Ways to Learn at the Beach


Each year to kick off summer break, I take my three little girls to the beach. They can spend hours playing in the waves and running along the sandy shores. This year they have tackled boogie-boarding, and I foresee some surf lessons in the future! 

As a mom and teacher, I am always looking to weave playful learning into our day. Our beach week is no exception! My girls love to play little reading games in the sand. I keep them short and sweet, which keeps them engaged and playful. We played so many different games that I may need to break it up into a 2-part blog post! 

Here are just a few of our favorites to play to review and practice some of our reading skills. 

  1. Letter writing in the sand. I have found that students of all ages love to play with sand. Sand provides kinesthetic practice for pre-writing letter formation and letter practice. The drag, or pull, in the sand helps build connections for the learner through what we refer to as multisensory practice or when we are engaging at least three of the senses simultaneously. When we use multiple senses simultaneously, we have a higher chance of retaining the information. It is also an excellent review of letter formation. (If you are not able to visit the beach, or if you want to bring the fun of sand to your classroom, read more here)
  2. Sandy Sound Dictation! Okay, this is just sound dictation, but in the sand! My girls love this quick activity. I will say a sound. They echo the sound and say the grapheme (letter representation) as they write it in the sand. Easy review! (See video clipπŸ‘†) 
  3. Beat the Wave Word Writing! This game was so fun, and we giggled as we tried to see how many words we could write before the wave washed them away. What a fun way to build in some automaticity work and rapid recall work! There are several ways that I scaffolded this to meet my children's needs. My youngest is working on letter recognition and early CVC words. We played a letter dictation game for her, where I dictated letters for her, and she wrote them down before the wave washed them away. We also played letter sequence, and she wrote the ABCs as the waves washed in.  

My older children have been solidifying the spelling of words so that I would dictate words to them, and they would write. See this in action in video πŸ‘†

Here are some other ways you can play "Beat the Wave":

  • Fill in the missing letter - say a sequence of letters and have the child write the letter that comes next.
  • Blend it - Segment a word into individual phonemes and have the child blend the sounds together as they write the word. Read more about segmenting and blending here
  • Give a Category - state a category like "things you see on the beach" and have the child name as many items as they can while making tally marks before the wave washes them away. How many did they name? Rapid naming of items in a category is a fantastic task to build recall and help children group like items. You can also build language skills by having them describe something that they see with the size, color, shape, category, etc.

4. Hop through the word: Elkonin sound boxes are an easy way to bring segmenting practice to the beach! Elkonin boxes provide a place marker for students to hold the individual phonemes in their phonological memory. 

  • The procedures are such: Teacher says a word. Students echo the word. Segment each sound as you tap, or place a marker of some sort to represent each sound. So for the word chip. We would segment into /ch/-/i/-/p/. There are three sounds within this word, so students would push up a chip to represent the three sounds. Note that even though we spell chip with 4 letters, there are only 3 sounds in the word.  

At the beach, we can use shells as our tokens within the Elkonin boxes or get kids to hop through the word physically! This is a favorite with my kids. They love anything that gets them moving. πŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒπŸ’ƒ Some ways to scaffold this activity is to draw the boxes with the exact number of phonemes in the word. For example, I would have previously drawn three boxes in the sand /b/-/E/-/ch/for the word beach. Once students understand this concept, we can gradually release the structure of having a set number of boxes to one where they determine and draw the boxes or must determine how many sound boxes to jump through for each word.

While the summer days are filled with relaxation and laid-back activities, we can help children maintain the gains they made over the school year! These activities will bring some giggles and fun into your learning, whether you are headed to the beach or your backyard!

We played so many more games on the beach! Be sure to pop by next week, where I will share some more!



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