If you’re looking forward to teaching your kid to build a sandcastle masterpiece this summer, you’re going to need a few choice tools and a whole lot of patience. Because sand doesn’t assemble nearly as easily as Legos do, but is super fun to throw. With the gear on this list, you might have a prayer of nurturing a mini Michael-sand-gelo, but more likely you’re going to be the one toiling away in the sun trying to build a modern day monument to your little tyrant. Luckily, all this stuff is kid-tested and dad-approved. Or is it the other way around? Either way, happy shoveling.
Quut Ballo Beach ToyFinally, high design has caught up with the most fundamental toy in your beach bag: the bucket. Ballo doesn’t just look cool, it’s made with small hands in mind. The rope handle is easy to grip and comfortable to carry while the spherical shape keeps it stable, which means fewer spills, which means fewer meltdowns. Because it’s not like there’s a vast, endless supply of water a few steps away.
Quut Ballo Beach Toy ($20)
Green Toys Sand Play SetIf you look at Ballo and think, “All we had in my day was a shovel and a bucket!” you’ll want to give your kid this set from Green Toys. It’s no frills, just the basics: bucket, shovel, rake, and sandcastle mold. It’s also BPA-free and made from recycled plastic — actually from those old milk containers you might remember, gramps — so you can feel good about preserving your kid’s future while lodging your tastes firmly in the past.
Green Toys Sand Play Set ($16)
Handtrux Backhoe SetFor a truck-obsessed little kid, the only thing cooler than seeing a bulldozer is being a bulldozer. Handtrux makes it suddenly possible for them to move more sand with their little hands than they ever could with a normal shovel, and as a bonus it doubles as a sweet Transformers costume come Halloween.
Handtrux Backhoe Set ($40)
Hape Mayan PyramidBecause your kid doesn’t just build sandcastles — he builds sand monuments. However, if said monument includes a waterslide into a shark-filled lagoon, consider it a message that they would rather be vacationing in the Bahamas.
Hape Mayan Pyramid ($6)
HABA Baudino Spilling Funnel XXLAny time you can get your kid to carry the sand and the water in the same bucket, and use said bucket to build a unique sand structure, you buy your kid that bucket. And if you’re doing the building, well, only one hand required to use the equipment means the other hand is free to hold your beer. Remember, you’ve graduated from that other kind of funnel.
HABA Baudino Spilling Funnel XXL ($9)
HABA Baudino Hand Sand MillWatch in amazement as your kid watches in amazement at the sand or water flowing through the funnel and spinning the mill. You’d think they’d be impressed by the afternoon of backbreaking labor you just put in to build them a scale replica of Castle Black, but nah. A mill on the other hand — endless entertainment. Look at it spin!
HABA Baudino Hand Sand Mill ($45)
Kid O CuppiThe Kid O Cuppi is 3 toys in 1 — a shovel, a sieve, and a ball — so your kid will still have a toy left to play with after he unintentionally sacrifices 2 to Poseidon. The set is designed with your kid’s hands in mind, so they can easily carve sandcastles or tracks for rolling the ball, or play their old favorite beach game, “Throw sand and balls at dad.”
Kid O Cuppi ($13)
Quut Alto Beach ToyThe ingenious click-and-stack design of the Alto makes for quick and easy cleanup and transport, which is good news for you. It also makes it possible to build multi-tiered sand towers without precariously trying to dump one bucketful of sand on top of an already unstable other bucketful of sand, which is… well, also good for you. Be honest — whose sandcastle is it, really?
Quut Alto Beach Toy ($22)
Red Rooster Toy Company Beach StampsOn the other hand, if you want all the fun of making sand art without all the frustration of trying to build things with woefully unsound materials, grab this 15-piece stamp set from Red Rooster. Not only will you get a perfect impression every time, but the stamps strap to hands or feet, which means you can create entire scenes by just walking on the beach. Okay, so your sand scene won’t be as impressive as this guy’s, but you’ll also be sipping an umbrella drink through a straw while he’s using his for detail work.
Red Rooster Toy Company Beach Stamps ($20)
Wotvo Sand Away Mesh Tote BagToys go in, sand goes out. Specifically, sand goes out back onto the beach, not in your trunk or on your carpet. Don’t overthink it — it’s really that simple.
Wotvo Sand Away Mesh Tote Bag ($8)