A day at the beach sounded bucolic before you have kids: You read a book, maybe cracked open a beer, and just reveled in the soothing melody of crashing waves. But when children enter the picture, you need a well-stocked arsenal of beach toys for kids to keep them active and entertained. Sand toys keep them busy, ideally for good chunks of time, and if all goes according to plan, you’ll avoid hearing the dreaded, monotonous refrain of, “I’m bored.”
And while building fanciful structures in the sand is both a rite of passage for kids, and a way for parents to bond with them, it’s also developmentally beneficial. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and child development expert Sarah Taylor Vanover, sand play promotes hands-on learning and sensory exploration. Plus, moving sand around teaches children about the concepts of volume and weight, because sand shifts and sand is heavy. It’s also a great way to encourage creativity and collaborative play, because it’s fun to build a sand castle. But it’s triple the fun if you have other architects helping you dream up ideas and bring them to life.
Whatever you pick, make sure the toys are durable, lightweight, and easy to clean, and aren’t sharp. Sand toys appeal to younger kids, and you don’t want anything that doubles as a weapon.
A sturdy magnifying glass so intrepid explorers can see tiny fish up close.
Toddlers work on their fine motor skills as they use the claw to grab stuff they see in the sand.
A wonderful toy for kids who love trucks or anything on wheels, this one transports and spurts water onto sand to create moats, lakes, and rivers.
Not only is this whimsical set of toys dishwasher-safe (it is), but it's also a fun and funky way to learn about sea creatures. It includes a starfish, scallop, abalone, snail, squid, and jellyfish, all doubling as very cute sand digging and building toys. And everything this brand produces is made from recycled plastic.
This hardy yet lightweight plastic set includes a bucket, sifter, rake, and shovel, plus a slew of sand toys, and a handy mesh bag so nothing gets lost.
It's like badminton for preschoolers. They throw the crabs back and forth and catch them easily thanks to their Velcro stomachs.
This set, made from recycled milk containers, includes a bucket, shovel, rake, and sand mold, so it's slightly more, shall we say, sophisticated. Plus, the bucket has a rope handle, so it's easier for kids to lug around.
What happens when you mix water and sand? Well, this handy tool does just that, and kids can create weird and intricate patterns and designs.
Ahhh, the joys of mud pies. Never gets old. Never gets boring. And this set of shell-shaped measuring cups, octopus whisk, crab mixing spoon, and a mixing bowl really turn any kid into a sand chef.
Builders 3 and up can use this set of blocks, shovel, and 3-D shapes to build the glorious sand creations of their dreams. And when they're done, everything goes into a mesh bag, thus making the tools less of a mess to bring home.
This set includes four sand castle molds that are also buckets. Your kids can use them to tote around sand (or water) and then build fanciful architectural marvels that will dazzle other beachgoers.
What's more annoying than finding a perfect seashell and not having anywhere to put it? Forgetting it at the beach, of course. That nightmare scenario is no more thanks to this mesh bag, which is great for collecting shells, rocks, and other finds, but keeps the sand and water out.
Absolutely no day at the beach is complete without a perfect, bouncy rubber ball. Like this one.
Every beachgoer needs a beach wagon, and this one, from Green Toys, is made from recycled plastic. Kids can store their treasures in this wagon, or use it to lug sand back and forth. It's ideal for for toddlers.
Every single time your kids (or rather, you) whack this beach ball, it lights up. It's 31 inches in diameter and great for kids 3 and up. And adults of any age.
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