Learn to Build A Sand Castle

Have your kids ever had a disappointing sand castle flop?

Want to know the secret to building sensational sand structures every time?

Take your family’s sand castle creations to the next level with these easy tips.

Building a sand structure is a great way to bond with your family at the beach. Use these easy tips to create a castle masterpiece instead of a massive failure!

Why Build a Sand Castle?

There’s no better beach project than to build a sand castle as a family. It’s practically a summer rite of passage. On the list of things you must do when you head to the beach: splash around in the water, look for seashells and build a sand castle.

Although it may seem like a piece of cake, building a sand castle is deceptively tricky. You can spend hours digging, patting and sculpting and still find that your finished product is not all you hoped it would be. There’s an easy way to fix that!

Work together to design your castle and plan the décor. Then create the best sand castle ever. And have fun. Fun is a huge part of sand castle building.

A sand castle is exactly what it sounds like: a structure built with sand. Competitive sand sculptures come in a variety of shapes and sizes. And it’s not the only type of sand art. People paint with sand and draw massive designs in the sand.

Sand castle building may have started as early as the 14th century in India. Others believe sand sculpture began with sand models for pyramid-building in Egypt, though there’s no documentation.

In the late 19th century more “modern” sculptures started to appear on the beach in New Jersey. And then sand-building contests started to gain popularity in the 1970s in California.

Whether you build a castle for fun or have aspirations of taking your family on the competitive circuit, there’s no reason you can’t build an awesome structure!

You Will Need

  • Paper and pencil for castle design
  • Spades and/or shovels
  • Buckets
  • Carving tools from your kitchen (straws, spatula)
  • Castle decorations
  • Sand
  • Water
  • Camera

Preparation Time

30+ minutes to discuss designs and gather tools and accessories

Activity Time

1-2 hours


A beach or similar location with sand and water

Design Your Sand Castle

To make the best structure possible, involve your family in every step of the process. Start with a design session at home before you head to the beach.

Talk about sand castles and castles in general. What books or movies have the coolest castles? What attributes should your castle have? Will you build a moat? A drawbridge? A tower? All of the above?

Design your ideal sand castle. Draw a picture together or have everyone draw his or her own version and figure out how to merge all of your ideas into one giant castle.

This design will be your blueprint for when you step onto the beach. Note: the younger your kids, the simpler you’ll want to make your design. Also consider the time you’ll spend at the beach and your little ones’ attention spans.

Keep in mind, simple doesn’t mean small. Don’t be afraid to go large with your design. It’s much easier to sculpt and carve large amounts of sand.

Gather the Right Tools

Before you head to the beach, select the right tools. It can make your life so much easier once you start to build your sand castle.

The most important tool is a lightweight shovel. Shovels with wooden handles are great, because they are less likely to crack under the strain. However, for little hands, go with a traditional plastic spade. It is a good idea to bring a shovel for each of your sand castle builders.

In addition, you’ll need at least two buckets: one to carry water and another to mix the sand and water.

A word of warning: filling a bucket with sand and turning it over will not necessarily make the best sand castle. The reason for this is that the water in a bucket full of wet sand is not able to drain away. The sand then forms a vacuum inside the bucket and will not come out no matter how hard you pat!

It’s much easier to mix the sand and water in the bucket, scoop out large amounts of sand with your hands and sculpt from there.

To shape and detail your sand castle, you’ll need some tools. Most of these can be found in your kitchen cupboards. Take a pastry knife, a trowel and similar carving tools in a variety of sizes to shape your sand castle.

Grab a plastic spatula and a soft-bristled paintbrush to smooth the sand castle’s edges.

Also, pack a few plastic drinking straws. These will enable you to blow unwanted sand from your design without damaging your creation.

Finally, bring a camera or camera phone. Taking a picture of your building will help when it is time to say goodbye to your sand castle and your kids are feeling sad and reluctant to leave.

Take a series of snaps as the castle is being built. Once you are home, create a collage of images or a slide show.

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