Picnic games for the beach
There’s nothing like a day at the seaside to give everyone that wide awake feeling but what do you do with all that energy when you’ve finished the sand castle competition, and it’s too chilly to paddle? We have some intriguing beach facts as well as a sand-tastic set of beach games for the whole family to enjoy. Have fun, and don’t forget the sun cream (or the jumpers!)
By Fi Darby
Up to 11 years old
Fun fact: Waves change the shape of a beach a little bit every day.
Game: Jump Squares
Draw a square, a circle and a triangle in the sand (or with chalk on the prom). The shapes need to be only just big enough for all the players to fit inside each one. A caller gives the instruction to ‘jump squares’, ‘tiptoe triangles’ or ‘spin circles’. The players have to make their way to the shape, all the time jumping, tiptoeing or spinning as appropriate. For additional challenge, encourage players to keep up the action as they all squeeze inside the shape.
Fun fact: The tiny bits of plastic you sometimes find on beaches are called nurdles.
Game: Plastic Rainbow
This one’s fun and good for the environment. Work together to collect pieces of beach plastic in different colours then use them to make your own plastic rainbow. To increase the challenge, give each person a colour, and set a time limit. Don’t forget to take a photo of your rainbow, and put all the plastic in the bin afterwards.
Flat FishFun fact: Some species of flat fish have both their eyes on the same side of their head.
Game: Fish Flop
A caller says the rhyme below, adding to the end something you might buy at a fish shop. The other players have to do an impression of that item. The best impression wins (and gets to be caller next time).
Fish shop ideas include, a crab, an eel, mussels, fish fingers and squid.
Tidal WatersFun fact: Spring tides are when the tide goes a long way out, and comes a long way in.
Game: The Tide is High
This game is great for a larger group. Sit in a line facing, and not too far from, the sea. Starting with the tallest person, take it in turns to say, ‘The tide is high for (add your own example) everyone who didn’t shower this morning’. All players who didn’t shower must jump up, dip their toes in the sea, then run back to their place, and sit down. The last player back gives the next instruction (more ideas below).
Fun fact: There aren’t any birds called ‘seagulls’. Herring gulls have yellow beaks and pink legs.
Game: Sea Scavenger
You can play this game individually but it’s more fun in teams. Each team will need a bag (old pillowcases work well). The caller shouts out something they want each team to find, for example a white pebble, lollipop stick or seaweed hair. The teams rush off to find the item; the first team back to base with it safely in their bag wins a point. Ideas for extra points include:
Over 11 years old
Beach WordsFun fact: The phrase ‘beach bum’ was first recorded in 1950.
This is a word game for three people numbered one, two and three.
All three players close their eyes and count to 50 out loud. When they reach 50, they open their eyes, and call out the first adjective, noun or verb they see. For example #1 might see a saggy swimsuit, #2 a seagull and #3 someone digging. The resulting sentence would be ‘saggy seagull digging’. You might be surprised at how funny the combinations can be.
Into the DeepFun fact: The phrase Davy Jones’ Locker means at the bottom of the sea. One suggestion is that Davy Jones was originally the biblical Jonah, who was thrown into the sea by his own crew.
Game: Ferry Home
Draw the shape of a boat in the sand (or create one with pebbles). Some people won’t fit on the ferry, and will have to ‘swim’ home (you can choose how many). Taking it in turns, the players each have a minute to explain why they should get a place on the ferry. They have to do this without using the unlucky words ‘water’, ‘swim’, or ‘boat’. When everyone has spoken, the group decides who sails and who swims.
For extra fun use buckets of water every time someone mistakenly uses the unlucky words.
Fun fact: Most people know Neptune as the Roman god of the sea but he was also the god of rivers, lakes and earthquakes.
Game: Neptune’s Trident
The aim of this game is not to laugh. Players sit in a circle. The first questioner chooses someone and asks him or her a question. It doesn’t matter what the question is but the answer always has to be ‘Neptune’s Trident’, and it must be given without laughing. The questioner keeps asking questions until someone laughs. The person who laughs becomes the next questioner. Question ideas below.
Torquay in Devon - 87Fun fact: Paid annual holiday leave wasn’t generally available in the UK until 1938.
Game: Beach Bingo
This one needs some pre-picnic preparation. Before you set off, give each player a piece of paper that’s been folded four times. Ask them to open their paper then write or draw eight different things (one in each square) they think they’ll see at the beach. When you get to the beach, hand out the pencils, and encourage everyone to shout ‘beach bingo’ as they cross off things they’ve seen. Give treats as prizes.
To make this one more challenging you can add a few tricky finds to each sheet yourself, or ask players to create a bingo sheet for someone else.
Fun Fact: Big beach rocks are home to creatures like sand hoppers and shore crabs. If you move one to look, don’t forget to put it back in the same place.
Game: Beach Art
There are lots of things on the beach you could use to create your very own beach picture. Sand, pebbles and driftwood all make great frames then the rest really is up to you. If you want to raise the challenge levels, you could choose a theme (ideas below).