We do not necessarily think of Canadian beaches as a vacation spot, but Canada is full of beaches, each more magnificent than the next, some of which you will find in our list below. And this list is only a fraction of the great beaches in this country.
A beach vacation can be a wonderful family getaway if you’re prepared. Water and sand encourage free play and engage the imaginations of most children who will engage in wonderful undirected activities.
With a list of captivating ideas in hand, your little ones will certainly not be tired after an hour at the beach and may not necessarily want to come home.
The following activities are fun for children and also promote their fundamental motor skills:
1. How deep can you dig?
What’s more fun than digging in the sand? Have your kids see how deep they can dig a hole, and when they can’t go any deeper, see if an adult can fit in it or calculate how long it takes to fill it with water.
What you need : shovels and varying degrees of concentration
Skills developed : lifting and lowering objects
2. The mini putt
Release your inner Phil Mickelson and spend a day on a seaside course. Pick up a set of clubs and balls at the Dollarama near you or improvise with what you can find at the beach. Prepare a few targets to hit or dig holes in the sand for your child to practice their short game.
What you need : a set of sticks and balls
Skills developed : hitting, coordination
3. Beach disc golf
Replace an ordinary game of Frisbee with disc golf. Set up targets with what you brought (like a picnic tablecloth, umbrella, bath towel, you can also dig a hole in the sand). Take turns throwing the Frisbee as close to the target as possible. Young children will move closer to the targets to avoid frustrations.
What you need : at least one Frisbee
Skills developed : throwing
4. Water Bucket Relay Races
Kids love relay races, and at the beach you can replace the egg-in-a-spoon race with a water bucket relay race. Give each child a plastic cup, spoon, or large seashell, have them run to the water, fill their container, and run back to empty it into a bucket. Kids love trying not to spill the water before pouring it into the bucket.
What you need : a bucket and a utensil per child
Skills developed : balance, agility
5. Let’s fly a kite
I don’t know any kid who doesn’t like to fly a kite. Even if there is not much wind, children can race with kites and have a great time watching them fly behind them. Kites can be purchased at toy stores, at Dollarama, or made by kids before heading to the beach.
What you need : a kite bought or made
Skills developed : running
6. Limbo at the beach
The Limbo dance originated in Trinidad in the 1800s. Bring it into the 21st century with a fun version for the beach. Two people hold a pool noodle, skipping rope, or paddle by the ends. In turn, the children try to pass under the “bar”, their backs facing the sand. When all the children have managed to pass under a certain height, lower the bar more and more. If the music does not disturb other vacationers, select a few catchy tunes.
What you need : an object that will serve as a bar and music (optional)
Skills developed : balance, falling, somersaulting
7. Beach bowling
Line up empty bottles or bring your plastic bowling pins and balls from Dollarama. No need to rent shoes that have been worn a few hundred times for beach bowling! Don’t forget to let the younger ones get closer to bowling.
What you need : a set of bowling pins and balls
Skills developed : throwing
8. Beach volleyball
Depending on the age of the children playing, a real net and a volleyball can be used. For the little ones, a beach ball and a bath towel will do just fine. Count the number of round trips your balloon makes.
What you need : a ball (some beaches have nets)
Skills developed : passing and throwing on reception
9. Tug of war, beach version
Stand at the water’s edge with a skipping rope or beach towels tied together. Divide the children (and adults) into two camps. Make sure the center of the rope is just above a line drawn in the sand. Hand one end of the rope to each team and show them how to pull. You may end up in the water!
What you need : a skipping rope and strong muscles
Skills developed : balance
10. The water balloon
Children can form a team or play against each other in this fun game. Give each child a beach ball, squirt gun or sprayer and ask them to stand along a line drawn on the ground. Each child must pinch his balloon with all his strength to spray another line drawn further. Run to the edge of the water to refill the water guns if they are empty or to restart a game.
What you need : water guns and beach balls
Skills developed : running, eye and hand coordination
11. Hopscotch at the beach
Play hopscotch on the sand! Trace the hopscotch squares in the sand with a stick or a rock and use a shell or a stone as a mark. If the sand is hot, wear flip flops or water shoes.
What you need : nothing but a little energy
Skills developed : one-foot jumping, throwing
12. Parachute Games
Kids love parachute games and adults do too. So grab a large beach towel as well as a beach ball, hold the ends and edges of the towel with the ball in the center and watch how high that ball can bounce. Aim for the sky!
What you need : a beach towel and a beach ball
Skills developed : lifting and lowering, motor control of hands and arms
13. Undulating Snake Game
Two children or two adults hold the ends of a skipping rope in the sand. Twist the rope slowly or quickly depending on the age of the children and have them jump over the rope without the “snake” touching them. Be careful, this game can trigger high-pitched cries of joy.
What you need : a skipping rope
Skills developed : jumping with both feet and jumping on one foot
14. Blow bubbles
A beach is a great place to blow and catch bubbles and if the soap spills on the bathing suit, you just need to run in the water to rinse off. The Dollarama is full of bubble soap bottles in various shapes and sizes and you can also make your own before hitting the beach.
What you need : bubble product and bubble circles
Skills developed : running, jumping, arm motor control
Pétanque is learned in no time and is easy to play. The jack or a target is thrown on the sand. The players then send their balls and whoever gets closest to the target wins the point. The game continues until a determined number of points. If you don’t have a bocce set, you can improvise one with rocks or other treasures you find on the beach. Just make sure you don’t hit anyone when it’s your turn!
What you need : a game of bowls or treasures picked up on the beach
Skills developed : throwing
16. Build an inukshuk
Build yourself a magnificent inukshuk. Have your kids collect rocks and sea-polished glass of different sizes and let them build their own monument. The tallest inukshuk in the Guinness Book of World Records is over 37 feet tall, but chances are your kids’ ones are slightly shorter.
What you need : rocks and/or sea-polished glass
Skills developed : coordination
We have even more fun in the sun
Have you tried everything and are you looking for other occupations? Alright, you’re the champions of the Beach Olympics. Here are some other ideas that provide a diversion from typical beach activities and are fun for all ages.
17. Beach Scavenger Hunt
Give each child a list (written or with pictures) and a bucket in which to put their treasures. Suggest they look for driftwood, shells, rocks, round things, something blue, a feather, etc. The list can be long or short depending on your desires and your child’s abilities.
What you need : a bucket to collect the treasures, a list of things to find.
18. Angels in the Sand
It goes without saying that Canadian children have experience making snow angels. Transfer this skill to the sand and make summer angels. They will indeed be full of sand, but that’s what’s fun!
What you need : not have an aversion to sand in your hair
19. Do you want to make a sandman?
Another opportunity to transfer your winter skills to the beach! A sandman can be adorned with pebbles, shells or rocks as eyes and mouth. Kids can use their creativity and use other treasures like feathers or seaweed for their sandman’s nose, arms and clothes.
20. Sand castles/fortified castles/animals
A beach vacation wouldn’t be perfect without digging in the sand. But why stick with a castle (although castles are still super fun to build)? Let your kids let their imaginations run wild and have them make something of their own. If your buildings are near water, make sure you have taken photos of them before the tide comes in.
What you need : shovels, buckets, sticks and anything that could be used to craft something in the sand
21. Picasso in the sand
With a stick, your hands, shovels or rocks, have the children draw a picture, word, or letters in the sand. You can also make a drawing with what you have picked up at the beach.
Whether you’re heading to an ocean or a lake, pack toys, hats and sunscreen and get ready to have some fun (don’t forget healthy snacks and water for energy and stay hydrated).
Enjoy your time at the beach and please send us a postcard telling us where you’ve been. Or save a stamp and drop us a comment below; what worked and what didn’t. And if you have any other ideas to add to the list, share them.