Thursday 20 February 2014

Beach themed day

This week is half-term, and it feels a bit like Harry's first real holiday from school. For his first half-term we spent most of the week away in Berlin, then over Christmas Ram was off work a lot, so I didn't really have to do much extra entertaining than normal. This week though it's mostly just me and the children, and as I really enjoyed the themed days that I planned over the summer I thought it was time for another. I let Harry choose the theme, and he went for Beach Day.

How to hold a beach themed day for children

I decorated the living room with my sarong that I always take to the beach and a few beachy inflatables. I wasn't sure that I was up to having sand traipsed throughout the house, so instead I thought I'd have a go at sand playdough. I always use the fabulous Four Minute Playdough Recipe from The Imagination Tree as a base for my play dough as it's so easy to make. This time I played around with it a bit, I substituted some of the salt for actual sand, then added quite a bit more sand and flour as it went very sticky. It didn't work as well as some of my play dough, but it did the job!

How to hold a beach themed day for children

To go along with the play dough I provided some shells, glass pebbles, little dolls wearing suitable beach attire and cocktail umbrellas. Both children loved the beach umbrellas and they each made up a beach scene. Harry then went on to make up some stories with the dollies.

I used these same figures for my Beach Sensory Tub a little while ago, which is another idea that would fit in perfectly with this theme - click the link to find out more!

How to hold a beach themed day for children

I like to include a baking activity as part of our themed day, so next we made some sand biscuits. We make biscuits a lot as I have a very simple recipe for basic shortbread that works very well. You just need 50g caster sugar, 175g plain flour and 125g butter. You can either rub it together by hand or mix it in the mixer, and if necessary add a splash of milk to form a dough. Roll out, cut out your biscuits and bake in the oven at 180C for about 15 minutes, remove when they start to brown. I dyed some sugar yellow to look like sand - all you need to do is add a few drops of yellow food colouring to a bowl of sugar and mix well. I prepared it the night before so that it had time to dry out, but that wasn't really necessary. We iced the biscuits will yellow icing and then sprinkled the coloured sugar on top to look like sand.

How to hold a beach themed day for children

We used some more real sand to make a beach picture with sand. First we painted a sheet of thin card with different shades of blue and white paint to make the sea. Then when it was dry we used PVA glue to stick the sand on to make the beach. I printed out some pictures of children playing on the beach, and the children coloured those in, cut them out, and stuck them on their pictures.

How to hold a beach themed day for children

I couldn't have a themed day without featuring some themed Hama beads. There are lots of patterns available online, and if you have transparent pegboards, you can often print out the patterns and then place them underneath which makes it really easy for young children to create the designs. Otherwise these designs are very simple, so quite easy for children to copy.

How to hold a beach themed day for children

I always turn to the brilliant Twinkl resources when I'm looking for themed activities, and I wasn't disappointed. I printed out a few worksheets for Harry which are all suitable for children in reception - a seaside scene labelling worksheet (free download), a seaside word search (Twinkl subscriber resource), seaside spot the difference (Twinkl subscriber resource) and sea themed addition and subtraction colouring puzzle (Twinkl subscriber resource). He loves doing little puzzles like these, and it's a good (and fun) way to keep his learning going while he's off school, I was really impressed with how his maths skills are coming along.

I also found some blank postcard templates (free download) to make some postcards which were brilliant. I printed one out for each child, and they decorated one half with some pictures cut from magazines and 'wrote' on the other side. Then I stuck the pieces back to back and laminated them. It was a good exercise for Harry in creative writing, I encouraged him to choose some pictures that he could pretend represented something he was doing on holiday, and he came up with a little postcard to send to Daddy. Mia loved copying him, she's very good at pretend writing. Harry's writing says "Dear Daddy. Fed a goat and I went on a bike love from Harry" based on the pictures that he chose for the front of his postcard!

How to hold a beach themed day for children

Finally I found some instructions for simple paper boats which you can find here - origami paper boats printable. I made them a couple and we floated them in the bath. I'm going to try and memorise the instructions because it's a handy thing to be able to produce for some quick entertainment!

We also had a beach lunch sitting on the sarong in the living room and pretending to be at the beach. I put out the food in (well washed) sand moulds for a bit of a change.

How to hold a beach themed day for children

I do like our theme days. It's a really good idea to have a long list of activities to at least try and fill the day, I had forgotten how long those afternoons can be when you are at home with small children.

If you feel inspired, here you can find the posts about our other themed days:

Space Day
Antarctic Day
Under the Sea Day
Dinosaur Day
Transport Day
Australia Day
Roman Day
Disney Frozen Day

And some tips on how to hold a themed day at home for children.

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