Summer is coming up and feeling inspired by my son Q who asks for beach play every day I set out to share our 15 favorite beach sensory play set ups! From play right on the beach, to play in the backyard, to play at our dining room table, you can bring a beach anywhere! This post includes affiliate links.
1. On The Beach Sensory Play
Kicking off our beach inspired play with…play on the beach!
Last summer we packed up and headed to the jersey shore to join Q’s cousins (5yo & 7yo) and have some fun in the sun. Naturally I wasn’t going to the beach without some fun play materials too! Here’s what I brought with us for a different play each day.
The kids were so excited to see what I’d set up each day.
Having the materials on hand led to me being able to quickly set out play for them to enjoy. This was all about providing materials and letting the kids imaginations do the rest.
I made these DIY wine cork stampers but hot gluing these embellishments to wine corks.
I dyed chickpeas, brought some dyed blue rice, and made some play dough to bring, recipe for all below!
Check out my post here all about playing at the beach!
2. White Sand Beach Sensory Play
This beach makes me dream about a private beach my husband and I went to in Costa Rica years ago. It was a beach on a little island right off the coast where the palm trees went right into the water, the water the most beautiful shade of blue, and the skyline was jungle.
I used moon dough for the sand, recipe below, this is about 1/2 the recipe amount. You can store in an airtight container in the fridge and reuse! The water is a little cornstarch and blue food coloring.
I set out our safari LTD boats ( use SCOTTCOTTAGE10 for 15% off their site), our chickadeeswoodentoys peg people ( use SCOTTCOTTAGE!) for 10% off their site) and some buckets and palm trees from a craft store. The shoreline is made bubbly with bubbling botanicals that my friend Birdie makes, check our her etsy shop!
Q had so much fun taking his peg people on a boat ride.
How cute are these mini buckets too? The towels are made from foam I cut out. Q’s interest is exploding into small world play lately and I’m absolutely loving it! You can change up this small world in so many ways, but a flour, oil, water, and food color is really all you need!
Check out the full post here!
We took our white sand and turned it into a coral reef beach.
Here i just changed up the shade of the water, added more bubbling botanicals along the shoreline and added our coral reef toob from safari LTD along with seashells we’ve collected as a family over the years. This is an easy way to reuse and switch up a simple play set up into a new one! Any of our flour sand that gets wet I toss and I keep the rest to reuse.
3. Cereal Sand Beach Play
This became a daily request for Q. “brown beach with blue water mama please” – well easy enough. This TASTE SAFE beach is so easy to make by just grinding up cheerios or cornflakes, or crackers. The water is cornstarch with a little food coloring. Easy!
Like I said, I set out this play almost every day for Q.
He loves the texture of the sand and making “waves” in the water with more water. I set it out with little animals, or shells and he often brings over his own toys to include too!
Check out his favorite set up here!
4. Coral Reef Beach Play
This play was one of our all time favorites! Here’s the full making of video.
What you need is dyed pasta, sand play dough, and sand – and some imagination of course!
Q loved setting this one up with me pushing the pasta into the sand play dough to make our coral reef.
We set out our coral reef toob animals and he spend almost an hour here play ( me too!).
5. Rock Beach Play
One of our favorite places to visit is Maine. I absolutely love their rock beaches! We traveled here as our fist family trip and loved every minute of it.
Here’s what you need to make this set up:
Q and I painted the lighthouse together and gathered rocks from our backyard to make a rocky cliff.
Check out more images here!
6. Jello Rescue Beach Sensory Play
Toddlers LOVE to jello rescue.
This is as simple as following the directions on a blue jello box, adding in some whales and letting it set overnight.
Then I set out a tray of sand, flat marbles, and kinetic sand for Q to explore. He loved exploring all the different textures.
7. Beach Clean Up Sensory Play
Here’s a little play we did to celebrate earth day. It’s never too young to talk to your kids about being kind to our earth.
We love these little trash bins and they were perfect for Q to clean up his beach with. I used the classic cereal sand here and no kidding Q played here for an hour!
Check out the full post here!
8. Travel Inspired Beach Sensory Play
I often pull from real life experiences for our play to share those moments and stories with Quinn. This is a beach inspired by Margaret River Australia that I sourced for a photoshoot for a job. It was magical being there and I loved sharing this story with Quinn.
I changed up the sand here to make it more impressionable for the tire marks, recipe below!
To make the ocean I mixed water with cornstarch and blue food coloring and used shaving cream along the water line!
Check out the full post here!
9. Shell Exploration Beach Sensory Play
This beach play was all about fine motor skills. It was a great way to introduce Q to using tongs he loved to explore the different textures.
I used a tray of sand and set different beach treasures in different sizes and textures. You can source the beach treasures yourself or snag some from dollar tree!
10. Pebble Beach Play
This was a really easy one to set out and a great way to practice learning letters through play. I set out various pebbles we found at the beach and some blue sand as the ocean and had Q find the different letters.
11. Tide Pool Beach Sensory Play
Here is another craft turned play. Q and I made these red crabs with paint and red sugar. Then I made a beach tide pool world with sand, rocks, and little water areas.
To make the water areas I used the lids of takeout containers to contain the water!
Lots of beach treasures scattered around and this was great fine motor work to “fish” for the crabs!
12. Gone Fishing Beach Sensory Play
Here is a great way to incorporate puzzles into play. I hid our puzzle into a blue rice ocean and play dough beach set up.
13. Pirate Beach Sensory Play
Another craft turned play!
Q and I made these cliffs from air dry clay and I painted this wooden birdhouse pirate ship to use in our play.
Our ocean is blue dyed rice. Using nature like below is a great way to practice counting through play.
14. Book Inspired Beach Sensory Play
One of Q’s favorite plays was about his favorite book, The Rainbow Fish. His favorite part was with the octopus and would make me reread it over and over again. I made the beach with sand, white beans, and blue dyed chickpeas.
The rainbow fish is made out of play dough!
15. Water Bead Beach Sensory Play
This was a last summer favorite. There is just something so magical about water beads – they are MESSY – but magical nonetheless! All you need are water beads and shells! For a taste safe option use tapioca pearls.