sand sculptures are amazing. As my avatar shows, I and my family love to build sand castles, but we’ve never attempted anything elaborate. This just might change next time we’re on the beach!

Joey from Michigan on August 07, 2011:

Very cool hub with great sand sculpting pics. :) Our town has a sand sculpting contest every summer and it is fun to watch.