Supporting Language & Literacy Development at the Beach!

When we go to the beach, in addition to splashing in the water and enjoying the sunshine, I view the trips as an opportunity for adventure, exploration and learning.  We have done a number of activities that help to promote development in all the major domains (cognitive, language & literacy, social & emotional and motor).  In this post, I will share some examples of our language & literacy explorations at the beach.  I should note that these activities are planned as well as spontaneous.

Also, please keep in mind, these activities can be altered for other environments like the park, a lake or even your backyard.  My overarching goal is to show how learning can take place outside of the classroom, away from paper and pencil and by using natural materials.  And my belief, based on both experience and research, is that by using these materials and experiences, that the information will be meaningful, relevant and more easily retained.  Enjoy!

Letter Recognition

1. Digging letter shapes into the sand to be filled in by various materials (seaweed, rocks, sticks, shells, sea glass)

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With big brother’s help, my Little one filled in his ‘L’, with rocks.

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My Oldest filled in his ‘O’ with seaweed.

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2. Drawing letters with your feet.


3. Using rocks, shells, seaweed, etc…


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1. Collect materials to use as props while making up a story.  Rocks can be people, shells can be cars, piles of sand can be houses/mountains.

2. Recall events after leaving the beach, building comprehension is an important skill to develop (and the conversation might help keep little ones awake on the way home).

4. Make a book!  Use pictures from the beach and have your children draw pictures of their favorite beach memory.  Then add words to describe the pictures or tell the actual story from a particular beach visit.


1.  There are many words that come up during a trip to the beach – dig, scoop, pile, catch, current, waves, tide – just to name a few.  Look around and use lots of language that might not ordinarily come up day to day.  This is a good opportunity for language development for all ages.

2. Try to continue to use vocabulary picked up at the beach while at home.  Ask your children to draw pictures of the beach and label them accordingly.  Research words like tide and current with your older children.

I am sure there are so many other ways to incorporate language & literacy into a simple trip to the beach.  I’d love to hear your ideas!


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